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Wool producers to vote on mulesing ban -

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Wool producers to vote on mulesing ban

Broadcast: 18/11/2008


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The practice of mulesing, where skin folds from lambs are cut off to prevent
fly strike has long been under attack from animal rights groups. Tomorrow, a national vote by
Australian wool producers will decide the future of mulesing when sheep farmers elect members of
the Australian Wool Innovation Board. The current board is committed to putting an end to mulesing
in Australia by 2010. But new challengers to the wool board say they'll keep mulesing going and
animal rights groups say they're gearing up for the mother of all campaigns. John Stewart reports.

JOHN STEWART, REPORTER: Australia has over 30,000 wool producers, a flock of 80 million sheep and
an industry worth $2.5 billion a year. But for the past decade, wool producers have been under
intense pressure from animal rights groups to stop mulesing.

PROTESTOR: We're here because we want Australia to stop mutilating sheep.

JOHN STEWART: The animal rights campaigns were so successful that international wool buyers started
demanding non-mulesed wool and the wool innovation board promised to stop cutting the skin of lambs
by 2010.

But that may all change tomorrow if new board members are elected who support mulesing.

MEREDITH SHEIL, INDEPENDENT WOOL BOARD CANDIDATE: Sheep in Australia, particularly our wool sheep,
are well fed, they're well cared for, they're well looked after. And we are protecting them against
what is essentially our biggest predator, which is a fly and a flesh eating maggot.

JOHN STEWART: Dr Meredith Sheil is a candidate for the new wool board. She doesn't believe the 2010
anti-mulesing deadline can be achieved.

MEREDITH SHEIL: I do believe that it's impossible to achieve it without a large number of farmers
either going out of business or having to get out of sheep.

JOHN STEWART: But animal rights groups say that if the wool board drops its 2010 anti-mulesing
deadline, a new international campaign will be launched to stop the sale of Australian wool

GLENYS OOGIES, ANIMALS AUSTRALIA: The cruel mutilation of mulesing has had its day and 2010 is the
deadline that must remain the deadline.

JOHN STEWART: The current Wool Innovation Board chairman, Brian Van Rooyen, says that if Australian
wool producers continue mulesing, the industry is doomed.

retailers and brands that are actually responsible for putting Australian Merino wool on the
shelves of the major retailers - all of them have indicated to us that the industry must

meet its commitment to 2010.

JOHN STEWART: Alternatives to mulesing include selective breeding programs to produce sheep with
less skin folds and the use of plastic clips to kill the skin on lambs without the need for

Dr Sheil invented an anaesthetic spray called Tri Solfen to reduce the pain caused by mulesing. She
says this year, it's been used on 5 million lambs.

Dr Sheil won't say how much money she makes from a licence agreement with Bayer Australia for
inventing Tri Solfen. But she rejects claims that she wants to keep mulesing going in Australia to
sell more of the product.

MEREDITH SHEIL: There are complex issues there that I'm going to have to sort out. And - but I hope
that people will trust my integrity that I would do that within the confines of the Board and
within the confines of what is expected with good corporate governance at board level.

JOHN STEWART: But the current Chairman of the Board says Dr Sheil does have a conflict of interest.

BRIAN VAN ROOYEN: Any director who has a conflict of interest and a potential material personal
benefit has to declare that and cannot

participate in discussions in the areas in which these have conflicts.

JOHN STEWART: If pro-mulesing candidates win tomorrow's Wool Board ballot, Australia's wool exports
may be in for their biggest battle yet with animal rights groups.

John Stewart, Lateline.