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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3016

Senator GEORGIOU (Western Australia) (12:03): The images we saw from the Awassi Express earlier this year were horrendous and should never again be repeated. No animal should suffer what we saw, whether they are shipped to the Middle East, Asia or even to the eastern states. I believe in the strict enforcement of laws and regulations regarding the live export of all animals. Furthermore, I fully support sanctions and penalties on any and all companies that do not comply with the laws and regulations. Personally, I believe that, if need be, they should have their export licences revoked. Make no mistake, I in no way endorse the mistreatment of animals. This legislation, however, has been hastily put together without thought or consideration for the welfare of the live export animals: sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. Neither has any consideration been given to the livelihoods of our farmers or our strategic allies.

It appears that the intention of this bill was merely to promote its author. Derryn Hinch has joined the list of eastern-state elites, including the Liberal's Sussan Ley and Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon, who have refused to come out west to speak to the farmers whose lives would be destroyed. Also, they engage in cheap political pointscoring. These elites should have the decency to come out and look the farmers in the eyes and explain why their livelihoods should be destroyed overnight.

Having spoken to Western Australian farmers, I personally saw the disgust on their faces after what they saw on the Awassi Express. Having read the evidence, I also know that WA farmers were not to blame. This bill does nothing to address the concerns of the welfare of the animals, nor does it acknowledge any of the measures brought forward by the farmers themselves to deal with the issue. It also fails to take into account the food security of Israel, one of Australia's closest partners and our fifth largest market for live exports. Banning live exports to Israel would increase the strain on their food security, given the regional instability that we are currently witnessing in that area.

I do not believe that now is the right time to turn our back on our allies. In Australia, we ask major projects to conduct the stakeholder consultation process and for socioeconomic impact assessments to be written. Just ask any mining company and they will tell you the process they must go through to prove that they have spoken to local communities and have assessed any major impacts. The Liberal and Labor parties, and now Derryn Hinch, are for some reason exempt from this. WA communities are not even worth speaking to—let that sink in. These politicians do not believe it's worth their time to speak to people whose livelihoods they want to destroy.

My role, as a Western Australian senator, means I have to represent the people of my state first and foremost. I have personally spoken to a wide range of people on both sides of the issue. Western Australians realise most that changes need to occur. What scares me, however, is that they are not being heard, that nothing is being done and that they're not being treated fairly. If I could do one thing in this debate, it would be to give a voice to those who are ignored by the elites. This is why I urge the crossbench not to consider any bill that ignores the people and communities directly affected by it, nor leave any loophole for the mistreatment of animals. I also invite my fellow senators to come out west and speak to some of the people whose lives they intend to affect.