Monday, 3 June 2013
Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2013; Second Reading
I give my thanks to my learned friend opposite, the member for Braddon, for announcing the government's very intelligent view in opposing this bill, the Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2013. We in this place have to ask ourselves what the motivation is behind this particular bill being introduced. I am firmly of the view that the single reason for the introduction of this bill is, as they confess in part, to stamp out live export. But the stamping out of live export has serious ramifications. Anyone in this nation who has any awareness about the Northern aspects of this country understands that, with pastoral land, there is only one product that can be produced these days under the pastoral regulation act, and that is Bos indicus cattle for live export.
There are fanciful individuals who believe that we can install an abattoir, or a number of, across Northern Australia and slaughter, box and export boxed beef to places like the Middle East and Indonesia, but it is pure fantasy. We have a tiny proportion of those end customers, those end consumers, of those product that have refrigeration in their homes. Anyone who has seen frozen beef thawed out in a tropical situation without refrigeration would realise that the product becomes almost inedible in a very short period of time and that wet markets and local slaughter is the only solution.
So let's get away from this fanciful idea that the motivation might be for humane slaughter in Australian abattoirs. Let's get away from the idea that we can convince somebody that they ought to change their culture or their eating habits or suddenly install refrigeration across the Middle East and Indonesia. It is not going to happen. So, unless we want to certify the shutting down of a third of Australia's land mass and prevent the production of cattle, we need to put both feet on the ground and think with level heads about the future of a third of Australia.
The reality is that we have right now a combination of two dreadful situations. We have the disastrous decision two years ago that our relationship with Indonesia would be trashed, that we would take a political move that said to our Indonesian neighbours, 'We hold you to siege because we are offended by what has occurred in two of your abattoirs.' There was no logic to that kneejerk reaction of shutting down the export. If the motivation was to prevent cruelty to animals, what of the thousands of head of cattle that were in yards with no feed? If the idea of shutting down live export is to improve the living rate and reduce the death rate of animals, why would you not put them on a boat with feed and water and shelter rather than have them starve in paddocks?
That is what is happening today. We have the situation where the return on a beast in a market in Queensland is currently worth less than the freight to get the beast to market—therefore they are being left on country. The country is being stripped of available feed. We have a drought situation where we have no hope in the very near future of rain and subsequent feed. We have a second year's drop of calves now that ought to be viewing sale within eight to 10 months to those middle-eastern markets. That market has been trashed by the unmitigated circumstances that we have presented to Indonesia. The market has no hope of recovering in the short term—and yet we still have propositions being put forward that say we need another nail in the coffin of beef producers. It is inexcusable.
There is no rational thought behind this except of winning votes in metropolitan areas with a green view and appealing to green voters. They are people who probably believe that animals should not be eaten in the first place and that somehow, if they are to be eaten, maybe they voluntarily anaesthetise themselves and suicide to give us meats for consideration. (Time expired)