Live sheep exports have a role but get tough on rogue operators say our farmers

Quality Riverina-raised sheep offered for sale during sales at Deniliquin.
Quality Riverina-raised sheep offered for sale during sales at Deniliquin.

Like most people Riverina sheep producer Ken Crossley says seeing stock suffering and mistreated makes him angry.

Mr Crossley said although sheep producers across Sussan Ley’s Farrer electorate were minor players in the live sheep export market, it was an important part of Australia’s agricultural trade and it needed to be policed properly.

“The protocols are in place and, going by the footage that we’ve been shown, the protocols haven’t been adhered to, that’s the nuts and bolts of it,” said Mr Crossley who runs an 8000-hectare mixed farming enterprise at Deniliquin.

“There’s been numerous inquiries and rules and regulations have been set but they obviously haven’t been adhered to. You just have to look at the footage, there’s no way known those sheep should be standing in six inches of that.

“It shouldn't be used for ewes lambing. Ewes are supposed to be scanned before they go on there. It’s been a blatant misuse of the rules.”

Conargo farmer Colin Bull, who runs a 3500 ewe self-replacing merino flock, said the footage shown on 60 Minutes was clearly intended to discredit the industry.

“If you’ve got live sheep you’ve got dead sheep no matter how good you are,” he said.

“I have an issue with these people who take this footage and then wait and hold it until it suits their agenda. They’re very opportunist people. They don’t really care about the animals they just have an agenda. If they care they’d pass it on straight away.

“If they had genuine concerns about the welfare of the animals they’d have footage out within days.”

Ms Ley went against her party and said Australia needed to end live sheep exports and find new processing opportunities and markets.

“No reasonable farmer wants to see stock they have grown leave their care only to perish in such horrific circumstances,” Ms Ley said.  

Ms Ley said suggestions a live export halt would decimate the industry were “lazy ‘non’ arguments”.  

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, a former agriculture consultant and vet, said Ms Ley’s view showed an “appalling lack of support for the thousands of farmers in her electorate”.

He said the NSW Liberal Democrats would use the issue as a platform to run a candidate against Ms Ley at the next Federal election, due in 12 months.