The Opposition has labelled the lack of action from the State and Federal Labor Government regarding the live export vessel MV Bahijah as “totally unacceptable.”
Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Roe Peter Rundle MLA said action was urgently needed as a heat wave blasted Perth and Fremantle this week, placing the welfare of around 15,000 animals on a recalled ship at risk.
“Right now, the welfare of these 15,000 sheep and cattle is our top concern, and it is deeply troubling that neither the State or Federal Government appear to have a plan,” Mr Rundle said.
“The decision to return the MV Bahijah to Australia was made by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry because of complex security concerns in the Middle East.
“While the return of the vessel was the right call at the time, I question what the State and Federal Government have done to prepare for the arrival of this vessel, given they have had well over a week to make plans.”
Mr Rundle said the Federal Government should not have ordered the vessel to return to Australia without a plan and called on the State and Federal Government’s to take responsibility for this situation which is of their making.
“We now have a situation where both the industry and animal welfare groups are frustrated by a totally preventable scenario and a clear lack of process from the Federal Department.
“The radio silence from the State and Federal Minister’s for Agriculture on this matter is telling – they have had more than a week to find a solution and they are gambling with the welfare of stock and the livelihood our farmers.”
Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food, Colin de Grussa MLC, noted the State and Federal Governments must have been communicating to have recalled the ship and decried Labor’s failure to establish a plan for when the ship pulled into our port.
“The total inaction from the State and Federal Government, combined with a lack of information over the past 48 hours, has fuelled speculation and concern from the wider community which must be addressed.”
“Now we see the exporter having to step up where Labor has failed, putting forward their own solution after waiting more than a week to hear what the State and Federal Government intended to do.
“Labor have either failed to establish a plan, or failed to communicate it. Both are inexcusable in this situation.”
“The Nationals WA are not privy to the discussions between the Federal Department and the exporter, however, we understand there are no animal welfare concerns aboard the vessel and the biosecurity risk is minimal.
Mr de Grussa said the State Government also had a responsibility for these animals.
“The State Government must ensure our biosecurity is maintained and the welfare of the animals is put first.”