Nationals leader Michael McCormack addresses regional issues during WA trip

“We’re the only nation in the world with the Export Supply Chain Assurance System in place. That scheme ensures animal welfare is placed front and centre.”

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals leader and Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael McCormack has strongly defended the embattled live sheep export trade during his early-August trip to WA.

Mr McCormack said it was critical that live exports were open and would remain open under the Coalition.

“The Middle East wants the sheep, they want them not just for the northern summer for the religious festivals and other commemorations that they’ve got, but certainly in the other months of the year when I know the trade gets busier,” he said.

The Nationals leader said measures introduced by the Federal Government, including reducing stocking density by 28 per cent, having independent assessors on board live export vessels and increasing ventilation for livestock, meant animal welfare was a priority.

The live sheep trade was thrown into turmoil following the release of gruesome footage of sheep in terrible conditions heading from Australia to the Middle East earlier in the year.

However Mr McCormack has insisted farmers should not have to bear the consequences.

“Farmers should not have to take the fall for the alleged actions of an exporter,” he said.

“The exporters are on notice too that they’ve got to do the right thing.

“They have to do the right thing for the sake of the sheep, for the sake of the industry and for the sake of Australian farming in general.”

Mr McCormack dismissed the suggestion the end of the live export trade would lead to more processing jobs as the talk of people who were “sitting in their cafes in inner Melbourne and inner Sydney”.

“They quite frankly wouldn't know the difference between a hogget and a wether,” he said.

“Quite frankly they wouldn't even know what a sheep was.

“They just think that it’s something that's packaged, processed in a cryovac when they go to the cold section of the supermarket.”