Crossbenchers unite in push to end live exports
EMBOLDENED crossbench MPsin Canberra are pressuring two Liberal ministers to support phasing out long-haul live sheep exports within five years.
This week the live-export industry annonced Australian sheep will no longer travel to the Middle East during the next northern hemisphere summer season.
Revelations thousands of sheep had died in hot conditions on a voyage to the Middle East caused outrage nationally earlier this year and prompted the Federal Government to introduce new regulations on live export vessels.
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie introduced a bill to parliament on Monday, mirroring legislation earlier moved by Liberal MP Sussan Ley and seconded by partyroom colleague Sarah Henderson before they were both promoted to the ministry.
“You had the gumption to come in here and introduce a bill that you believed in,” Ms Sharkie told Parliament.
“I note that both members now have ministries, I hope that’s not the reason for their change of mind and change of heart.”
Ms Ley and Ms Henderson oppose the trade but their elevation to the Coalition frontbench means they must vote with the Federal Government’s position to reform live exports.
The Liberal MPs have committed to agitating for a change in Coalition policy to end live sheep exports.
New independent MP Kerryn Phelps said the proposed five-year phase-out to the sheep trade would give the time to boost meat processing in Australia to create jobs and export opportunities for chilled meat.
“The live sheep export industry has had plenty of chance to lift its game and in my view is beyond Dr Phelps said.
“It is shocking and cruel that these animals spend weeks in extreme heat and overcrowded conditions with many dying on the way to their destination.”
Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, the Member for Denison, introduced his own legislation that would end all live exports of sheep and cattle within three years.
Mr Wilkie’s legislation would also and put tougher safeguards on the industry in the meantime.
“There is systemic cruelty in the live animal export trade redemption,” and the only way to end the cruelty is to end the trade,” Mr Wilkie said.
From June 1 next year no shipments of Australian sheep will depart any Australian port for the Middle East during the period of the highest risk of heat stress during the northern summer.
“This is about maintaining and growing a strong, viable nine-month-a-year live sheep trade and, more broadly, securing the future of Australia’s livestock export industry,” Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chairman Simon Crean said. RESEARCH into the development of a flystrike vaccine targeting the Australian sheep blowfly has been given a $2.5 million boost.
Australian Wool Innovation announced the four-year investment in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the CSIRO.
Flystrike is estimated to cost the Australian sheep and wool industry more than $173 million annually in management and lost production.
AWI general manager for research Jane Littlejohn said the project was aimed to deliver an advanced flystrikeprevention tool, reducing the use and reliance on chemical insecticides and potentially offering a replacement to the current practice of mulesing.
The work includes a detailed study of blowfly populations during the next three flystrike seasons nationally.