Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Live Animal Exports
That the Senate—
(i) the recent suspension of Emanuel Exports export licence by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which is an appropriate response to the company's alleged breach of its animal welfare obligations, and
(ii) that, while it is the responsibility of each exporter to ensure it meets these obligations, remedial action should not unnecessarily punish producers; and
(b) calls on the government to:
(i) ensure that the West Australian farmers contracted to Emanuel Exports are compensated during the investigation process,
(ii) in the event Emanuel Exports is found to have breached its animal welfare obligations, urge the company to compensate farmers for their economic loss,
(iii) support the development of abattoirs throughout Australia, and
(iv) provide certainty for the future of Australian sheep producers by legislating for an orderly phase-out of the sheep live export trade.
It is inappropriate for the Senate to express a view on an ongoing investigation by an independent regulator. Exporters are responsible for ensuring they meet the animal welfare requirements under Commonwealth and state law. Options and next steps for the sheep and the farmers contracted to the company are a matter for the company concerned. The Australian government provides a range of assistant measures to Western Australian farmers and farm businesses experiencing hardship, including farm household allowance to eligible farmers, access to rural financial counselling, and social and community support. The coalition government supports a sustainable live sheep trade which has regard to animal welfare outcomes and recognises the positive economic contribution that it and the red meat industry deliver to the nation, to local communities and to rural families at the farm gate. The export of livestock overseas increases livestock prices across the entire Australian red meat industry and increases returns to livestock producers and their communities.
I'm glad that Senator Hinch is following my lead to support farmers because their voice in this whole live export issue has been ignored. Farmers in my home state of Western Australia supply the vast majority of this country's live export market. The issue is more important for Western Australia than any other state. Yes, we all agree the treatment of Australian animals on the Awassi Express was disgraceful and that changes need to be made. However, we cannot hang our farmers out to dry with knee-jerk reactions and rushing through policies based on a motion. No-one has convinced me yet we have a viable plan for our farmers once a ban is introduced. Pauline Hanson's One Nation will not support any legislation to phase out live export trade until we are convinced it is in the best interests of our farmers.
The live sheep export trade is in crisis. Of two export companies, one has been suspended, one has suspended itself. It's estimated two-thirds of the sheep usually exported in this year will not now be exported.
The government needs to step in. Transition packages are needed. About six per cent of the sheep in this country usually are exported. Something needs to happen. Transition packages are needed for farmers to provide assistance, but they're also needed to ensure that workers are trained adequately and that the infrastructure is in place. We urge the government to work with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, which has been giving attention to this issue for a long time, and ensure that local TAFEs are well equipped to provide the training so that the workforce is there and so that it can bring a jobs boost, an economic boost, to regional areas. It's time we ended the mass cruelty, expanded local jobs and assisted our economy by transitioning away from the live export trade. (Time expired)
On live exports, no-one wants to see the animals suffering as they do, but the facts are that 14½ million sheep have been transported by that company, of which 0.67 per cent died on the journey. That means that 99.3 per cent survived. I'd just suggest that that's about what you'd expect to lose in the paddock; it's no greater than you'd normally lose. And, with respect, there are cruise companies going around the world that might have a higher mortality rate.