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Federal Politics

05 Jun 2018

Stop live exports

The live export trade of sheep from Australia is cruel. It is unsustainable. Yet in mid-May Malcom Turnbull and his government have once again supported it and endorsed it.

Naturally, there has been a huge upsurge in public opinion revolted by the mistreatment of animals shown in the live animal export trade. 60 Minutes aired footage supplied by an industry whistleblower forcing Liberal National Party Minister Littleproud to call an investigation chaired by Mr McCarthy. 

The Labor opposition has long been a critic of this industry and have demanded higher standards. Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon has spearheaded discussions with the relevant industry players, offered a bipartisan hand to work with the government for better animal welfare outcomes and Labor has reached its policy position based on those discussions and industry advice.

But the big news is, under a Labor government the live export of sheep from Australian shores will be phased out.

Discussing the decision for the phase out, Labor’s spokesperson on live export Joel Fitzgibbon explained: “While disappointing, it’s not surprising these incidents continue to occur. Senior members of the Turnbull government constantly provide unqualified support to the industry. The National Party cheer squad approach breeds a culture of complacency and risk.”

“Labor has been clear from the start that we don’t think the inquiry into the live sheep trade during the northern summer will find that the trade is sustainable in the long-term.”

Fitzgibbon’s ruling out of continuing live sheep exports reflects Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s views: “… the industry has had plenty of chances to clean up its act, and it’s failed. The government has had plenty of chances to properly regulate, and it’s failed.”

 After the Liberals’ recently-released the first part of their ongoing and lengthy McCarthy review into the live sheep export trade, I was pleased the opposition said the recommendations did not go far enough. The review has highlighted serious animal welfare concerns.

The Turnbull government’s response to this review has been inadequate.

As the Australian Veterinary Association and the RSPCA advised in response to the review and the footage aired by 60 Minutes, there is simply no way the live sheep trade should continue during the northern hemisphere summer.

Nevertheless, the Turnbull Liberal Nationals have chosen to support this cruel industry and continue to allow the live export of sheep despite its record of breaching existing codes of behaviour.

The bottom line is Turnbull and Littleproud will allow the live export of sheep, even in the hottest season and to the hottest part of the world.

It is my view, and Labor’s, that the summer sheep live export trade should immediately cease. There is a sharp difference on this issue between the Labor Party and Liberal National government. Joel Fitzgibbon has announced that, if elected, a Labor government will cease the northern summer sheep trade at the first opportunity.

Labor has also pledged to phase out the balance of the live sheep export trade over time and impose the higher regulatory standards during that transition period.

However, Labor is committed to working with the meat export industry to plan for a future that doesn’t rely on live sheep exports and the miseries they have suffered. The images we all witnessed demand that we start this transition now.

Like every compassionate and rational Australian, I abhor cruelty to animals and I will continue to promote animal welfare policies and programs in Parliament.

Be reassured there will be a change of policy if there is a change of government.

I thank the community for its continued support.

Michael Danby

Federal Member - Melbourne Ports

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