Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Bill 2019; Second Reading
One Nation is a proud supporter of the live animal export industry. We are proud of our farmers and the diligence they display to produce cattle and sheep and to prepare them for export around the globe. They do a great job in an industry that often throws up unpredictable circumstances. They deal with fluctuating weather, fluctuating prices, the difficult process of planning ahead when they face uncertain future demand, the costs and maintenance of farm machinery and staff, media bias and narrow-minded protests.
Our cattle and sheep are of the highest quality—the best in the world—and they are a vital part of Australia's export regime and our economy generally. They're also part of our national character and the Aussie DNA. A One Nation delegation recently visited a pre-export feedlot for sheep in Western Australia. Our party loves to meet people directly, face to face, to learn about the needs in this country, and the visit to the feedlot was one such visit. The delegation was headed by One Nation member of the Western Australian Legislative Council Colin Tincknell, a great representative of the people of Western Australia, along with our other MLC, Robin Scott. I was due to attend but was unable to due to the flu. The reports that came back to me were very encouraging.
I can say without a doubt that the people who deal with our live sheep exports are meticulous along the entire supply chain to ensure that the animals are well cared for. The animals' needs are met in terms of a well-balanced diet. Their health and comfort needs are met in the holding sheds—the sheds are well ventilated, the animals have access to feed, waste is removed promptly, ventilation is superb, they are sheared if the depth of their wool is more than 20 millimetres, and the parasite requirements of the customer countries are met.
Media reports in the past have suggested that our farmers are somehow heartless when it comes to live animal exports. That is an absurd suggestion that defies logic. Our farmers depend on their land and their herds year in and year out. It is in their best interests to manage their properties wisely, to care very humanely for their animals and to ensure that they do all that they can to maintain the high-quality beasts that Australia is known for.
The visit to the pre-export feedlot helped to further highlight the high level of care and treatment given to sheep to ensure stress is reduced, health is maintained and quality remains high. The visited feedlot can house 84,000 sheep in winter and 95,000 in summer, prior to their export to Israel, Jordan and Turkey, which all have specific health protocols that must be met in order for the sheep to be accepted. Harold Sealy of Livestock Shipping Services, who guided our delegation around the feedlot, outlined how meticulous they are in caring for the sheep. The animals are sorted according to weight, which is monitored entirely throughout the trip to the customer. Sheep are very susceptible to stress and can lose weight very easily, so it's a good indicator of how well they are cared for throughout the process. As Mr Sealy outlined:
They come in from the farm, we put them on the vessel and they arrive at their destination at their original weight or a fraction better; it shows that the animals have travelled well and work has been done to eliminate stress.
International competition from other sheep exporters means that Australian sheep must be of the highest quality to ensure acceptance. It's ordinary supply and demand. Quality products attract the interests of customers, and that's what our Australian farmers give them. As Mr Sealy made clear:
Without us delivering an article to the customer, we don't have an income, so we take great care of our animals, as do our farmers, and it's insulting to say we don't care about our animals.
One of our biggest selling points is we are Australia—we have great biosecurity and we have a very healthy animal, and the health of that animal is one of the reasons they want to have that animal.
We have live sheep and live animal exports because a lot of these countries, such as Indonesia, have large populations. They can't take processed meat, because they don't have refrigeration for it. They need to slaughter on a needs basis to feed the populace. It's quite interesting.
I, like most Australians, do care about the health and wellbeing of the animals and that they are treated fairly. We all saw the report about the mistreatment of sheep on that vessel. That begs the question: was it a set-up to destroy live sheep and cattle exports? I say to the Greens or anyone else who is protesting and wants to stop live exports because of the treatment of the sheep and cattle: let's start looking in our own backyard, at our slaughterhouses and how they slaughter animals here. The RSPCA have complained about this. People are slaughtering cattle in Australia by merely slitting their throats, without stunning them first. If you're really concerned about the wellbeing of these animals and how they are slaughtered, we need to start cleaning up our own backyard and look at how we slaughter animals.
Stopping the export business would be detrimental to a lot of the farming sector. It is a great resource, especially for Western Australia and the Northern Territory. We cannot lose this export business. If we shut it down in any way whatsoever, these countries will go elsewhere looking for the product that they need. It is best to ensure that there is a very, very high standard in the live export of animals from this country, to ensure that we do not lose this income source that we have and to ensure that we protect and look after our farmers whose income is purely based on live exports. We have to get over our emotions with this, let our heads rule our hearts with regard to live exports and ensure that we get it right and are known for our good quality. We can do that. We have done it. It is happening. I will not stand back and see our farming sector ridiculed and criticised, when people are doing the right thing. This is purely based on emotion, people wanting to shut down our live exports.