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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11836

Mr HAASE (8:12 PM) —I rise this evening to encourage support for this motion tabled in my name. I tabled this motion in October after I had been approached by a number of constituents in my vast electorate of Kalgoorlie to protect jobs in my electorate. The concern of my constituents is that there is a steady stream of misguided information and bigotry coming from the RSPCA and PETA organisations’ propaganda machines that impact directly on farmers and pastoralists in my patch, and of course Australia-wide in relation to the export of livestock. Many Australian stakeholders supporting the live export industry have similar ideologies to those that oppose it—both value the need for acceptable welfare standards. All producers have an interest in selling a beast in the very best of condition.

Under the Howard government, conditions on transport vessels improved. They are equal to or, in some cases, better than those in livestock production scenarios in Australia—fully shaded, clear water and cool air provided. We are now regarded as a world leader in welfare standards for livestock export. We raised the level of awareness worldwide for animal welfare standards. Live export is governed by the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock—the ASEL—and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Now for some facts: the Australian livestock export industry equals $1.8 billion per annum; it employs 13,000 Australians nationally; Australian livestock export pays $987 million in wages and salaries per annum; Western Australian livestock export is worth $471 million per annum; and cattle from the north-west alone is worth $87 million a year and employs 1,045 people. There is no economically viable alternative market for remote pastoral leases product, and they currently export out of Derby, Wyndham, Broome and Port Hedland.

The high cost of transport to abattoirs in the south of the state is restrictive. And of course you need to consider that pastoralists, contrary to the view held by the RSPCA, do not have the luxury option of planting crops. The industry underpins economic and social wellbeing in large slices of Western Australia. The live trade contributes to Australia’s social responsibility for food security in export markets and jobs in importing countries.

There are three clear market sectors for meat—frozen, chilled and fresh—and all present a strong and unique selling point in their particular niche. The Australian meat processing industry has been in long-term decline due to overcapacity and inefficient plants, plus difficulties in industrial relations and slow growth in domestic demand for meat. The RSPCA believe that live exports should be replaced with chilled and frozen products. This really is an arrogant nonsense when you consider that the wet markets in the importing countries do not have refrigeration. They need to have a wet market where they do killing on site in order to provide the product that their customers want. Those who are not well aware of the drivers in these particular industries should consider that the customer is always right, and they need to have the product presented in a manner that they can consume and store. It is no good selling into a wet market a product that has been frozen. Rule No. 1 in animal husbandry and production is that you sell the product that the market wants and can handle. I have a quote provided by a constituent:

Live export accounts for about 55 per cent of our farm income. Even if we could send carcasses there would be not enough meatworkers or abattoirs in WA to do it. I wish the RSPCA would concentrate their efforts on real cruelty.

Now the RSPCA inspectors will be trained in how to spot suspected cases of child abuse in the backyards of Australian families. Now they are an authority on global warming, claiming that climate change is producing a boom in feral cats in Melbourne’s leafy east. They tried to stop the race that stops a nation, with new whipping laws. They want mulesing ruled out by 2010. Where will it stop? The RSPCA were well respected, staffed by volunteers and supported by donations from the public, with a primary focus on domestic pets. Banishing Australian live exports will ruin my farmers and pastoralists—(Time expired)