Live Export

Teal MP backs off live sheep ban, others target cattle exports

Eric Barker June 28, 2024
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WITH the live sheep ban passing the house of representatives and heading for the senate, members of the crossbench have started the campaign against live cattle exports.

The “Teal” MPs, based in and around Sydney and Melbourne where banning live exports is unlikely to impact the day-to-day lives, or be understood, by constituents have been big supporters of the phase out. One Teal MP in Western Australia, which will feel the full brunt of the ban, has made a late decision to vote against it.

One of the loudest supporters of the ban was Zali Steggall from the Warringah electorate on the Northern beaches of Sydney – whose only issues with the bill were that it would mean the live sheep industry exists for another four years, that it needs more money for the transition and that it did not focus on live cattle exports as well.

“There is a deep concern for animal welfare and safety amongst Warringah residents. This includes concern for the welfare of animals being shipped overseas as live exports,” Ms Steggall said in a speech to parliament.

“I have consistently said that it is our moral and ethical responsibility to bring an end to live animal exports.”

Western Australian Teal MP Kate Chaney has taken a different track to the other independents in the east.

Ms Chaney started the week with a speech to parliament detailing her engagement with people for and against the ban, deciding that “on balance” she was going to support it.

But a few days later she took to social media saying that she had changed her mind and had decided the impacts on livelihoods, mental health, families and communities were not worth banning an industry.

“It’s hard to change your mind, but as a community independent I committed to listening to my community and that is what I have done,” she said.

“Because I am not a member of a political party, I can change my mind based on the evidence. I have agonised over this as I think every parliamentarian should over every vote.”

Ms Chaney said if the industry is not banned, she would like to see more strict oversight of animal welfare.

Teals now going after live cattle exports

While the Government has been putting the live sheep industry on the agenda in recent months, the Teals have been quick to state their intentions of going after live cattle exports next.

When agriculture minister Murray Watt formally announced the Government’s plan in May, North Sydney MP Kylea Tink took to social media to say that her only disappointment was that it was going to take four years and that it did not include beef cattle.

A similar point was made in Ms Steggall’s speech earlier this week, who acknowledged that there are greater economic consequences of banning live cattle exports.

In the meantime, she said the Government should be putting greater scrutiny on animal welfare on live cattle shipments, citing an incident earlier this year where more than 100 cattle died on a shipment to Indonesia – from what is believed to be from a toxin ingested on a property before undergoing the voyage.

“That’s one of the highest mortality rates ever reported on an Australian live cattle shipment,” Ms Steggall said in parliament.

Beef Central pointed out to Ms Steggall that 50 other cattle from the same property died in the pre-export yards and that it was likely the cattle on the boat would have died whether they were in the paddock, in the yards or in a processor’s lairage.

“Zali stands by her speech as the cattle died during export and is not aware that any vets were on the ship,” a spokesperson for the MP said.

Ms Steggall said Australia was just catching up to the rest of the world, pointing to live export bans in New Zealand and the United Kingdom – despite the NZ Government planning to bring back live exports.

Speaking to Beef Central after announcing the ban, agriculture minister Murray Watt said he was pushed by some of the crossbench MPs to ban live cattle. To which he said live cattle export was an industry that enjoyed the Government’s support.

Nationals MP not convinced

Following Ms Steggall’s speech, Southern New South Wales Nationals MP Michael McCormack said he was not convinced about the Government’s support for live cattle exports.

“Our cattle producers would be very nervous if they were listening to that speech by the member for Warringah,” Mr McCormack said in a speech to parliament.

“They would be very, very nervous because, rest assured, once Labor, the teals and the Independents phase out the live sheep trade by sea, they’ll be coming after cattle next. And then what? Will it be horseracing?”

Mr McCormack questioned the secrecy of the Government’s approach to the phase out of live sheep exports, who took six months to release an independent report into it.

“They knew about the backlash that they are going to cop and will cop right up until the next election and beyond for doing this, for phasing out live sheep exports,” he said.

“It’s simply not good enough in this day and age when we’ve got the animal husbandry provisions in place. Those ships are very safe.”



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  1. Tom Casey, July 4, 2024

    Steggal took the Olympic sponsorship from our products when it suited her.

  2. Peter DeGaris, June 28, 2024

    Once again ignorance of the facts by those who have no knowledge of the facts prevails. What about the thousands of lambs eaten by foxes etc., or the thousands of sheep that die of fly strikes? More sheep and cattle die in the paddock from natural causes than the percentage on any ship. I’m over political procrastination by ignorant politicians.

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