Live Animal Exports

As a farmer in this place, I’ve been very interested in some of the comments from those opposite, particularly around value-adding. I can tell you, through bitter personal experience, that the only value-adding out of what Labor is suggesting will be to everyone except the farmer, because that is how the market operates. For any of you that have ever been to a farm or to a sale, or maybe stood on the rails at a beef sale or anywhere, for that matter, where flocks of sheep are sold, if they’re going to a meat processor, you take what you’re given. You are the absolute price taker. When you give our farmers and our sheep producers no other option—’Sorry, you’re not allowed to sell into any other market, and you’ve only got one option: it’s got to go to a meat processor’—they will take whatever price is being offered. Having been in that situation myself with beef, I can tell you that’s why we no longer produce it. That’s what those members opposite—who, I bet, have never been on a farm, stood on the cattle rails or sold a flock of sheep—could even think about. They’ve got absolutely no idea. There will be very few options.

As a farmer myself, like every other farmer, I was horrified by what we saw on the Awassi Express. The government and the minister have acted, and I commend the minister for his actions. The McCarthy review into the Middle Eastern summer sheep trade is due next week. If people have done the wrong thing then they will be accountable. The goal and focus should be that the animals come off the ship on arrival as good as or better than when they went on. That’s what all of us, as farmers, want, and that’s what the industry wants.

In 2016, of the 1.9 million live sheep exported at a value of $233 million—90 per cent—came out of WA. So what we’re seeing here today from Labor is a red-hot attack on the economy of Western Australia. That’s what we’re seeing. Make no mistake: WA will suffer. It is an attack on the 10,000 jobs that exist in the industry in rural and regional Australia.

I want to talk about some of those fantastic people in the livestock transporters’ patch. They do an extraordinary job. I know some of the blokes. When I talk to some of those that do the transporting, they tell me about a bloke by the name of John Logue out at Williams. Ninety-nine per cent of his business is shippers. What would he do? He’s from Williams, where the population is 300 or so—is that right, Rick? It’s your patch. You look at Ben Schlinzig. He’s out Moodiarrup way—a population of just over 100, I think.

So I look all around and look at all these great small businesses that are so important to those small communities. I look at those that supply them when we take them out, which is what Labor wants to do—take them out. What happens to your local fuel distributor who supplies that transporter? What happens to the tyre dealers that they deal with? What happens to the welding businesses and all these other small businesses that keep our small communities operating? That’s what those opposite have no idea about, and they literally do not care about the impact that they’re imposing on those communities. The devolution of those small communities in the member for O’Connor’s area, particularly, is what we’ll see. What about the local service station and the local stockmen, who do an amazing job? All of those people will be affected. We’re talking about real families. We’re not talking about some pie in the sky, as Labor does. They’ve got no real contact with these people, these families and these small businesses—none. I live it. The member for O’Connor lives it. The member for Durack lives it. Other members in this House understand it really well.

We’re listening to idealists, not those who live in the real world as we do. We know that a lot of these people operate in marginal country. What other options do they have? That’s one of the other issues that those opposite haven’t thought about. Have no doubt: in spite of what’s said on the opposite side, Animals Australia will not end here. The left of your party will give in, and cattle will be next. There is no question at all. They will be captives of the left, and we will see cattle next. There is absolutely no question. We saw the disaster of what Labor did in 2011. I will never forget it, and neither will the farmers of this nation, and I support them every single day.