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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2015 2016
SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2015-16 45 Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA Inc. (PGA) As a state farming organisation, PGA supports it membership in the operation of profitable farm businesses. PGA works with industry through the Western Livestock Committee, which is chaired by Kojonup sheep and woolgrower Digby Stretch. York prime lamb producer and hay exporter David Boyle is a long-serving PGA representative to SCA, and is currently the council’s treasurer. SISP PGA was happy to see the unveiling of the Sheep Industry Strategic Plan (SISP) 2015- 2020 last year. Many organisations, especially governments, overestimate their ability to predict the future and to plan for it in a precise and technocratic way. PGA believes the current SISP sets clear goals, and how they are to be realised through the completion of “key activities”. By allocating responsibilities for these key activities, the strategy allows the organisations involved the freedom to make their own business plans that will deliver the necessary outcomes. eRFID for sheep and goats PGA was very happy to be joined in a media release with the national peak industry councils and the other SFOs calling for the continuation of the current mob-based traceability scheme under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). This was in response to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, calling for tenders for the production of eR FID tags to be used as part of a compulsory tagging system for sheep and goats in Victoria. PGA does not support electronic identification for sheep by government edict; there must be a market demand. Further, the Chairman of the Livestock Committee wrote to the WA Minister for Agriculture & Food reiterating PGA’s support for the current system of visual tagging combined with reporting of mob-based movements to the NLIS computer database. Live export It is PGA’s firm belief that live export has an ongoing role to play in the future prosperity of Western Australian farm businesses. Livestock exporters and primary producers are partners in the industry. PGA is pleased to note that new markets are opening and better access to existing markets is becoming available in the wake of the negotiation of successful Free Trade Agreements (Korea – December 2014, Japan – January 2015, and China – December 2015). It is also apparent that the current government has worked exceedingly hard to repair the damage done by the previous Labor Government to Australia’s international reputation as a reliable supplier. Further, new cost recovery arrangements for live animal exports were introduced in 2014. Prior to this, there was only fee-for-service cost recovery so the department loaded its system costs into the fees through higher hourly rates. It appears total cost recovery for live export has decreased, from $11 million to $7.3 million. Animal welfare PGA notes that there is still substantial interest by third parties into the activities of livestock businesses. PGA says this interest is unwarranted, and represents the extension of control over farm businesses by those ideologically opposed to livestock production for food. Activists are not impartial. They do not seek to use the usual avenues open to the public to prosecute their agendas. They use the court of public opinion. When animal activists make a release of inflammatory material into the public domain, the onus must be on them to prove its veracity. The release of such material outside of Australia’s system of courts is an attempt to manipulate the law by moulding public sentiment in pursuit of their own strategy. Consequently, PGA supports the Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill 2015 that was read into the Senate by Senator Chris Back. In July this year, PGA became aware of the Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015. Astute readers will note that a similar bill (Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2013) was read into the Senate and the House of Representatives by members of the Australian Greens in June 2013. At that time, this bill had reached the stage of a ‘second reading’ but had not been considered in detail. The bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 43rd parliament. The PGA does not support an Independent Office of Animal Welfare for the simple reason that it is not required. Even the most cursory look at the policies, principles, rules and guidelines surrounding animal welfare will show that it is already complicated, intricate and involved. It is difficult to see how any more legislation, or legislative offices, or office holders, could be an improvement. If the objective of uniform legal regulation governing the process from beginning to end is to be pursued, then it should be to simplify the process so that livestock producers can go about their legitimate business activities, with clear regulatory guidance from governments. In Western Australia, a Select Committee of the WA Parliament is currently carrying out an inquiry into the operations of the RSPCA (WA). It is PGA’s belief that the RSPCA has shifted to a policy position that will obstruct the business interests of PGA’s membership. Earlier, a simple Google search for RSPCA WA and clicking the ‘top hit’ would take the user to a RSPCA web page that opened with a banner questioning the export of livestock from Australia. PGA is concerned that the RSPCA opposes a lawful and legally approved business activity that adds millions of dollars to the Western Australian economy. Further, the Western Australian Government carried out an independent review of certain aspects of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. PGA took the opportunity to suggest the RSPCA WA appoint general inspectors under the Act within Western Australia with significant police powers, including search, entry, inquiry, and seizure. PGA believes the RSPCA must be accountable to the public of WA by reporting and being accountable for its activities to the Parliament of Western Australia. Ian Randles PGA Policy Officer The PGA is a non-profit industry organisation established in 1907, which represents primary producers in both the pastoral and agricultural regions in Western Australia.