The Federal Opposition says it’s an “insult” the Government has again failed to properly advertise its consultation process for the phasing out of live sheep export, ahead of a stakeholder forum in Geraldton next week. The consultation panel responsible for listening to stakeholder concerns has received negative feedback ahead of its appearance in the Mid West on Monday. The public forum will be held at Geraldton’s Multi-Purpose Centre on June 19 from 10-11.45am before moving on to Merredin, Kondinin, Lake Grace and Darkan. The consultation process was revealed to be costing taxpayers $5 million, involving an independent panel visiting regional WA and Perth to engage with stakeholders and gauge concerns. The panel have been tasked with leading the phase-out of the $92m industry, and how it will impact farmers, exporters and other businesses, conducting their focus groups during one of the busiest times for farmers across the nation. Federal Durack MP Melissa Price said she was “alarmed and dismayed” these meetings had not been comprehensively advertised to farmers and the broader community. “This is an insult and shows a blatant disregard to an industry that is worth $85 million and employs more than 3000 people in WA. Labor’s determination to shut down the live sheep trade is yet another anti-WA Albanese Government decision,” she said. Raw nerves have been struck at previous meetings, with limited notice given of dates and times, and some discussion nights made to be invite-only. The lack of notice angered Corrigin sheep producer Steven Bolt, president of industry body The Livestock Collective. Mr Bolt expressed his frustration on Twitter ahead of the last round of meetings, questioning claims by Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt that the Government wanted to conduct the phase-out “in an inclusive way”. “How then is this acceptable that WA sheep industry and rural communities get 48 hrs notice for public meetings with limited seats to meet with (the) #LiveExport phase out panel?” Mr Bolt wrote. Further backlash was found in response to panel members being too far removed from the industry themselves, and having no livestock-export experience. The panel was appointed in early March and includes senior public servant Phillip Glyde, prominent WA farmer Sue Middleton, former RSPCA chief executive Heather Neil, and retired Northern Territory Labor MP Warren Snowdon. A government spokesperson said: “Consultation through an independent panel is under way to inform how and when that (live export of sheep by sea ban) will happen. The panel will report back in September and we look forward to reading its findings. The Government will continue to engage constructively with industry about growth opportunities that exist outside of the live sheep export trade, including an expansion of onshore processing.” WA sheep producer Steve McGuire said the panel were responsible for an impossible task. “They’ve been given a very difficult job. I, myself, have put a lot of thought into what they could do and I have nothing. I do say to them ‘good luck, you’re going to need it’,” he said. The panel is expected to report back to Senator Watt by September 30.