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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 121


Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (12:00): I rise to speak on the Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill 2018. Like most of Australia I have been shocked at the vision we have seen over the past few months. I know that every Australian agricultural producer would be equally shocked at these scenes of cruelty. We understand that. It is time for this cruelty to be stopped. It is time for us to support the industry to transition. Thankfully live sheep exports have been in decline for many decades. We need to support our sheep farmers to make sure they're sustainably profitable and to create more jobs in Australia.

I was brought up in St George in the Balonne Shire out in Western Queensland. The first dollar I earned was working in a shearing shed with the McCoskers at Dundee Station. I know the importance of supporting our farmers and making sure we get the balance right. The major primary industry of the Balonne Shire when I was a kid was the sheep, wool and beef industry. It has now become much more diversified. Things like cotton have taken off. I grew up surrounded by hardworking Australian sheep producers, graziers and shearers. I know how hard they work. I know that welfare for their livestock is always paramount. Sheep Producers Australia in a media release in April this year said:

Producers want best animal welfare outcomes. We want to know the same high standards of animal care are maintained once our sheep leave our properties. We are pleased that the livestock export industry is moving to make changes and we look forward to the trade's animal welfare outcomes being improved in future.

Supporting the sheep industry to transition from live exports will not only ensure the welfare of our livestock but also produce more Australian jobs. I am the son of a butcher, two of my brothers were butchers, my grandfather was a butcher and my uncle was a butcher, so for me, supporting the transition away from live exports will mean more jobs in Australia, with the meat producers having more to do with the slaughter of animals. Treating our animals properly and keeping jobs in Australia are things I care passionately about, and I'm sure most Australians would support them.

We shouldn't back this just when it is politically convenient; we need to back this piece of legislation because it is the right thing to do. This bill was introduced by the member for Farrer and seconded by the member for Corangamite. The member for Farrer has been firm in her support for this bill. In a speech in parliament on 21 May she said that the live sheep export trade was 'built on animal suffering' and:

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

Where are those members now? It would appear that they've sold out their convictions for political promotions. They have put their own political welfare above animal welfare. They have chosen self-interest over doing the right thing by farmers and their livestock. They have abandoned this private member's bill to phase out the live sheep trade and support farmers in that process. They have forgotten the shocking treatment of 60,000 sheep who suffered on board the Awassi Express in the height of the searing Middle Eastern summer. They have forgotten the outrage after the community was confronted with those shocking scenes. I haven't forgotten, and neither have my Labor colleagues.

This problem is not going to solve itself. There are three inherent flaws in the current business model for live sheep exports: first, it's reliant on the wretched Northern Hemisphere summer trade, and there is no way to reconcile appropriate animal welfare standards with that trade; second, the cruel conditions imposed on livestock promote higher payments to sheepmeat producers engaged in that trade and disadvantage domestic processors here in Australia; and third, the community will not tolerate the cruelty inflicted on Australian animals in this live export trade. The reality is that this trade can't continue.

I applaud the member for Farrer for initially introducing this bill. It is important that there is an organised transition so that Australian sheep farmers are supported and that markets adjust appropriately. But once again we've seen that members of the coalition, whether they're Liberal or National or Liberal-National, won't stand for anything that gets in the way of their own political ambitions. While the members for Farrer and Corangamite will no doubt be celebrating their promotions to Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, and Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services respectively, this bill will lie abandoned, the convictions that were so strongly advocated just a few short months ago quickly tossed aside. We need to make sure we get the balance right. We need to look after Australian jobs, and to do that we need our sheep to be slaughtered in Australia appropriately under Australian conditions.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): There being no further speakers on this bill, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.