POLITICAL pressure against live sheep exports increased this week with a second Bill aimed at phasing out of the trade, possibly within five years.
The Labor Party has offered conditional support to a Private Members Bill to phase-out the trade, due in the House of Representatives on May 21 from the New South Wales Liberal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley.
And yesterday, Senators Lee Rhiannon from the Greens and Derryn Hinch form the Animal Justice Party gave notice of the Animal Export Legislation Amendment (Ending Long-Haul Live Sheep Exports) Bill 2018.
They are hoping it will be debated and voted on during the June Senate sitting, after its presentation was delayed until by-elections are held for the four Labor backbenchers and crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie caught up in the dual citizenship controversy.
Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said the Senate Bill, if enacted, would end live sheep exports during the high-risk northern summer months from May to October.
“While shipments continue we need to address the welfare of the sheep on the export ships.
“Our Bill would halve current stocking densities so then exported sheep would be able to move around more easily, lie down and have easier access to food and water,” she said.
“The Bill also sets out a plan to phase out the industry within five years.
“We have agreed to this timeframe so sheep producers can make the necessary adjustments to their stocking cycles.”
Senator Rhiannon said the Greens were in talks with other cross benchers and representatives of the major parties.
“Our hope is that we can achieve cross party support for transitioning out of this cruel trade.
“The boost this Bill will bring to employment in regional Australia and the national economy is another reason that should galvanise support from all parties.”
Senator Derryn Hinch said he was pleased and proud to join with Senator Rhiannon and the Greens to introduce a motion that will, he believed, finally lead to the phasing out of live exports of sheep from Australia.
“It’s been a long time coming but this cruelty must end.
“This week we have come the closest ever to ending this barbaric trade but the High Court action over dual citizenships and the subsequent Labor resignations have delayed our plans for legislation in the House of Representatives,” Senator Hinch said.
“It’s just a hiccup.
“The Greens, Labor, Centre Alliance, some Liberals and I, are still fully committed to phase out the trade.”
Ley and Labor still negotiating
Ms Ley said there was “broad support” from Labor on the Bill, but discussions were continuing. A draft of the Bill has to be presented by May 17 for a May 21 introduction to parliament.
“Hopefully we will agree on a form of words that we can both support, but I’m not compromising on my plans for a phase-out, a transition, while appreciating the needs of farmers.
“I’m not going to speak for Labor, but obviously they are heading in that direction too.”
Ms Ley said she also had the support of Victorian Liberal MP Sarah Henderson.
“It will be a Bill that is moved and seconded by government members, but co-sponsored across the parliament; other crossbenchers and Labor members will put their names on the Bill.”
Ms Ley did not see the live export issue as political nor dividing down party lines.
Fitzgibbon says live export Bill agreement close
In an interview with 5AA Radio Adelaide presenter Leon Byner, Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said he had been discussing the Bill with Ms Ley “aboutt what that Bill might look like from the perspective of the potential of Labor supporting the Bill.
“We have also had discussions with other cross party members including the Greens Party.
“It seems to me we are very close now to reaching an agreement on what that Bill will look like,” he said.
“The sticking point for me has been in the timing of the phase out.
“I don’t believe we can successfully transition farmers without doing them damage inside five years,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Thankfully, it appears to me that all parties have agreed that a five year phase out is a reasonable period of time.
“We have also agreed we can’t wait five years for the horrendous northern summer trade to be dealt with,” he said.
“Therefore I think we are pretty close to agreement that that summer trade should be phased out immediately; although this Bill could never hope to be through the Parliament before the completion of this year’s summer trade, so that would have application first of all in 2019.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said if agreement can be secured, the Bill will have a real prospect of passing the House of Representatives and certainly the Senate.
“It just depends on these coming by-elections because of course the Labor Party has just lost three votes in the House of Reps and Rebekah Sharkie who was also poised to support the Bill.”
Australia should realise that we export animal welfare improvements as well as live animals. Not only Australian animals, but domestic animals from other countries, are treated in a much better, more efficient and less stressful manner as a result of our trade to those countries. Any primary school student can work out using the total space on a ship for sheep and the number of sheep that sheep really have adequate space to lie down and to have access to feed and water during their time on board. Hence images recently shown where sheep were tight would only have been temporary for pen cleaning or more likely in preparation for unloading. Let science and reality — not hysteria, lack of understanding and biased emotion — make proper decisions in relation to this matter.
Trish, you are absolutely right and one can only hope the cow was dead before this happened. Through the years I can no longer witness the footage of obscene cruelty inflicted on our livestock. Yes folks, this is a political issue and one can only pray there is some compassion and ethics left in Canberra. Keep up the rage and help these defenceless animals.
We need to keep up the pressure on the government and never let them forget those images we saw. This must end once and for all. I saw yesterday an image of a poor cow hung upside down by one leg with its stomach cut open and insides hanging out. This is what we send our animals too… what a disgrace. We are no better than those who do that. End live export now. The Australian people have spoken.
Only if you are in favour of phasing out live sheep exports, Tom.
Do we need to march on parliament?