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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8410

Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (16:19): We have an opportunity to do—

Mr Katter interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Andrews ): Order! The member for Kennedy will resume his seat if he wants to contribute to this debate.

Ms SHARKIE: We have an opportunity to do a very good thing here today, and goodness knows we need to start doing some good things in this place. Six months ago we all saw the 60 Minutes interview, and I would say that there is not a member in this chamber who has not received emails, phone calls or personal representations from their community. They want us to act. This motion quite simply says, 'Please debate this bill.' The Senate has debated this bill, and the Senate has passed this bill. All we are saying is: allow us to debate this bill. That is what a democracy does. That is actually the job of every person in this place. We are employed by our communities to be legislators, and our communities want us to vote on this bill.

I refer to the comments by both of my crossbench colleagues here: this is perhaps not the bill that many people who are supportive of ending animal cruelty want. However, it is a compromise. The first thing we need to do is actually use this place—this place that is supposed to be a place for the contest of ideas and the contest for debate—for constructive debate.

I have received thousands of emails from my community. I have a regional community. I have a community with many entirely rural pockets. Even sheep farmers have said, 'Rebekha, we need to end this industry.' My community wants to see its closed abattoirs reopened. We have an abattoir begging to be opened at Normanville. We have an abattoir, Thomas Foods, at Lobethal. They already have two chefs. They could put on a third. These are true regional jobs. To every member over there who stands on their feet and lauds regional Australia, and says how much they support regional Australia and want to see regional jobs: there are no truer jobs in regional Australia than those in the meat processing industry. They are good, quality jobs. They are stable jobs. They don't exist on the north shores of Sydney or in central Melbourne, but they do exist in my community and many of the regional communities around here.

Let us debate the facts. My goodness, New Zealand must just laugh at us and at how we are dragged kicking and screaming to progressive debate in our country compared to theirs. We should be following New Zealand's path. Their lamb meat—and I have travelled to many places overseas—is considered to be much better quality than ours, simply because they no longer have long-haul live exports.

I would like to refer to the member for Farrer's comments when she introduced her bill. I have tremendous respect for the member for Farrer. I was very pleased to be sitting in her room, before she introduced her bill, meaningfully discussing the merits of this proposed legislation with members from the crossbench, the Greens and Labor. That is what this place is supposed to do. The member for Farrer said:

I have researched the science, the facts, the economics and the opinions. I have not allowed emotions to overcome reason.

The case for continuing long-haul live sheep exports fails on both economic and animal welfare grounds.

I would say that they will be hollow words if the member for Farrer does not support this bill being debated. I would also ask the members for Corangamite and La Trobe to consider the words that they have said in this place and outside, in the media, with supporters of animal welfare behind them.

A couple of weeks ago we all saw, in the media, the Prime Minister give lapel pins of the Australian flag to his new frontbench. He said that they were to remind everybody that they're there for the Australian people. Let me say this to the government: if you are genuinely there for the Australian people, you will allow this bill to be debated and you will support this motion. We need to restore the faith of the Australian community, and this is one very good way to do it.