OPINION: Cook Labor Government has thrown in the towel on the Albanese Government’s decision to kill off the live sheep export industry

Anyone who was in any doubt that the Cook Labor Government has thrown in the towel on the Albanese Government’s decision to kill off the live sheep export industry should take the time to read the Western Australian Labor Government’s submission to the independent consultation panel.

The submission, tabled in Parliament on 8 August by Agriculture Minister, Jackie Jarvis, reads more like a document prepared by a Government complicit with the decision to cease the live export trade, rather than one advocating for its continuation.

In lieu of making a strong case in support of farmers and those affected by the Federal Labor Government’s decision, the submission advocates for a transition “with clear direction and sufficient time and resources for adjustment along the whole supply chain”.

Instead of highlighting the importance of the live sheep trade to our regional economies and communities, the submission states that “There has been a long-term decline in live sheep exports”, and that given certain scenarios there will be minimal or no impact to farmers.

Extraordinarily, the document almost sets out a road map for the Federal Labor Government on how it should go about killing off the industry and managing the transition.

Back in December last year I remember when the newly minted Agriculture Minister came out with the statement “I do support live sheep exports it’s an important part of the mix … I absolutely do,”. Well, something must have drastically changed in the time between making that statement and the preparation of the WA Labor Government’s submission. In no way, shape or form is the Minister’s stated position reflected in the submission.

So, there you have it, either the Minister is in direct conflict with the submission which she has tabled in Parliament, or she has finally succumbed to the factional powerbrokers within the Labor Party and no longer supports the live sheep export industry. This will be cold comfort for those that had taken the Minister at her word and believed that the WA Labor Government would be fighting tooth and nail to protect this valuable industry.

If the WA Labor Government and Agriculture Minister were genuinely committed to standing up to the Federal Labor Government and making the strongest possible representations on behalf of the live sheep export industry, their submission would not be advocating for a transition process.

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that farmers, agricultural businesses and regional communities are deemed as acceptable collateral damage – worth the price of appeasing Labor factional interests and securing inner city votes.