During a 24-hour Middle East stopover last month, Agriculture Department Secretary Andrew Metcalfe and ambassador Melissa Kelly reportedly met officials from Kuwait’s food safety and agriculture affairs departments to tell them about the government’s policy to phase out live exports in the second term of a Labor administration. Now the Live Ex industry is bellyaching that they should have gone to the Trade Minister and even that the Kuwaiti government will reportedly register its concerns about a diplomatic gaffe.
How very interesting - one would assume that if that was the case, they would have been informed that by the food safety and agriculture affairs departments in Kuwait. How was it even possible to set up the meeting if it was such a diplomatic gaffe? An outsider could be blamed for thinking that once again the live ex industry is dictating to governments, in this case perhaps both Australia and Kuwait. No doubt they were most peturbed to hear that Mr Metcalfe said there was “quite significant interest” from government officials about the potential for chilled or frozen lamb meat to be exported to Kuwait instead of live sheep. Who would have thought....!
The Guardian reports that almost half the live export ships that sailed from Australia without an independent observer last year claimed there was “insufficient space” to allow them onboard.
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said the “live export industry is obviously taking the government for a ride”.
“Both the government and the live export industry are to blame for the utter decimation of the independent observer program,” she said. “The government clearly has little interest in ensuring proper transparency on live export ships, and has even resisted publishing reports from the few voyages that do have observers.”
It's the ultimate in sanitisation - dont produce the reports, saves sanitising them afterwards!
If Australian live sheep are so important for food security in Kuwait (see Public Statement of Reasons from David Hazlehurst re MV Al Kuwait exemption June 2020), why is there no extreme haste/urgency and effort by KLTT to get sheep from Fremantle to Kuwait this sailing period (Oct 22 to May 23)?
Whilst the MV Al Messilah has made 3 trips, the MV Al Kuwait has been conspicuously missing from Freo since October 2022 and has been listed on vessel tracking sites as being in the Arabian Sea, not under command, waiting orders...?!
Maybe Aust live sheep are unnecessary after all - well who needs them when one can stock the Middle East freezers with frozen Australian lamb????
NOTE: interestingly Al Messilah is currently anchored off Sri Lanka (not a particularly usual destination/location). Are there ship problems....or dare we hope she is being sent for scrap in India????