Free vote needed for Bill on live sheep export ban

Free vote needed for Bill on live sheep export ban

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie wants to bring back legislation to phase out long-haul live sheep exports, and she has called on the Prime Minister to allow a “free vote” on the contentious issue.

Rebekha’s call comes after a Government Review into the industry found widespread failures within the Department of Agriculture to regulate live animal exports.

“I welcome the recommendations in the independent review conducted by public sector integrity expert Phillip Moss as released yesterday, however, I don’t believe they go far enough to address community concerns about long-haul live sheep exports,” Rebekha said.

“Centre Alliance maintains the view that long-haul live sheep exports need to be phased out, a position that will not only improve animal welfare and the Australian economy but will mean more jobs across Australia and in Mayo.

“There’s no future for long-haul live sheep exports – not when the alternative, building up our meat processing industry in Australia, is the right way forward.”

In the final sitting weeks of the year, Rebekha will lodge a Private Member’s Bill that will echo the legislation previously introduced by the Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley. That legislation has now lapsed.

A similar Bill was introduced to the Lower House from the Senate in September but supporters didn’t have the numbers to bring the legislation on for debate.

You can read Rebekha’s speech on that Bill here.

Sussan Ley, now an Assistant Minister in the Scott Morrison Government, voted against the motion to suspend standing orders to allow debate.

“That Bill was a hard-fought compromise that sought to phase out long-haul live sheep exports over five years to give the industry time to adjust and the meat processing sector the time to scale up operations,” Rebekha said.

“It might not have been the ideal for those who wanted an immediate ban but I believe it was a sensible way forward – until the change in Leadership changed the dynamics of the Lower House.

“Now we have Minority Government and an Australian community that wants action so I call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to allow a conscience vote on this issue so MPs across Australia can truly represent the wishes of their electorates.

“I was shocked and saddened by the media reports and accompanying footage of the abuse of Australian animals occurring on board live export ships to the Middle East.

“The level of concern in my community in Mayo has been enormous and I have been contacted by thousands of residents who were also appalled by evidence that the industry is clearly not meeting existing animal welfare standards.

“We cannot wait for the next scandal. We need to make a stand now. Only a free vote can deliver the result we need.”