Politicians push for an end to live exports

Countryman

Two Bills to ban live export were this week introduced to Federal Parliament.

On Monday, the Greens lodged a Bill calling for an immediate end to the trade, while on the same day Independents Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie introduced a second Bill to phase it out within three years, ending live exports from July 1 2014.

Greens MP Adam Bandt is standing by his belief that processing onshore will boost Australia’s economy.

“We don’t believe the live export trade is sustainable, ethical or delivering as much bang for its buck for the economy as processing these animals on shore,” he said.

“We get a 20 per cent better return economically if we process meat in Australia.”

But it wasn’t just the live export industry under fire.

Mr Wilkie lashed out at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), labelling the organisation “an irresponsible, incompetent, dishonest and uncaring bunch of cowboys”.

“The live animal export system is broken and beyond repair and the arguments against shutting it down are baseless, ” Mr Wilkie told Parliament.

He said ending live export would only have a “marginal effect” on the wider beef industry.

“The export trade has cannibalised the onshore processing trade — it does explain why some abattoirs have shut,” Mr Wilkie said.

Mr Xenophon said the 2014 deadline would allow the industry to transition to chilled meat export only.

“In the meantime, regulations will be put in place to ensure that any country we export to meets World Animal Health Organisation standards for animal welfare,” he said.

“The animals (would also be) stunned using humane and appropriate restraints immediately before slaughter.

“The Government needs to ensure that there is an appropriate plan in place before the end of live exports.

“This plan should include subsidies to assist producers in transporting their animals until abattoirs in the north are reopened, and compensation to ensure that industry can make the changes it needs to.”

However, neither Bill is likely to pass the Lower House, because both the Gillard Government and the opposition have thrown tentative support behind the live export industry.

Debate on the Live Animal Export Restriction and Prohibition Bill 2011 was adjourned.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Independent MP Bob Katter moved a motion to suspend standing and sessional orders in the Lower House to force the Government to send officials to Indonesia with stun guns and video cameras to stop the inhumane slaughter of cattle.

The motion was seconded by an unlikely alliance — Mr Wilkie — but failed to gain the support of Mr Katter’s fellow Independent, Tony Windsor.

Ultimately, it was narrowly defeated 75 to 74, prompting Mr Katter to take aim at Mr Windsor, claiming he voted against the interests of the cattle industry.

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