I am disappointed that the Turnbull government is digging in on the inhumane live sheep export trade to the Middle East in defiance of the evidence and overwhelming community opposition.
In the Senate today I asked Resources Minister Matt Canavan – representing Agriculture Minister David Littleproud -- the following question:
“Noting that figures from ABARE in its Annual Commodity Statistics for last year show that the value of exports of processed lamb to the Middle East has risen by 102 percent over the last five years while the value of exports of live sheep has fallen by 27 percent, does the Minister agree with the Member for Farrer [Sussan Ley] – and I quote – that “farmers and the rural workforce will ultimately be the winners from the transition away from live sheep exports”?
His answer: “No, I don’t agree.”
All the evidence from ABARE and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is that the live sheep trade to the Middle East is in decline both in numbers and value while sales of processed lamb are rising rapidly.
Four out of five residents of my home state of South Australia oppose the live sheep trade – three out of four nationwide – including seven out of ten in the country.
The Government is maintaining its resistance despite Senator Canavan’s admission in the Senate today that the Director of Meat Livestock Australia was right when he told Senate Estimates in May that the record of the live sheep export operators risked tarnishing the reputation of Australia’s high quality meat industry.
On the other hand, I am pleased that the Minister gave a commitment in the Senate to make public the Moss Review into the capability, powers, practices and culture of the Department of Agriculture in the regulation of live animal exports after it had considered its response.
Minister Littleproud is due to receive the report tomorrow (Friday Sept 14th).
Rural Liberal MP Sussan Ley has declared that the Department of Agriculture as regulator is “riddled with conflict of interests … required to simultaneously police [and] promote live exports.”
I am also pleased that Mr Littleproud has publicly declared he is prepared to consider the appointment of an Inspector-General of Livestock Exports.
He should go one step further in light of the evidence presented by Ms Ley that “farmers and the rural workforce will ultimately be the winner from the transition away from live sheep exports” and announce plans to wind down the trade with Middle East in an orderly fashion in line with the Senate bill passed earlier this week.