The State Government has criticised the Federal Government over the delayed release of a report into live sheep export, claiming it is causing “further uncertainty” for WA farmers.
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the McCarthy Review into the future of live export in the northern summer needed to be released quickly and a decision needed to be made soon, but the government was dragging its feet.
“The Federal Government is clearly unable to make a decision on how to deal with this complex problem,” Ms MacTiernan said.
Ms MacTiernan called on Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud to make the review available soon.
“Minister Littleproud must release the McCarthy Review immediately, even if his Government cannot agree on the recommendations.”
Ms MacTiernan said Mr Littleproud would be announcing the findings of the review on Wednesday, with a “lock-up” organised for stakeholders including industry and animal welfare groups in Canberra.
However, the announcement was cancelled late on Tuesday afternoon.
The McCarthy Review came after video of sheep suffering extreme distress on the Emanuel Exports stocked ship Awassi Express was revealed on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program.
The ship left Fremantle on 1 August 2017 and lost 2,400 sheep to heat stress.
“There was much posturing after the screening of footage on 60 Minutes – but now, more than five weeks on, absolutely no action,” Ms MacTiernan said.
Ms MacTiernan said the industry and markets would need time to adjust if there was a reduction or pause in trade.
The Federal Government is likely to release the report on Thursday.
There had been conflicting accounts over why the report was delayed, including reports that a unanimous decision by the five Nationals in cabinet to delay the report.
The report by livestock veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy contains recommendations about how many sheep can be safely transported on live export ships during the Middle Eastern summer.
Ms MacTiernan said the state government was considering how trade could be regulated.
“The State Government is getting legal advice on what powers are available to the State, to regulate the summer trade using the WA Animal Welfare Act,” she said.