WA Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis has delivered a stunning rebuke of commentary suggesting she does not support the live export sector, in a passionate speech that earned her praise from what was expected to be a tough crowd.
Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis has delivered a stunning rebuke of commentary suggesting she does not support the live export sector, in a passionate speech that earned her praise from what was expected to be a tough crowd.
Speaking at the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA’s convention on Thursday, Ms Jarvis was animated as she slammed constant claims in media and online that she was not doing enough to support Western Australia’s $80 million live sheep trade.
Her speech comes amid ongoing concern from WA farmers staring down the barrel of the federal government’s proposed live sheep export ban, and plummeting prices for lamb and mutton.
“To be honest, I am really tired of reading in the media I do not support live export,” Ms Jarvis said.
“I am not sure how many more times I can say it, I don’t know how many more times the premier can say it.
“I am frustrated with this decision by the federal government but I'm not sure how much more I can advocate, and quite frankly every time I pick up the paper and read that I haven't done enough or that I don't talk to farmers, I talk to farmers all the time, I'm here talking to you now.”
Ms Jarvis also used the speech to douse criticism of Premier Roger Cook, who two weeks ago said in parliament the live export and sheep price issues were unrelated.
“During the heat of debate sometimes, you know, things are said,” Ms Jarvis said.
“I can assure you that I have reiterated my understanding that the confidence in the sheep industry is declining as a result of the decision about live export.”
Asked to join PGA WA president Tony Seabrook and WA Farmers president John Hassell in signing a letter to Agriculture Minister Murray Watt lobbying for the live export ban to be dropped, Ms Jarvis said she would not play politics and that, despite her personal opposition, federal Labor had won a mandate after taking the policy to the 2022 election.
Her speech came after opposition leader Peter Dutton earlier used the conference to call on the state government to be clear about its position on live export.
“The fact it is does create uncertainty in the Middle Eastern market; they will see Australia as an uncertain partner, exactly what happened with live export in cattle,” Mr Dutton said.
“We are not going to allow the industry to phase out and we will do everything in our power when we come back into government to reinstate it.”
He said he feared live export bans would extend to other animals and even to cross-country transport of animals under the current government.