In a significant escalation, farmers and supporters across WA have declared that they will seek to destabilise the Albanese government in critical seats ahead of the next federal election over its moves to introduce a ban on live export of sheep.

The live export industry has fundamentally reformed, and the government is steadfastly ignoring the changes since this policy was adopted by the Australian Labor Party.

In a new campaign that launches today, people will be asked to support farmers and country towns by joining the “Keep the Sheep” campaign.

WA truckie, Ben Sutherland, who runs 5K Livestock in Ravensthorpe, says the ban will gut his local town and he’s imploring people to join him in asking WA Federal Labor MPs to stand up for the local sheep industry and farmers.

“The live sheep trade is so important to us. It underpins our farming systems and creates thousands of jobs from the paddock to the time the animal departs Australia,” he said.

“In the middle of a cost of living crisis, the Government is going to shut it down, just to try and get a few votes from activists in Sydney and Melbourne.

It’s a disgrace that WA Labor Federal MPs aren’t standing up for their state.

We want to show them how much support there is for our farmers by putting their jobs under threat at the next election.”

“We will be targeting WA marginal seats like Tangney, Swan and Hasluck to build on the support we have in the community to save our farmers and our towns.”

Australia’s live export industry is worth $1.3 billion and provides thousands of jobs across WA.

“Keeping the sheep, means keeping livelihoods. It means keeping our towns alive. We’re calling on the support of our fellow West Australians to help us keep the sheep!”

The Keep the Sheep campaign encourages people to sign up at and follow its social media channels to support the campaign and resist Canberra’s attacks on WA’s farming families.



About live sheep exports in Australia:

  • Australia has the highest animal welfare standards in the world. The Australian Standards for Export of Livestock (ASEL) and The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System or ESCAS (Australian supply chain standards) ensures good animal welfare from farms in Australia which follows the animal to the point of slaughter. 
  • Australian live sheep exports have record low mortality rates and rates for sheep have been under 1% for a decade. This is an 81% reduction in mortality in the last decade.1
  • Assertions that the trade is dying are incorrect. The trade is up 18% year on year in 2023.2 New markets are in discussions and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reopened late last year and has already taken over ~50k Australian sheep since then.3
  • Australia’s trading partners already take chilled and boxed meat. Removing live export won’t increase demand for these products – trading partners will simply source livestock from other countries, leading to an overall decline in global animal welfare standards.
  • Most sheep leave Australia ex. Fremantle, so the issue is of particular importance to WA. The Western Australian government’s conservative modelling4 shows: 

o A 13% decrease in the size of the flock over the 10 years, from 12.0M to 10.5M.
o A decline in Lamb slaughter from 3.2M in year one to 2.8M in year 10
o A fall in sheep slaughter from 1.4M in year one to 1.1M in year 10.
o A decrease in wool production from 52.6M kg in year one to 43.1M kg in year 10, a decline of 18%, due to both a smaller flock and less merinos.

  • Ultimately, a weaker WA sheep sector will mean higher supermarket prices for WA families.

1, p. 4.
4 p. 7





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