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Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Page: 3391


Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (12:43): The Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Bill 2019 is an indication of the work that Minister Littleproud has put together. From the moment that these allegations were aired on 60 Minutes he knew, right at the start, that we had to clamp down on any bad behaviour, and he's set in place a process to do that, holding each of the transport companies responsible for any of this work.

What has recently come to mind now, though, is the fact that the people who were charged with getting hold of the footage were in fact paid. They are people who should have been looking after the sheep and were being paid to sensationalise the problems associated with live sheep exports. It certainly seems that some crimes were committed in the gathering of the evidence that the media used to blow this situation open.

Minister Littleproud has been strong all the way through—that, unless we put strong safeguards and strong regulation around this industry, then people like the Labor Party will move to ban it when they get a chance. It was already policy last year. They moved many, many motions in this House to ban live sheep export. We have some members of the Labor Party standing in this parliament pretending that they are in support of live export markets. We have others coming up here saying, 'We have to be careful that we haven't put abattoir workers out of a job by taking these live animals overseas.' Most abattoirs in Australia are operating on about 60 per cent capacity right now—maybe 70 per cent capacity. The reason is that Australians don't want to work in abattoirs. That's simply the case. So the concept that, by moving some of the very small market overseas, we had something to do with people in the abattoir industry losing their job is just a furphy. It just didn't happen.

But there's no doubt that the ban on live cattle had a drastic impact on the price of cattle, and there is no doubt that, if we do the same with sheep, especially the sheep that we are talking about—we're not talking about young, fat lambs; we're talking about sheep at the end of their life who have a much higher value in the Middle East than they do here in Australia. What we need to do is support this industry. In politics, you can't half support something. You have to be in there to support it and put some strict regulations around it or you have to get out and oppose it. But the Labor Party think that they can be all things to all people—'We don't like this and we don't like that;' 'We want to ban it, but we don't want to ban it;' 'We think we should ban it, but we probably won't.' All the members get up and talk about a load of nothing.

The coalition is strong in its support for live sheep export and live cattle export. We need to make sure that we look after the husbandry of those animals when they're on the ships. That's what the inspector-general will do: make sure that the live sheep exports and the live animal exports into the future are done in a humane way—in a way that is going to be atop any of the other animal husbandry practices around the world—and make sure that, as the member for Kennedy was saying, where overseas abattoirs need assistance with their practices, they are given that assistance, whether that is engineering assistance or practical assistance.

All we can really judge our political parties on is their history—what they've actually done. What the Labor Party did with live cattle had an absolutely detrimental effect. It had a horrible effect on the cattle industry here in Australia. What they intend to do with live sheep will be exactly the same. It will take away a modest amount of money from thousands of farmers around Australia. That's something that doesn't seem to faze the Labor Party, because they effectively want to appease their Green voters in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney.

There is no doubt that some laws have been broken with the gathering of the vision. People have been paid to make a tough situation horrendous—to make sure that they created a shocking piece of video. The worse they could possibly make it the better it was going to be for the television. The underhanded way in which this scenario has been captured on video is horrendous. It would sicken most Australians to think that the person who was supposedly blowing the whistle on this poor behaviour, this malpractice, the person who was going to bring everything to light, was the person creating the animal cruelty. People have to live with their consciences.

We need to give the industry every opportunity to operate in a way that most Australians can accept—'Yes, I see this plays a really important part for a whole raft of Australians.' We need to make sure we support that industry and those hardworking Australians. We want to see them get the best results that they can for their produce. If that's in Australia, great. If it's overseas, great. Don't come into this House and say that the live sheep trade is taking away Australian abattoir jobs. That just shows that you have no understanding of the abattoir workforce at the moment. We need to support this industry because it supports Australian families.