Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has lashed out at the sheep live export industry.
Mr Littleproud issued a forthright statement, saying it was regrettable the industry didn’t move sooner to end exports during the hottest time of year in the Middle East.
Industry today launched a last minute bid to pre-empt the possibility of crossbench MPs and Labor teaming up to pass new laws to ban the trade.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council has imposed a three-month moratorium on sheep shipments in the Northern Hemisphere summer.
“I have repeatedly asked exporters to lead,” Mr Littleproud said.
“It would have been better if industry had shown leadership across a broad range of animal welfare matters some years ago.”
The moratorium takes effect from June 1 next year and no shipments of Australian sheep will depart any Australian port for the Middle East during the highest heat stress risk period of the northern summer.
ALEC independent chairman Simon Crean said the moratorium would provide certainty to sheep producers who supply the trade, and was just one initiative which was part of wider ranging industry reforms.
Labor Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has committed to ban the Middle Eastgern summer trade when the Opposition forms government and plans to phase the remainder of live sheep exports out over five years.
He praised ALEC’s move, accused the Coalition of ignoring animal welfare concerns and urged it to allow parliamentary debate on the future on of the industry.
“The Morrison Government must start listening to the people: the live sheep trade is acting where the Government won’t,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“I congratulate ALEC on this step in the right direction however the Morrison Government must now allow the House of Representatives to express its will on the the future of the live sheep trade. A vote to phase out long haul live sheep exports must held this last sitting week.”