House debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Constituency Statements

Live Animal Exports

4:48 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to update the House on a movement that a group of my constituents have put together to defend the live export trade, which is so critical to my electorate and the people who live and work in my electorate. Just to remind the House: last year we had some very disturbing footage that was shot by a whistleblower on a boat called Awassi Express. That particular voyage took place in August 2017. The consequence of that video footage coming to light was an investigation by the regulator, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which led to the suspension of the licence of Emanuel Exports, who had previously exported around 80 per cent of the live sheep out of Australia—and, of course, a massive percentage of those sheep would have come out of my electorate.

To update the House, since the new licence holder, RETWA, began voyages in November, we've seen five trips to the Middle East. That's around 350,000 sheep—so well down on an annual shipment of around 1.8 million. The results of those voyages have been outstanding. There hasn't been one voyage where the mortality has been over 0.3 per cent, which is around 200 sheep on a boatload of 70,000 plus. As a lifelong farmer myself, that would be a record that most farmers would be pretty happy with if they had those sheep in a paddock. So we've had good results from the exporters in the voyages that have taken place since the resumption of the trade.

The exporters are trying very hard to be much more transparent. They've invited guests to come and watch the loading of the boat and to see the procedures that make sure those sheep are in the absolute best of hands. I was there last Tuesday. A Channel 9 film crew were there and they subsequently put a story to air. Other journalists were there as well—I know that there have been print journalists—and many politicians, including my colleagues, the member for Petrie and the member Hinkler, who travelled to Western Australia a couple of weeks ago to view the loading of the ship and how the sheep were handled and to give themselves some comfort that the industry is worthy of support. Emanuel Exports have appointed an animal welfare compliance officer, Holly Ludeman. Holly is a young vet, and her responsibility is to make sure that the welfare of those sheep is of the highest standard.

I want to touch very briefly on the Sheep Collective, a group of industry organisations, such as the Shearing Industry Association and the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, and farmer groups. I welcome to the House today Bindi Murray, who is a great friend of mine from Woodanilling. Bindi is a young farmer, with three kids. She caught the midnight express over here and today she's presenting to people around the House, and I welcome Bindi here today.