Pressure is mounting on Mark McGowan to give Alannah MacTiernan the boot over her divisive foot-and-mouth disease comments, with a Federal MP saying she “is a danger to not just WA agriculture” but the whole State.
Nationals leader David Littleproud is the latest politician to call for the WA Agriculture and Food Minister to be sacked after she claimed an outbreak of foot-and-mouth would result in cheaper meat and milk for Australians.
Ms MacTiernan’s remarks have offended farmers and her agriculture counterparts across the country.
“Alannah MacTiernan’s comments are the most abhorrent I’ve heard from an Australian agriculture minister,” Mr Littleproud, the Federal shadow agriculture minister, told The West Australian.
“Agriculture ministers are meant to understand the industry and then support and promote it. This minister has time and time again shown she can do neither.
“If Mark McGowan was serious about Western Australia he’d sack this minister, who is a danger to not just WA agriculture but the State itself.”
Mr McGowan agreed on Monday that Ms MacTiernan “went a bit far and made a mistake” with her FMD commentary but again backed the “very hardworking minister” amid growing calls for her resignation.
Mr Littleproud, Nationals candidate Merome Beard — who is contesting the North West Central by-election, Agricultural Region MLC Steve Martin, Federal Liberal MP Rick Wilson and State Shadow agriculture minister Colin de Grussa have all voiced their concerns about Ms MacTiernan’s position.
But Mr McGowan has refused to contemplate moving her.
“She puts a huge amount of effort into her portfolio and is a workaholic,” Mr McGowan said.
“And she has a whole raft of achievements to her name and is very committed to our farming communities, regional communities and the agriculture sector in general.
“She apologised for her words. She knows she went a bit far and made a mistake in what she said. I think that’s the end of the matter.”
Ms MacTiernan said she and her department were “doing absolutely everything” to prevent the highly contagious disease — that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs — from entering the State.
“I am very sorry that my comments about local market impacts gave some farmers the impression we are not taking the threat of foot-and-mouth disease seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“We are doing absolutely everything we can to prevent it coming into WA and making sure we have the best and swiftest response if FMD does enter our State.
“FMD is a serious threat, and we continue to work closely with the Federal Government and industry on this very serious biosecurity matter.”