Parliament delays chance to phase out live sheep exports

Parliament delays chance to phase out live sheep exports

The Federal Parliament has missed the chance to phase out long-haul live sheep exports in a "measured" way this year, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

Rebekha’s comments come as the House of Representatives today voted down a Senate motion, instigated by Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick, calling on the Government to legislate a ban long-haul live sheep exports.

“It’s been eight months since those awful images of dead and dying sheep on a live export ship were broadcast by the 60 Minutes program and nothing substantive has been done by this Government except a review into their own inept regulatory system,” Rebekha said.

“The Australian people expect this issue to be dealt with properly by this place.

“The Australian Livestock Exporters' Council’s recent self-imposed three-month moratorium on shipments during the Northern Hemisphere summer is just delaying the inevitable transition away from long-haul sheep exports to the Middle East.

“With two days left of Parliament this year we had a chance to debate the issue, the opportunity to have a vote on my Private Member’s Bill to resolve this issue, and this Government chose to kick the can down the road and put it off until next year.

“The way this Government is travelling they may not have the time to deal with my Bill next year and they face the very real risk of dealing with another piece of legislation, a less measured and reasonable piece of legislation that could well be voted on my a very different looking Parliament.

“We have a chance to value-add to our sheep industry, to build up our meat processing industry and create jobs in regional Australia and we should be acting now to introduce a sensible transition process that supports our farmers.”

Rebekha’s Animal Export Legislation Amendment (Ending Long-haul Live Sheep Exports) Bill 2018 was introduced on Monday and mirrors the compromise Private Member’s Bill first introduced by the Liberal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley earlier this year.

It proposes a five-year transition plan to phase out the industry, assist sheep farmers and build up the meat processing sector in Australia.

A version of that Bill was blocked by the new Morrison Government in September when Ms Ley, now an Assistant Minister, and other Coalition MPs (publicly supportive of the ban in the past) voted against the legislation when it came down from the Senate.

“Long-haul live sheep exports account for only six per cent of our sheep and lamb off-take, and is supported predominantly by rapidly unwinding subsidies from Middle Eastern Governments,” Rebekha said.

“Ninety-nine per cent of consumers in the Gulf have refrigeration and every Middle Eastern country accepts Australian halal slaughter.

“My Bill should not be perceived as a threat, but as the impetus and opportunity to develop a supporting package of measures that help that six per cent transition away from long-haul live sheep export, and to support jobs, farmers, and humanely regulated abattoirs in Australia.

“The opportunities for reinvigorated and Australian standard abattoirs in my own electorate of Mayo, such as the current potential in Normanville, can be mirrored in Western Australia and elsewhere.”