Monday, 20 June 2011
Live Animal Exports
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Kennedy from moving the following motion—That this House:
(1) note the impact of the live animal export suspension on Northern Australia, the whole cattle industry and all those associated with it and directs the Government within two weeks to:
(a) deploy 10 Australian officials to Indonesia;
(b) direct these officials, along with Indonesia Government appointees, to immediately implement an upgrading of Indonesian abattoirs to meet humane standards currently met in Australia; and
(c) instruct Indonesian meatworkers on how to process to humane standards currently met in Australia;
(2) directs the Government to ship to Indonesia 60 stun guns with knocking boxes and video cameras within seven days, and to provide appropriate training;
(3) directs the Government as a matter of urgency to:
(a) immediately accredit Indonesia abattoirs that already meet Australian standards;
(b) begin accrediting Indonesian abattoirs that have been newly upgraded to meet humane standards currently met in Australia;
(c) implement supply chain traceability and auditing systems; and
(d) implement independent monitoring of conditions in Indonesian abattoirs;
(4) once the conditions in clause 3 are satisfied, calls on the Government to immediately ensure the resumption of trade with accredited Indonesian abattoirs that meet humane standards currently met in Australia; and
(5) directs the Federal Government to immediately commence an inquiry into the circumstances leading up to the Minister for Agriculture’s decision to suspend the live cattle export trade to Indonesia and that this inquiry include Meat and Livestock Australia and all other related instrumentalities and departmental division.
The government keeps assuring me that it is addressing this problem and acting to overcome it and ensure that we get a positive outcome. The government is saying, 'Trust me.' It appears that people have been told that now for nine years. I am sorry, we are not prepared to trust anyone. If you really want us to trust you, then you should be voting for this motion. Is there a single person in this parliament that believes that 60 stun-guns should not be on their way to Indonesia now? They should have been sent a week ago. On this side of the House, everyone would agree with that. Why won't the government support the motion? If you have got something to fear, then the people of Australia have something to fear. But, if you do not have anything to fear, then why not do this? It is very simple.
I must stress the urgency of the motion because, from Thursday of last week when we lost this motion until now, thousands of cattle have been cruelly killed. It is not the fault of the people that voted for this—the people on this side of the House. This side of the House, and I refer to the opposition, have got plenty to answer for. They knew about this for six years and did nothing about it. But give them their due: they are doing something about it now. We applaud them for doing that. I cannot see any reason why the government would not agree to this. They are being told stories by the MLA, but the real story here is that the MLA and the departmental officials that are responsible for this are doing a big con act. 'Oh, this is very complicated,' they say. It ain't complicated—you send the cattle up there to Jakarta, you put them in the back of a hired utility and you say, 'Hey fellas, we've got some ratbags back in Australia we've got to make happy; would you please do it this way?' You have to put it that way. Since it is a hell of a lot easier to do it with a stun-gun than the way they are doing it at present, I am sure they would be more than happy to agree. But do not let anyone stand up and have the hypocrisy to say that they are against cruelty when they are defending the continuation of the killing of cattle in this inhumane manner.
That is the situation. If you are seriously worried about animal welfare, then stop it—this motion stops it. It forces the government to do something, instead of listening to the people who are responsible for this situation and are now advising the government that they have it all under control. The government is accepting that. The government has got to realise that, while it might be accepting it, the voting public are not accepting it. The voting public are listening to the things that I am saying in here because they know that they are true. They know that nothing has been done by this government to ensure that a single ox is killed humanely in Indonesia—nothing. The same people are giving out the same stories that they have given out for nine years. If the stun-guns do not get up there in the next two or three weeks, then if I was a betting man I would bet that Indonesia will bring in cattle from Brazil. The minute they start to do that we will be finished—we will never get back in there again.
Someone mentioned foot-and-mouth disease. Indonesia is provisionally a free country and most of Brazil is provisionally free, so they do not run into that problem. There are those of us who argue that there are parts of Indonesia—with its 1,000 islands—that are not provisionally free, but we will not go into that today. My colleague the honourable member for Denison does not have the same view as I do about the foreseeable future, but he absolutely believes that cattle should not be cruelly killed and every day that goes by more and more of them will be killed.
The government is saying, 'Trust me.' It is listening to people working for the MLA and people working for the government that are saying, 'We have got it under control; we are addressing it.' That is the story we have been told for the last nine years. The honourable member for Denison and I thank very much the opposition, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, for taking a strong stand on this in spite of the fact that there is a downside for them insofar as criticism for the past will be sheeted home to them. But forget about the past. Let us look to the future; let us do something about it.
We cannot get any information, so we do not know how many cattle are in the pipeline. I am told it is in the tens of thousands. Someone told me 30,000; another person told me it might be nearer 100,000. One of the mayors in my own area said that a number of cattlemen are now on suicide-watch. This place just does not seem to care how many farmers commit suicide in this country. I have said again and again no-one cares about a farmer committing suicide every four days in this country. Not one single thing that I can think of has been done to allay that figure, except sending counsellors out. My experience with counsellors—God bless them; I love them—is that I really appreciate the work that they are doing but they are almost irrelevant to the problem. That has been my experience with counselling, and I do not mean to speak badly about counsellors. But I am told by one of my mayors, who is down here for the conference today and who came to see me, that the police have rung up to officially inform him that we have a number of graziers on suicide watch at this moment.
So the government says, 'Trust me.' That is what is being said here: 'Trust me.' That is the answer to the problem! Has one single stun-gun, video camera or knocking box left Australia? No. We know that for an absolute fact and we are into the first fortnight. If they say they care about the ox, I am sorry but you have lost that argument. We already know you do not care because you have not sent a single stun-gun up there. If you cared, you would have been sending stun-guns up there the next day. But you do not care, as evidenced here again today. So we are giving very specific directions. From the point of view of the member for Denison, this will hold the line until he goes to what he believes is the right thing to do, which is cutting off the export trade. I would disagree with that, of course— (Time expired)
I second the motion moved by the member for Kennedy, which is entirely consistent with that part of my private member's bill which calls for the immediate and urgent implementation of safeguards in Indonesia so the resumption of our live animal export and trade with that country can occur straightaway. I will speak more to this issue tonight when I table that bill.
I rise to speak against this suspension of standing orders, as occurred last Thursday. The member for Kennedy and the member for Denison are two members of this chamber I have a great deal of respect for. I respectfully submit to the member for Kennedy that the clear procedures set out by this parliament to facilitate private members' business being dealt with are greater than any that have ever been made in the history of this parliament. The fact of the matter is that we will enable and facilitate private members' discussions this evening. They are all on motions or bills that have been put forward in accordance with the procedures that have been worked out. Everyone has the same level playing field and the same ways of operating in this matter.
The truth is that, in doing this, the government want to be consistent. We are ensuring that everyone knows what the procedures are. You put a motion on notice or you give notice of an intention to present a bill. It is then considered by the Selection Committee and it is dealt with on the next occasion. In the normal proceedings that would be on the following Monday evening. We then have a debate. If there is a need for further discussion then that occurs. It is then listed for a vote in accordance with the procedures of the Selection Committee in a way in which everyone knows the outcome. We have, since 2007, operated in a way that has facilitated business before this parliament being dealt with. When the government introduces legislation, it comes into this parliament and gives notice. We then have a second reading speech. Debate is then suspended after the second reading speech and the legislation is then able to be considered by the parliament in the next week.
If it is the case that people can come into this parliament and move a suspension of standing orders or something that they have not given notice of, then we will simply not be able to facilitate the proper consideration of either legislation or motions which are moved by members of this parliament. The fact is that we have had a range of suspensions moved. We barely get through a day of this parliament without a suspension of standing orders being moved by those opposite.
Some of the members opposite speak about our priorities. We heard that from the shadow finance minister, who could not actually call a division on the budget bills he was opposing. We heard from the shadow finance minister that he wants to change the determinations on the processes for the consideration of budget bills.
Opposition members interjecting—
Those processes were determined unanimously by this House. It is quite extraordinary. The suspensions of standing orders have already cost this parliament the consideration of 124 questions. The fact is that the suspensions moved by those opposite, when the Leader of the Opposition has suspended 46 per cent of question times, and at the end of last week the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Kennedy moved suspensions of standing orders—
If you were here for more than five minutes, you might know that I am speaking to the suspension of standing orders. I am actually speaking to the motion, which is about the procedures of this House. The motion is not about the substance of the motion that the member for Kennedy is seeking to move; the motion is about the suspension of standing orders. I read in today's paper that we were going to have a bill considered in this House at 10 am this morning. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition came into the chamber at 10 am, but if he did he would have been the only one who was here. He shows no attention to the detail. That is the problem of those opposite: no attention to detail. All they want to do is come before this parliament and complain, say what they oppose but not say what they are for, like the walking vuvuzelas that they are. Once again we see their opportunism on show for all to see. They have had a different position on live cattle exports every single day throughout the past two weeks. With regard to the issue of plebiscites, I just wonder how a plebiscite would go before the Australian public of all those who support exporting live cattle to Indonesia. I just wonder how that would go, if we are going to go down that sort of road.
Of course, those opposite have never got over their loss in August last year. What we are seeing played out before the Australian public is the longest dummy spit in the history of Australian politics. The fact of the matter is they want to disrupt the parliament at each and every opportunity. It does not matter whether it is Greens motions about asylum seekers or motions from the member for Kennedy or anything else; their one priority is disruption. Do you know who said, 'Disrupting the House is not a sign of a disciplined opposition; disrupting the House is a sign of a desperate opposition'? It was the Leader of the Opposition on 21 June 2006.
Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: for the last two minutes, the Leader of the House has been talking about the opposition, our policies and everything but the substance of the motion. I ask you to draw him to speak to the motion.
I am, Mr Deputy Speaker, because what I am speaking in favour of is orderly proceedings in this House of Representatives, not this disruptive behaviour which the Leader of the Opposition himself said on 21 June 2006 is a sign of a desperate opposition. He went on to say this:
What we have seen from members opposite consistently in the course of this year but particularly over the last few weeks is consistent, deliberate, planned and premeditated conduct to disrupt this House.
That is what the Leader of the Opposition said on 21 June 2006 and there were never wiser words said by the Leader of the Opposition. That is why the government will be opposing this and why the member for Corio will be adding to comments opposing this legislation. The fact of the matter is—
Opposition members interjecting—
We have had two speakers in favour. Now they want to stop two speakers in favour and two speakers against, so determined are the great democrats opposite, so desperate are they. The fact of the matter is that this should not be supported. This should be debated next week. (Time expired)
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: we had a mover of this proposition. We then had a seconder of the proposition. It is normally the case in procedures before this House that we have two speakers in favour and it is important that we have two speakers against.
Opposition members interjecting—
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. House of Representatives practice clearly allows for speakers from either side to be equal. That is the way that we deal with things in this chamber. We had the member for Kennedy put his position. We then had the seconder, the member for Denison, contribute to the debate. We then had me, as the Leader of the House, outline why there should be opposition and now it is important that—
Order! The Leader of the House will resume his seat, as will the Leader of the Opposition. My understanding is that debate alternates from one side to the other. I have already given the call to the Leader of the Opposition, who now has the call.
Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I did try to seek the call before the Leader of the Opposition got to his feet, for good reason: I did not want to interrupt his contribution—
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr Deputy Speaker, on a further point of order: in response to the intervention from the member for Dawson, I hoped that before the opposition leader commenced his address you might invite the members of the opposition to remain quiet while we hear his feigned indignation.
Mr Deputy Speaker, a point of order relating to standing order 62: I was concerned that the member for Paterson was blocking the view of the Leader of the Opposition. According to standing order 62 'Members moving in the chamber':
A Member in the Chamber must:
(a) take his or her seat promptly;
… … …
I ask you to enforce that, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I do thank the Leader of the House for raising that point of order. I have given the call to the Leader of the Opposition. Let me say: if I hear any other points of order which are taken frivolously the members who take those points of order will have an hour in the sin bin.
There are currently 1,900 cattle at Port Hedland in Western Australia. Those cattle are owned by an Australian company and they are going to be exported to an Australian owned and operated abattoir in Indonesia. That abattoir—
Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The time for this debate has expired. The question is that the motion for suspension of standing orders moved by the honourable member for Kennedy be agreed to. I put that question: all those in favour say aye, to the contrary no. I think the noes have it.
Opposition members: The ayes have it.
Order! A division is required. Ring the bells.
The bells being rung—
Opposition members: There was only one no!
I heard more than one no.
That the motion (Mr Katter's) be agreed to.
The House divided. [17:06]
(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)
The requirements for an absolute majority not having been satisfied, the motion was not carried.