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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2145


Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (17:06): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I rise to speak on the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 Livestock mortalities during export by seareports for the period of 1 July to 31 December 2017. Live exports are obviously a vital part of the agricultural sector, particularly in my home state of Western Australia. The latest livestock mortality report shows an ongoing very good result for the sector in delivering very good animal welfare outcomes for the live export trade. We've seen fairly stable, but slowly declining, mortality rates for the live export trade, particularly in the cattle sector, over the seven years of the reporting, as published on the departmental website. We saw a rate in 2010 of 0.14 per cent. There's been a little bit of movement up and down but it's been fairly constant around that level, declining in 2017 to 0.1 per cent. Obviously the industry continues to improve over time. Similarly in the sheep export trade, we've seen, again, a little bit of movement up and down, but we've seen another period of equal best reporting over the period 2010 to 2017, declining from 0.89 per cent in 2010 to 0.71 per cent in 2017, which was, as I mentioned, the equal best result in that particular area of the trade, equal with 2014.

Obviously the live export trade does attract some criticism, particularly from green groups, but it is a very important part of the agricultural sector. We have a long tradition of exporting livestock to overseas markets and we have a very proud tradition of providing very high animal welfare standards. With the ESCAS process and with the active engagement of the live animal sector with overseas markets, we are continuing to see improvements in animal welfare in overseas markets as well. Obviously it's not all smooth sailing. There are different approaches to animal welfare in different countries, and we have seen the results trumpeted across our TV screens at various times throughout the years. However, as this report shows, we do see a slow but steady and clear improvement in the mortality rates over time.

As someone who comes from a farming background, I know that farmers and entities associated with the farm sector, including the live export trade, have a very high commitment to animal welfare standards, both on their own properties and through the supply chain. The sector has been very proactive in making sure that animal welfare standards are paramount, in areas that we obviously control, such as our own farms, and through the supply chain, through the live export chain and then on into overseas markets. Importing countries need to have confidence in the system as well. They need to have confidence in the health status and quality of Australian livestock. Our regulatory certification system is obviously the most robust and comprehensive in the world. In order to supply those markets, we need to be able to show both the Australian community and those foreign markets that we have a very robust, very strong animal welfare focused supply chain. Again, the live export sector is extremely important to the agricultural sector, particularly to the agricultural sector in WA.