Concern over live export ban bill

April 27, 2018

Finley sheep farmer Bruce Atkinson has expressed his concerns about a proposal by Member for Farrer Sussan Ley to ban live sheep exports.

Finley sheep farmer Bruce Atkinson has expressed his concerns about a proposal by Member for Farrer Sussan Ley to ban live sheep exports.

Ms Ley last week announced she would introduce a Private Member’s Bill to cease live sheep exports, following graphic footage shown recently on national television.

She has taken the unusual step of opposing her Government’s stand on the issue, with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announcing a review of the live sheep export industry, rather than supporting calls for a ban.

But according to Mr Atkinson, Ms Ley needs to provide more details on her Bill.

He said he doesn’t want to see ‘‘that market lost’’.

‘‘We need to more information about the current protocol and if it’s not working then we should develop a protocol to suit the welfare of the sheep. What we saw in the video is something we cannot condone,’’ he said.

‘‘I would like to see more about the Bill and need to know about the content before we start to shut down any live sheep exports.

‘‘We don’t want a repeat or something similar to the over-the-top ban of live cattle exports to Indonesia,’’ Mr Atkinson said.

Ms Ley plans to introduce her Bill into the House of Representatives on Monday, May 21.

‘‘The live sheep export trade has been put on notice many times before,’’ she said last week.

‘‘We now need to call time on this cruelty for good. I have advised the Minister for Agriculture of my intention to introduce the Bill with the aim of setting a date to phase out all live sheep exports to the Middle East.

‘‘While Minister Littleproud has taken firm steps since the latest heartbreaking footage was made public - and I commend him for doing so - the level of outrage in the community indicates enough is enough.”

Ms Ley said she recognised the necessary consultation steps with producers and the wider industry.

Despite the call to end live sheep exports, Ms Ley’s Bill will not include shutting down the live cattle industry.

‘‘I want to stress, this move does not seek to halt or alter the short haul export of live cattle to our traditional Southeast Asian markets,’’ she said.

Ms Ley’s decision to speak out against government policy came after a television documentary using secret video from a ship travelling to the Mediterranean in 2017; it showed 2400 sheep dying on the trip.

Depending on the exchange rate the live export market - which is primarily sheep and cattle - is worth between $750 million and $1 billion a year. The industry also claims to directly support almost 10,000 jobs.

In announcing the review, Mr Littleproud said: ‘‘What we saw on film this past fortnight must never happen again. Those who do the wrong thing must be caught and nailed.

‘‘The review will assess the powers available to the Department to make sure exporters obey the regulations. It will also consider whether an Inspector-General of Livestock Exports would be useful and effective.’’

The final report of the review is expected to be completed by August 24.

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