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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 120


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (11:53): I am pleased to rise to speak on the Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill 2018. Many on the Labor side of the House have had our names on this bill for quite some time. When it was first tabled in the parliament, we welcomed that we were finally seeing an individual put forward a private member's bill to phase out long-haul live sheep exports.

I have to say, at the beginning of my contribution, that I'm not quite sure whether the member who moved this motion, and her seconder, still wish to proceed. If we take the media reports, it is our understanding that the member for Farrer has actually said she's going to abandon this bill, which would see the orderly phase-out and ban of live sheep exports. The member for Corangamite, who originally seconded this bill, has also said that, given her elevation, she is going to abandon this bill. Those two members need to come into the chamber to clarify their position on this bill that is before us. Are they going to proceed with what they said back on 21 May that they'd do, which is to cross the floor on legislation that would see the phase-out of live sheep exports? Are they going to continue to support their own private member's bill, which is before us and which we are debating right now, that would see the phase-out of live sheep exports?

Labor do support the bill that is before us because we believe that this cruel trade must come to an end. This bill would immediately suspend the trade during the northern summer months, which are between 1 June and 30 September. We are still in the midst of this period. Like many in this place, my inbox has been inundated with emails and letters from people very concerned about the welfare of sheep on long-haul live exports. I will mention a few. I have received over 1,200 individual emails and letters from locals expressing their concern about the treatment of sheep on long-haul live exports. I will read a few words that I have received. Rosemary said:

It's unjustifiable that gentle sheep are 'cooking alive' on export ships.

Another constituent, Terry, said:

I can't actually comprehend that they are still permitting these vessels to go.

…   …   …

Voters have been waiting for political action …

They have called for all of us in this place to support this bill. Paige, who lives in Bendigo, said:

It's also so wrong that sheep could be sent overseas during times of hot weather. It's clear that … heatstress is a terrible way for animals to be treated.

Christina from Elmore said:

The latest heart-breaking expose of the live-export industry shows the horrifying conditions endured by nearly 64,000 sheep sent from Fremantle to the Middle East last August. Approximately 2,400 of those sheep died from heat stress … the deaths of so many …

They want to see our parliament act. Those are just some of the words of people in my electorate who have contacted me to urge me and others in this place to support this bill. It's time that this parliament got on with phasing out live sheep exports. We have said that it should be done in an orderly way over a period of five years, which would give us time to establish new markets for these sheep and would give us time to work with the industry to establish where they could be processed as we convert from the export of live sheep to chilled processing. I have a meatworks in my electorate. When I spoke to them I asked if this could be done, and they said yes. With the right support and with the right industry engagement, this could be achieved.

As I stated at the beginning, the media reports are correct, and both the mover and the seconder of this bill have now declared that they're abandoning their support for this bill. Where are we today? They should come in here and clarify their position.