Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 21 August 1985
Page: 116

Senator BROWNHILL(5.50) —I think the explanation given by Senator Georges is accepted by me. But I would like to make a few points about about the live sheep export trade because it is of such importance to Australia as over seven million sheep are sold annually and it brings something like $200m of income from overseas. I think the worry, dismay and concern of the people in that industry that were caused by the misreporting, as the honourable senator has just told us it was, should be noted. This is important not only to the committee system of the Senate, which I think works admirably and which is of such importance to the people of Australia; it is equally important how statements which are put in the Press are interpreted by people in that live sheep export trade. I think journalists must be aware of the economic consequences of their over-zealous desires and at times the lack of alternative angles for a story. That aspect worries me. Because of the concern this matter caused Senator Scott, who was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare, I will quote from the Press release he put out on 15 August which stated:

. . . today he very much regretted the confusion brought about by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator George Georges, when he expressed a personal view on the phasing out and specified time interval of the live sheep export trade.

`Such a determination was not the Committee's,' former Senator Scott said.

`On the contrary, the Committee observed the very significant progress in the research, development and facility of the trade, acknowledged its very great economic significance and saw no way in which it should be aboloished in the foreseeable future.

`The Committee agreed that if alternative markets ultimately were found, of equal or greater value to the Australian sheep industry and all those who depend on it, then of course a change of emphasis may appear.

`It is regrettable that such distortion was created from a personal opinion of the Chairman, and not an opinion endorsed by the Committee as a whole.'

As I said, I accept Senator Georges's statement that what he said was completely misrepresented by the Press.

The point about the report to which I would like to refer is the fact that the Committee said that maybe at a future time we could sell chilled mutton to the Middle East. Of course, this is not really the desire of the people in the Middle East who buy that mutton. If that happened I think that trade would fall away dramatically. Religious personal preferences currently preclude that happening. Therefore, I think we must ensure that we have as efficient and humane a trade as possible. I was not a part of this Committee, but I believe that the people who served on it have come up with a finding, on behalf of the live sheep export trade, that is suitable to all people within that trade. I have already said that industry changes should be made in some areas and those changes are actually happening at the moment in relation to the handling, feeding and housing of sheep. But, of course, this does not preclude the improvements that will be made in the future because of this report to the Senate. I say again that I hope that in the future reports which are given to the Senate do not cause as much worry and dismay to the people in an industry which is being investigated, as the misreporting of this report caused earlier in the piece.