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Dutton opposes ban on live sheep exports

The opposition leader has thrown his support behind the live sheep export trade after tensions arose within the Liberal and Nationals coalition.

Visiting Western Australia on Friday, Peter Dutton said he had shown "clear and consistent" support for the live export industry.

"I wanted to make it very clear today that we'll support the industry, firstly to fight against Labor's attempts to close it down, and if they do close it down, our commitment to reinstate it," he told reporters.

"It's a huge part of the economy here.

"It's hard to find an alternative for these farms, their families.

"It's not just the farmers, it's the stores in town, all of the producers of fertiliser, distributors of all of those products that go into making a modern farm work."

Tensions arose between the Liberals and Nationals when deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley reaffirmed her support for the phase out of the live sheep trade.

The Nationals are firmly opposed to any halt, as are Australia's peak farming groups.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is consulting on a timeframe to phase out live sheep exports by sea and hasn't yet indicated whether farmers can expect some form of compensation if they lose business.

"I'm not sure that we necessarily are facing a situation where farmers will lose their business or go out of business," he said.

Animal rights groups have welcomed the move after distressing videos emerged of the animals dying due to the heat while being transported to the Middle East.

But sheep exporters have called the idea "dumb" and noted safety improvements in the sector.

WA Farmers president John Hassell has warned it will negatively impact 3000 people associated with the $85 million industry.

Mr Dutton said Labor's policy was pandering to inner city voters in Sydney and Canberra.

"They have no regard for farming families out here in the west," he said.

"We're here to stand up for those families."