A Federal Liberal MP and cattle farmer in WA’s largest dairy farming region said farmers were “disgusted” by comments from State Agricultural Minster Alannah MacTiernan.
Forrest MHR Nola Marino has added her voice to calls to rebuke Ms MacTiernan over her comments that an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in WA would not be “catastrophic” to the State’s beef and dairy industries.
Her comments come just days after Liberal MP for O’Connor Rick Wilson called for Ms MacTiernan to be sacked over the remarks, saying she had ignored the fact the UK’s 2001 FMD outbreak caused six million cattle, sheep and pigs to be slaughtered.
Last week Ms MacTiernan told told The West Australian newspaper that the FMD threat must be kept “in perspective”, saying a WA outbreak might make milk and meat “cheaper”.
“It’s not going to stop milk or meat being available to us, and some people might argue it might actually make it cheaper because there’ll be more of it available domestically,” Ms MacTiernan told The West.
“We will still have a domestic industry. I would not say it would be catastrophic. It would be costly and very unfortunate. But even if it does happen, we can move beyond it.”
On Thursday WA Premier Mark McGowan again defended Ms MacTiernan, saying she had apologised for her “clumsy language”.
But Mrs Marino said farmers felt the comments showed Labor had “no understanding” of the potential impacts of an FMD outbreak on WA farmers and the supply chain.
“Every farmer I have spoken with has been absolutely disgusted and hurt by these comments which show Labor governments have no understanding of the devastating impact an FMD outbreak would have on our farmers, local businesses and regional communities,” Mrs Marino said.
Her Liberal colleague and Katanning wheat and sheep farmer Rick Wilson said an FMD outbreak would force the industry to shut down for at least six months.
“That would be a catastrophe for livestock producers, and flippantly claiming that consumers would be the winners is a typically metro-centric view of the world from the former Federal Member for Perth who has again shown she is incapable of holding the agriculture and food portfolio,” Mr Wilson said.
“For a so-called Minister for Agriculture to treat this issue in such a cavalier and careless manner indicates she is not fit in any way, shape or form to hold her current position.”
He also slammed her for failing to front an FMD forum for livestock producers in Mt Barker on July 19, and of ignoring the animal welfare implications of a potential outbreak.
“Ms MacTiernan talks a good game on animal welfare, but her scandalous comments ignore the fact that in the 2001 UK outbreak, which only infected a small number of properties, six million cattle, sheep and pigs were slaughtered and burnt over a period of seven months as part of broader control measures,” Mr Wilson said.
Source: South Western Times