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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12573


Mr HAASE (Durack) (19:39): I rise this evening to bring to the attention of the House some changes in the live animal exports saga. We have become very knowledgeable about the plight of pastoralists in Northern Australia whose only source of income is the breeding of Bos indicus cattle for export and the live market, primarily to Indonesia. We saw that dreadful time when, because of the airing of a video on the slaughtering process in Indonesia and then a knee-jerk reaction from the Gillard government, the industry was shut down. We saw the pain and suffering that the industry was subjected to.

We have now seen a set of regulations put in place that is quite reasonable and acceptable to all players in the industry, and we are now at about 40 per cent of the normal export rate into Indonesia. We are hopeful, however, that the number will increase within the constraints of this new regime where all animals will be electronically tagged and at every point in the chain accounted for, head by head. We will further require that these animals are slaughtered in an abattoir that has internationally accepted standards.

But the latest change in all of this is the greatest concern to me. The Farm Weekly of 20 October had a headline, 'RSPCA keen to work with livestock industry.' It is rather odd that an institution that believes the breeding of livestock for slaughter for food consumption is cruel should want to work with the livestock industry to develop standards and process that will be advantageous for animals. In short, I believe that this is a smokescreen designed exclusively to maintain the income of membership dues to keep the organisation and its employees in the manner to which they have become accustomed. They have become accustomed to the very high contributions that pastoralists and agriculturalists and others have made over the years in the interest of domestic pet welfare and to track down and bring to justice those who would deliberately inflict cruelty to animals.

When this organisation enters into the industrial arena of the breeding of livestock specifically for slaughter, they step outside their bivouac. They step onto very thin ice—it is delicate ground—because they cloud the issue. In the main they have a membership that is city based and is increasingly out of touch with the realities of agriculture and pastoralism and where their meat protein comes from. Assuredly their meat protein comes from farms and pastoral stations where animals are bred specifically for slaughter for city folk who are accustomed to going to a fine restaurant and paying a high price for a tender beefsteak and who would be shattered if they could not do so. But they never, ever want to be reminded that that beefsteak was once a living thing and had to be slaughtered to enable them to consume it. It concerns me a great deal that the PGA would now consider getting into bed, so to speak, with the RSPCA. My criticism of the RSPCA is that they are more interested now in their continuation in office and they are still concerned about maintaining those contributions. (Time expired)