Live-ex sheep review delayed as speculation grows over industry future

UPDATED 11AM Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud will release a report on the future of live sheep exports, as speculation mounts the Coalition’s support for the industry is divided.

Mr Littleproud, who says a well-regulated industry has a viable future, commissioned experienced industry veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy to review shipping standards, which he said would take four to five weeks.

"This will be a short, sharp review looking into the standards of the northern summer trade to give confidence in those boats and the standards in which those sheep go to the Middle East," Mr Littleproud said when announcing the review.

Media anticipated the review would be released this morning, but Mr Littlerpoud’s office said it will be released tomorrow morning, at a press conference in Sydney.

It is understood Mr Littleproud was happy with outcome of Cabinet’s consideration of the report.

Labor’s Agricultural Spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said stakeholders who have gathered in Canberra for the release of the review’s report had “are left shaking their heads”.

“Already late, the review is looking more tenuous and torturous than short and sharp,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Labor said earlier this month when in government it would ban live sheep exports after a winding-down period.

Regional Liberal MP Sussan Ley, from Farrer in NSW, has previously called for an end to sheep live exports.

Mr Littleproud also called the Moss review, into the Agriculture Department, following the controversial 60 Minutes footage of live exported sheep.

The footage brought to light by 60 Minutes on April 8, was highly distressing for farmers and all Australians. Such circumstances are absolutely unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen again.

National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said the trade should continue, but stricter controls are needed.

“Change that increases oversight and transparency and most importantly, upholds animal welfare to the standard expected by all reasonable Australians,” Ms Simson said.

“A ‘do nothing approach’ is not an option here.

“We look forward to the Report’s release.”