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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7404

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (20:30): I move:

That this bill be read a second time.

Mr BANDT: It is barely two weeks since I introduced this bill into the House. Government and industry media announce¬≠ments during these two short weeks have made it clear that Australia is not in the position of being able to provide any reasonable oversight and supervision of the welfare of cattle sent to Indonesia, and indeed to other countries, in any reasonable period of time. Not even Meat and Livestock Australia, spinning as hard as they can, are willing to make the claim that we can resume an animal export industry in the near future with animal welfare standards at a level acceptable to Australians. They cannot make that claim, because Australians, who have now been exposed to the extent of the systemic abuse and absence of sufficient oversight of animal welfare , understand that these problems are not minor and will not just be solved in the space of a few weeks—which, incidentally, is the government's naive timeline for resuming the trade to Indonesia.

The fact is that this industry has never been and will never be ethically viable, and there are far too many years of systemic abuse behind it to argue otherwise. Recent announcements in the media by the government and industry will not amount to solutions: the truth is that, to the likes of Meat and Livestock Australia, animal welfare issues are predominately a matter of perception management rather than matters to invest resources in. The last thing we need is yet another quick fix where the perception of action is prioritised higher than actual investment in raising animal welfare standards. The bottom line is that the industry will, as any does, fight to remain profitable, and it will do so despite the associated ethically indefensible consequ­ences. Just as thousands of constituents and citizens across the country have requested of me in recent weeks, including many graziers, it is time for parliamentarians to put an end to this cruelty. Thousands of cattle, sheep and goats in overseas feedlots, storage yards and slaughterhouses are being abused tonight out of sight of the Australian public. Millions will be exported and mistreated over the next three years alone. It is time for the government to step in and say enough is enough. Minister Ludwig must start listening to the Australian public, who want strong protections against cruelty. Only the Greens' bill will deliver that strong action and provide for an immediate and complete ban on live animal exports for slaughter. I listened earlier this evening to the member for Calare speaking about the tropical climes that animals enjoy on their trips up to Indonesia. I listened for a good nine minutes before I heard the phrase 'animal welfare' mentioned. I stand to be corrected on that by the Hansard but it is clear from those who oppose taking measures that animal welfare is not their No. 1 priority. As anyone who has been associated with the industry would know, live animal exports are shiploads of misery.

Mr Haase interjecting

Mr BANDT: This is something that we Greens have known for a while, and that is why it has been our longstanding policy that we took to the election. I pay tribute to those many campaigners around the country who over many years have worked tirelessly. The recent exposes were not something that happened overnight. I pay particular tribute to the RSPCA and Animals Australia and Lyn White.

There is an alternative. As I have advocated for in this place previously, the government can easily commit to improving and increasing the process of slaughter in Australia to support local producers and jobs. The community benefits of processing meat in Australia have been underestimated for too long and are being talked down by the live export industry. No doubt the member for Durack, who has been interjecting, will again reiterate the industry talking points, but those who oppose measures and those who want to continue this ethically unsustainable trade need to explain why they are against jobs. A 2010 report commissioned by Australia's leading processors found that live cattle exports compete with and undermine Australia's domestic beef industry, leading to lost processing opportunities here. The domestic animal welfare standards here are anything but perfect, but they are an improvement on what will always be uncontrollable international standards. And so I call on the government, particularly those among its backbench members who have done good work in advancing the argument that an ethically viable live export industry is a fictional concept, to join the Greens' longstanding call for the cessation of the live export industry. I implore members to act ethically and support the immediate cessation of live exports for slaughter, and I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?