Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Resolutions of the Senate
Live Animal Exports; Consideration of Senate Message
I move, as an amendment:
That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
"the message be considered immediately".
How come in every other industry we say 'value add'? We say, 'Do everything you can to make the product as valuable as you can in Australia before export,' but not this industry. We say to the live export industry: 'It's fine, send the sheep over there. We don't care.' The 60 Minutes report left Australians aghast and disgusted, and initially the minister for agriculture was horrified, but now we have moved away. We have had eight months and people in this place think that this matter has gone away. Let me tell you, for my community this matter has not gone away. For the Australian community this matter has not gone away.
We have the opportunity here to be on the front foot, to follow the lead of New Zealand—albeit 20 years behind New Zealand—to value add and to process here and, over five years, to phase out live sheep export. We know that this is a declining industry. We know that this is an industry that the rest of the world is moving away from. I cannot for the life of me understand why we are holding on to this.
We should be processing all of our animals here onshore in Australia. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow jobs in regional Australia. My electorate has one large abattoir, being Thomas Foods International at Lobethal. They run two shifts. I have talked to Thomas foods about this. They would, obviously, like to grow their business and run a third shift.
At Murray Bridge, just outside of my electorate, Thomas foods has another abattoir. We have a disused abattoir at Normanville. Just $6 million is all that's needed to get that abattoir up and running. These are the best jobs in regional Australia, from the perspective of permanency and a good wage. We should be encouraging the production of our long-haul sheep in Australia. We should not be sending these animals, who have no say, out on to those huge, hulking vessels. We know that the mortality rates with these long-haul trips are very high. We can't control that. We know that there has been a culture within the department of fear and of not sharing information and, quite frankly, I don't think that we can trust this industry to manage itself. We need to transition away from this industry and actually look at this as an opportunity for our industry, for sheep, for farmers and for people living in regional Australia to have good quality jobs. Thank you.