Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Live Animal Exports
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) on 2 June 2020 the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment denied live exporter Rural Export and Trading (WA) Pty Ltd RETWA an exemption to new rules which prohibit the export of sheep by sea to the Middle East during the northern summer,
(ii) on 13 June 2020, the Department back-flipped on this decision, granting an exemption to allow approximately 50,000 sheep to be exported;
(b) recognises that the new rules, only recently introduced, were designed to protect sheep from the dangerously hot and humid conditions which will lead to inevitable suffering from heat stress, and put the animals at serious risk of death; and
(c) calls on the Minister for Agriculture to intervene and stop the RETWA ship from departing Australia.
The Australian government recognises that the live animal export industry is a major economic contributor and employer in rural and regional Australia. This is the latest misguided attempt by the Australian Greens to call on the government to interfere with the decision of an independent regulator. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, as the independent regulator, has made this decision with the full consideration of the welfare of the animals in mind. It's incumbent upon the government to accept the independent umpire's decision.
Labor will not be supporting this motion, because we do not believe it is appropriate for the minister to intervene on the decision of the live export regulator. We do hold deep concerns for the welfare of the sheep that will be exported to the Middle East under an exemption provided by Mr Hazlehurst, who is the delegate of the secretary for the purposes of the northern summer order. However, we strongly believe that the position of live export regulator should be truly independent from the department to ensure that a minister of any government persuasion does not have undue influence over the final decision when granting exemptions for or against export licences.