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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 659


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (10:31): I rise today on the matter of live animal exports, which is deeply concerning to many in my community in the seat of Kingston. Over some time now we have seen quite sickening and very distressing reports about the mistreatment of animals overseas which have been exported from Australia. This treatment has occurred in places such as Gaza, Indonesia, Egypt and Bahrain. A range of people in my electorate have raised concerns about the inhumane treatment of animals. I received hundreds of calls for action from my constituents, some said they believe the system needs strengthening and others asked for a complete ban of live exports altogether. This has been an issue for some time.

The former federal Labor government did bring in a number of changes to the system including abolishing a regime of self-regulation—which in many instances failed—and which looked at the traceability of animals so that one can determine where they were traded and where they originated. Labor took to the last election a policy of a more stringent regime with an independent office of animal welfare to further strengthen the system. I believe it is incredibly important that the government look at implementing an independent office of animal welfare, an independent statutory body, because if the confidence is not in our community for live animal exports then the demand will be for it to stop. At the moment, when I move around my electorate the confidence is not there. Increasingly, we are seeing reports and footage come through that disturb and upset people quite explicitly.

Last December I wrote to the federal Liberal Minister for Agriculture around the concerns my electors have. Unfortunately I received the response:

The Australian government believes that the livestock trade is subject to the appropriate level of regulatory oversight and has effective review mechanisms in place.

People in my electorate do not have that confidence. They do not believe it is effective and they do not believe it is doing the job. We need to not sit on our hands when it comes to the treatment and welfare of animals that are traded overseas in our name. We need to have more checks and balances. We need to ensure that these animals are treated in a humane way that does not prolong suffering such as in some of the reports that we have seen. It is up to the Australian government to ensure that those protections are put in place. My constituents are calling for it.