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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11839

Mr GEORGANAS (8:28 PM) —This certainly is a contentious area. That is, it is contentious in terms of the comparative benefits—employment, income and the production of local jobs in abattoirs for local people—of this particular form of trade versus the costs incurred principally by the animals themselves but also, more broadly, by each and every one of us who wishes to avoid cruelty and the unnecessary suffering of the animals in our care.

As the motion reads, live exports have in the past and continue to represent a substantial portion of our nation’s primary production and contributions, not only to our economy but also to the lives of thousands of hardworking Australians. The live sheep export industry is subject to ongoing scrutiny by animal welfare groups, the RSPCA among them, which have been deeply concerned by the conditions exported livestock have had to endure in transit, generally for weeks at a time, prior to being received by the trading country. Overcrowded pens aboard ships, lack of clean water and food, outbreak of disease, heat exhaustion, change in feed and a reluctance to feed, dehydration, starvation and a pretty miserable, prolonged death in transit: these are some of the concerns that have been raised for decades by those arguably most concerned with the welfare and the avoidance of suffering of the livestock exported.

The number of live cattle exported throughout this decade has averaged around 700,000 head per year. The number of live sheep exported through the same period has averaged around 4½ million head per year, down from approximately six million head per year through most of the 1980s and 1990s. Some opposition to livestock export has focused on the mortality rates of livestock in transit as a representation of the adverse conditions animals experience and perhaps manage to endure while being cooped up in transit. Mortality rates early this decade averaged around 0.2 per cent of beef cattle. That is two cows per 1,000 exported.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. DGH Adams)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.