A fresh war of words has broken out between the Greens and industry groups over a proposed live export facility in Kwinana, after a key Nationals MP called on the WA Government to speed its development.
Greens animal welfare spokeswoman Lynn MacLaren said it was "folly" to build a port for a discredited industry, and more effort should be made developing refrigerated meat exports.
"The live export of animals for meat is on the way out," she said.
"Not only is Australia not meeting its animal welfare obligations by shipping live cattle and sheep abroad, it's a terribly wasteful way to export food.
"We want to tackle unemployment in Kwinana - and that means providing opportunities locally. Let's have chilled meat processed in WA and exported ready for consumption."
The bulk port facility is being touted by tycoon Len Buckeridge and would also handle wheat and other commodities including minerals and building products.
It has become a major flashpoint between WA's third-richest man and the State Government. Mr Buckeridge is suing the Government for $1 billion in damages over what he claims is a broken contract. At issue is a dispute over a second container stage, and conditions attached to the lease of land for the bulk port.
As _WestBusiness _reported yesterday, senior Nationals MP Wendy Duncan became the most prominent member of the Liberal- National Government to call for the port to proceed, claiming it was desperately needed for the sector to grow.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Rob Gillam said yesterday Mrs Duncan's "public" intervention was welcome, and it was essential to plan for capacity shortages at Fremantle port.
"We need to be able to start making provisions now for a couple of years down the track when it (Fremantle) clearly won't be able to handle the trade," he said.
Premier Colin Barnett argued last year that the live export trade would eventually decline. But Mrs Duncan said live exports were essential to help farmers diversify.
WA Livestock Exporters Association chairman John Edwards said Ms MacLaren's position ignored the fact the port would ship more than live exports, and was an argument for lower prices and a "death knell" for rural communities.
"Her argument ignores the fact that our customers want a combination of live sheep and chilled and frozen meat," Mr Edwards said. "If they can't source live exports from Australia they will get it from other countries with lower standards."