Tabling of the WA Farmers' Live Exports petition

21/9/2018

I rise today to table this petition on behalf of the WA Farmers organisation, which represents family farms and business throughout my electorate of O'Connor and more broadly across WA.

This petition contains over 980 signatures calling on the House to undertake an economic and social investigation into the importance of the live sheep export trade and to focus on the likely impacts of either total cessation or significantly reduced live export on our WA industry.

I give a special shout-out to Tony York, President of the WA Farmers Federation, who's up in the Speaker's gallery today, having travelled to Canberra to speak to my colleagues and seek support for our industry in this place.

I thank Tony for being the primary petitioner and for his ongoing advocacy for WA farmers. I also thank former South West MLC Matt Benson-Lidholm for working with my office to compile this petition, and I thank my O'Connor farmers and their friends and families, who have circulated it widely.

This petition was launched at an extraordinary meeting convened by WAFarmers in my home town of Katanning.

Over 1,000 farmers, transporters, feed merchants and small business people joined together to show their support for the $250 million live export trade and to discuss the impact that the disruption of this trade was having on their livelihoods.

In presenting this petition to the House, I draw attention to the uncertainty facing the WA sheep industry and call for support for an investigation into the economic and social impact of any cessation or reduction in live sheep exports, not only for our farmers but for the broader Australian community.

The petition reads as follows: TO THE HONOURABLE THE SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, this petition of concerned Australian citizens draws to the attention of the House: The current uncertainty facing WA's sheep industry caused by the suspension of live sheep exports.

Farmers, livestock agents, road transporters, feed merchants and other industry participants, are facing great economic uncertainty.

This uncertainty, coupled with poor seasonal conditions, sees farmers experiencing real financial hardship. Of further concern in farming communities is the issue of associated agri-businesses either cutting down on staff numbers or even ceasing operations as funds start to dry up.

WA sheep farmers engaged in the live export sector are urgently seeking assurances that their farming businesses can continue to deliver the high quality product that has come from WA over many years.

The state's farmers believe, however, that they continue to be let down by regulators and exporters. In recent times, public disquiet has reached disturbing levels as farmers are being blamed for animal welfare issues; nothing is further from the truth.

The WA farming sector supports the maintenance of live sheep exports together with the continued improvement in animal welfare initiatives.

We therefore ask the House to: Undertake a broad-based economic and social investigation into the importance of the nation's and WA's live sheep trade, focusing on the likely impacts of either total cessation or significantly reduced exports. From 985 citizens (Petition No. PN0374)

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