Senate debates

Tuesday, 4 December 2018


Live Animal Exports; Order for the Production of Documents

3:04 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to explain why the response to the order for the production of documents No. 1238 relating to live exports has not been provided.

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

I was not made aware of that before this was raised in the chamber. I can take that on notice. I do not have the information on that, given I'm representing the minister involved. I'll come back to the chamber when I have the information.

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to take note of that explanation—or nonexplanation.

Leave granted.

I actually did receive a letter this morning from Minister Canavan, which is a pretty useless piece of paper, which actually says that the requested documents have not been provided within the agreed deadline, but they will be provided as soon as possible. So, here today, the government continues to run interference for the cruel live export industry by failing to release the documents that this Senate demanded last week.

We know that you are just dragging your heels until this parliament finishes for the year, hoping that no-one notices. This is exactly on form for a government and an agriculture minister who cry nothing but crocodile tears for the tortured animals. Just admit it: you don't care. When the gruesome and shocking footage of the 2,400 sheep cooking to death aboard the AwassiExpress was seen, we were promised change. Since then, at every step, the government has walked away from even the few small changes they made. It seems it's back to business as usual. You've rolled over and increased stocking densities to cram sheep into spaces which would not even allow them to lie down or be able to easily access food or water.

You have approved live exports to the Middle East in the northern summer, and you have granted KLTT an export licence. KLTT was the consignee for all five voyages exposed on 60 Minutes this year and, along with Emanuel Exports, had responsibility for the animals on board. Since 2004, KLTT has been responsible for nearly half of the shipments from Australia, where over 1,000 sheep have perished. You say you're implementing some of the modest recommendations of the Moss review but just last week you advertised for a part-time inspector-general—a part-time inspector-general!—and just two additional people to replace the previous 21-person-strong animal welfare branch. This really makes a mockery of the Moss review recommendations. What a joke. How many more chances does this industry get?

The list of deaths and cruelty in the live export industry is very long. What happened aboard the Awassi Express wasn't an accident. It wasn't an exception. This is how the business model operates. In 1980, 40,000 sheep and a crew member died aboard the Farid Fares. In 1966, 67,000 sheep died aboard the Uniceb. In 1999, 800 cattle died on the Temburong. In 2003, 5,500 sheep died on the MV Cormo Express; 4,000 sheep dead aboard the Bader III in 2014; in 2017, 3,000 dead aboard the Al Messilah. And these are just the ones we know about. Just last week, we found out that 9,227 sheep and 3,695 cattle on the MV Bahijah were subject to torturous heat stress for eight straight days, and it is just a matter of time before the next huge mortality event.

There have been more than a dozen reforms, reviews or inquiries since this industry started, and still the cruelty continues. Let's not pretend that the industry hasn't seen this coming. Over the weekend there was a very interesting article by Nick Butterly in the West Australian. It shows that the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council commissioned a study in 2013 into community attitudes to live export, with the paper warning that political and public support for the industry was fast disappearing.

The live export industry know the writing is on the wall to end the cruelty. They know, yet they've continued business as usual. Why? It's because they know their mates in the government will turn a blind eye, as they have. Well, we are calling you out. My bill to end the worst aspects of the live export trade has passed the Senate. We know a majority of crossbenchers support an end to live export. The clock is well and truly ticking. You know exactly what you are defending. Enough is enough. You may be able to dodge and weave and obfuscate to deny the Senate what it has asked for, but we won't forget. The people out there won't forget. We have crossed the tipping point, with the majority of Australians thoroughly rejecting the cruelty of live export. We won't stop until the cruel live export industry is consigned to the dustbin of history.

Question agreed to.