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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11541


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:30): David Weisbrot, former chair of Australian Law Reform Commission, said he thought animal welfare would be the next great social justice movement. That was well and truly demonstrated over the weekend, with mass rallies held across Australia, including in my electorate of Fremantle, where people demanded accountability in the live export trade.    Last week on 7.30 we saw Australian sheep being thrown into the backs of cars and left to lie there on the baking aluminium, sheep slaughtered by people with no training or experience—sheep that were supposed to be guaranteed humane treatment under ESCAS.

I especially want to acknowledge the work of those Animals Australia investigators for their courage in bearing witness to the most awful torture of innocent animals. They do this in the expectation that such evidence, when presented to the responsible authorities, will lead to consequences for the exporters involved. Yet, of the 40 extensive legal complaints brought by Animals Australia relating to serious ESCAS failures in 12 different recipient countries over the last three years, what is the result? There has not been a single prosecution, cancellation or even suspension of export licences. The question is: why are live export companies considered above the law when every other Australian industry knows it either complies with regulations or is prosecuted?

Last week, for the first time, one live export company, Wellard, has called for tough sanctions against those exporters routinely breaching ESCAS. Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no effective government oversight through ESCAS due to the complete lack of interest of the minister and his department in carrying out their duty to ensure animal welfare. That is why Labor is committed to the establishment of an independent office of animal welfare.