North West an export lifeline

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
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VideoHundreds of people have protested in the city over the live export trade

The North West’s proximity to Asian and Middle Eastern markets could make it a key plank in improving welfare standards in the live export industry, according to the head of the North West’s peak pastoral body.

The live export industry is once again facing heavy scrutiny over animal welfare after damning footage was released highlighting the poor conditions on board some vessels.

Kimberley Pilbara Cattleman’s Association chief executive Emma White said resuming direct exports from Port Hedland to Israel would improve animal welfare standards.

“Given the trade to Israel used to run out of Hedland, I don’t think it is overly ambitious,” she said. “My understanding is about 40 per cent of live export cattle out of the Pilbara does actually go to the Israeli market. We also have shorter distances to Vietnam and Indonesia from the northern ports, and the cattle are more acclimatised so there aren’t the risks or issues being talked about with those Middle Eastern summer voyages.”

Ms White said she was confident in the Federal Government’s handling of the latest incidents and, with the exception of a few individuals, the State Government’s response was also well received.

Durack MHR Melissa Price agreed the North West was an ideal location from which to boost cattle exports.

“Across the board in WA, there is definitely concern from cattle producers and sheep producers that this latest incident means there could be interruption to their business,” she said.

“The North West is part of the solution but you need cattle producers to commit to being in the Pilbara and Kimberley and that often requires capital.”

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies said talk about banning live export over the Middle East summer would make producers shudder.

“You can’t turn markets on and off, supply chains need confidence and continuity,” she said.

“We have top-rate producers, we have great opportunity in the north, you have people talking about investment in more infrastructure. All of those things should be encouraged, not jeopardised.”

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan did not respond by the time of print.

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