IN THE NEWS: Barnaby Joyce attacks live sheep export 'zealots' at heated rally of WA farmers in Katanning

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IN THE NEWS: On JUL 20, 2018

Barnaby Joyce has issued a rallying call to defend Australia's live export trade to a crowd of about 1,000 farmers in Western Australia's south, after footage showing heat-stressed and dying Australian sheep sparked a public backlash against the multi-million-dollar industry.

The Member for New England received a warm welcome in Katanning, about 280 kilometres south-east of Perth in Western Australia's sheep farming heartland.

He said if recent threats to shut down the live sheep industry were successful, the "zealots" would then come for the live cattle industry and then the transport and poultry industry.

"What we're up against, is like a religion," Mr Joyce said.

"Zealotry. And they're not going to stop with just the closure of the live export sheep game, that's not where they stop. These people haven't got a partial religion, they've got an absolute religion."

Joyce is 'not your friend': MacTiernan

Multiple inquiries have been called into the live export trade in recent years.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud launched a review after the airing of footage earlier this year aboard an Emanuel Exports vessel bound for the Middle East showing sheep panting from heat stress and covered in excrement. A total of 2,400 sheep eventually died on the voyage.

Recommendations from that review presented in May called for a major reduction in live sheep exports to the region during the dangerous hot months in the middle of the year.

A second review by the Federal Department of Agriculture is still underway into the live export trade, and the Federal Labor Party has called for it to be phased out.

At the rally, which attracted farmers from far reaches of the state, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan accused Mr Joyce of hypocrisy, saying when he was the federal agriculture minister he removed important animal welfare protections in the industry.

She said he shut down the animal welfare unit and advisory body in the federal Department of Agriculture during his time at the helm.

"I just find this absolutely inconceivable, that this man who has overseen the destruction of this industry has the cheek to come here, unless he's here to give an apology," she said.

"I say to farmers: People like that are not your friend.

You can come along here with a large hat and pretend you're a farmer and pretend you're the farmer's friend, and not tell the truth.

"The truth is, that no-one from any political party can say hand-on-heart, 100 per cent, this industry is going to be here in five-to-seven years' time."

She said she would seek a "significant structural re-adjustment package" from the Federal Government if it made a decision to phase out the industry.

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