LIBERTARIANS have reacted rapidly to Sussan Ley’s public plea to ban live exports.
NSW Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm said his party would be running a candidate in Farrer at the next federal election, saying her call to ban live sheep exports was “reprehensible” to farmers.
Senator Leyonhjelm issued a statement saying Ms Ley’s call, which came after 60 Minutes broadcast video footage taken by a whistle-blower of sheep suffering heat stress on shipments to the Middle East at the weekend, showed an “appalling lack of support for the thousands of farmers in her electorate”.
He said ending all live sheep exports would severely affect the region’s annual $200 million sheep and lamb industry.
“No one is disputing that the footage broadcast in the media this week showing the suffering and death of thousands of sheep at the hands of Emanuel Exports was horrific and unacceptable,” the veterinarian said.
“But we know from previous experience just how devastating a government ban on live export can be to Australian farming communities.
“The 2011 six-month ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia cost the industry an estimated $600 million.
“Sheep farmers know there are other ways to ensure adequate animal welfare without closing down the entire live export industry – a move that would affect the entire sheep meat market in NSW.
“For an MP to call for such irrational measures to be taken against the constituents who elected her to represent their interests is reprehensible.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said his party had started the process of pre-selecting a candidate for Farrer.
Ms Ley broke ranks with the Coalition government’s policy on live exports week saying it was time to pick a date for all live exports to end, starting with sheep exports.
Before the 60 Minutes broadcast, federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud pledged there would be no “knee-jerk” response. But he promised to take action against exporters to deal with animal welfare breaches, in the supply chain.
He said the Coalition condemned cruelty to animals and took animal welfare seriously, but a ban on the industry would punish those who had done no wrong.
Ms Ley said she was not picking a date to end live exports.
“That wouldn’t be fair to farmers who deserve our absolute support. The issue with cattle exports is quite different because the housing is different, but the crowding of the sheep and the animal welfare issues on board the ships are I think seen in a much starker reflection.”