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Greens' plan to transition live sheep export industry to local processing backed by meat workers union

Media Release
Richard Di Natale 22 Apr 2018

The Australian Greens will today launch their '5-Point Plan to End Cruelty and Expand Jobs' that would quickly transition the live sheep export trade to a boxed, chilled meat trade processed locally.

The plan has the backing of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU).

The Greens' plan calls for strong government intervention to assist in a speedy transition between the two industries through providing assistance to farmers to adjust their flock numbers; boosting the skills of local workers to build the local meat processing industry; lobbying for an end to overseas subsidies and tariffs that promote live exports over boxed, chilled trade; and establishing new teams in the Department of Agriculture and Austrade to drive reform within government, as well as an Independent Office of Animal Welfare. 

“The transition from live sheep exports to local processing for international trade can start now. There is absolutely no need to continue the cruel live sheep export industry,” Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“The processing plant in Western Australia is under capacity and is ready to take on additional workers and handle an expanded work load. 

“The Turnbull government’s assurances that the welfare of exported animals can be protected are worthless.

At every stage they have failed to protect exported sheep from suffering.

“Labor’s plan for a temporary ban creates more uncertainty.

The export trade business model relies on mass death and suffering and does not deserve another chance.

“The Greens’ plan to kick start this transition includes a Farmer Adjustment Assistance Package to help farmers adjust their flock numbers from an export focus to a more regular local processing system.

“Building a stronger domestic meat processing industry delivers a win-win. We end the mass cruelty and expand jobs in regional Australia.”

Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale said the Greens' plan would avoid the issues caused by Labor's suggested suspension of shipments of live sheep during the northern summer pending the results of a review of the industry.

"The Labor party’s proposal to suspend live sheep exports during the northern summer, and only after completing a review, is not good enough.

"We don't need more reviews, we must end this mass cruelty now. Labor must join the Greens in calling on the government to immediately transition away from cruel live sheep exports to the boxed, chilled meat trade."

Greens' 5-Point Plan to End Cruelty and Expand Jobs
Growing Australia’s sheep meat trade - an alternative to live exports

1. Smooth the transition

The Government should work with industry, farmers and the meat workers union to ensure a smooth and successful transition away from live sheep exports to local processing for the export trade in boxed, chilled meat.

2. Farmer Adjustment Assistance Package

Farmers should be entitled to access financial assistance to adjust their flock numbers from an export focus to a more regular local processing system. The Greens are calling for this work to be undertaken by an Independent Assessor.

3. Boost skills and educate workers

The Government, working with industry and unions, should provide assistance to help attract and train Indigenous and other local meat processing workers to serve a new, strong domestic sheep meat processing industry, particularly in Western Australia.

4. Remove trade distortions and more vigorously market Australian meat overseas

The Government, working with industry, should actively lobby for an end to subsidies and tariffs which favour the live export trade and put more resources into promoting the boxed, chilled meat trade particularly in countries that currently take live sheep exports from Australia.

5. Establish teams to drive reform within government

Establish new divisions within the Department of Agriculture and Austrade that will be responsi­ble for and develop expertise in growing domestic processing and building meat markets overseas; and set up an independent Office of Animal Welfare.

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