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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3287

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (16:09): Here we go again, debating this issue, as we have been doing for many, many years in this place. It seems to pop up every now and again, and it does so because of the regulations that aren't up to standard. It does so because, in the standards that are in place, the bars are placed very low. For too long we've witnessed the mistreatment of animals through the live export trade. It's just not necessary and it should never be acceptable. When we look at nations across the world, we see that New Zealand, for example, has been able to phase out its live export. New Zealand exports more sheep than we do. It manages to have a market, and it does so in a humane way and in a way that doesn't lower its standards by being inhumane to animals. It does it in a way which value-adds to its workforce and the industry and ensures that it has controls on the meat that does leave the country, and it's doing quite well out of it. Only last month, we saw other nations, in South America, planning to go the exact same way.

Opposing live exports has not always been a popular choice in this place. Nevertheless, many of us on this side of the House have stuck with our values and the decision that it is cruel and inhumane and that there should be value-adding to the industry here in this country. I say so because Australia is a humane nation; we are a nation that cares about our animals. It's not just people on this side. Farmers and people involved in the industry don't want to see the horrific images that we've been seeing on our TVs, on 60 Minutes, and in the newspapers. We've been seeing them for far too long.

At the beginning, I spoke about the regulations and the laws that are in place at the moment. We know that the current government, when it was first elected, ignored both industry and animal welfare group warnings of systematic failure. Those warnings have been there for a long time. It delayed the review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock, rejected Labor's commitment to a review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System and—something very significant—abolished Labor's Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports, which would've been able to inspect and ensure that the rules and regulations were being adhered to. It also rejected the proposal from this side for an independent office for animal welfare, which would perhaps have been able to put things in place so that these horrific images wouldn't be on our TVs. The government has also rejected regular ministerial reports to parliament on investigations into reported breaches. It abolished the Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, defunded the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy and abolished the Animal Welfare Unit within the department of agriculture. These are things that were put in place by Labor to try and better the industry. The industry has been given every single opportunity to clean up its act, and it's quite clear from everything that we've seen and everything that we hear on a continuous basis that it isn't doing so.

Labor's decision to phase out live exports is the right decision and the humane decision; it's the decision that will value-add and create jobs here in this nation. It will make sure that the meat that we export is slaughtered in a humane way and that we have total control over it, and, most importantly, it will create jobs here in Australia. We had a great industry in South Australia, in Gepps Cross, where hundreds of people worked in the abattoirs. That's all gone. We had abattoirs all over the country where people worked. They've all gone. This is an industry where we could value-add. We could absolutely ensure that we have control over it and stop the inhumane and cruel things that are taking place that we see in the media on a regular basis. This has to stop. We are a humane nation. We are a nation that cares about our animals. We grow some of the best meat in the world. We have great agriculture. Let's not ruin it all and give ourselves a bad name by what we're exporting at the moment. It's not just the meat—the sheep and the livestock; it's the horrendous situation that workers are under to remove the dead carcasses that we've seen footage of as well. Labor's decision is the right decision. The government should look at phasing it out completely and ensure that we do the right thing. (Time expired)