UPDATE 18 MAY 2018:
Labor’s response to the McCarthy Review into the Northern Summer Live Sheep Trade
Despite many chances, the live sheep trade has been unable to demonstrate it is capable of meeting reasonable animal welfare standards.
Malcolm Turnbull said he wanted to take a science-based approach but has chosen to ignore the advice of both the Australian Veterinary Association and RSPCA. They say live sheep cannot be transported to the Middle East during the northern summer period without suffering extreme heat stress.
This is why Labor will put a halt to the summer trade and phase-out the rest of the trade as quickly as is possible.
Labor will work with farmers, unions and business to develop a Strategic Red Meat Industry Plan to help sheep farmers make the transition to a model which delivers sustainable profitability.
In addition to offering something better for farmers, Labor’s plan will allow more value to be added to the product here in Australia, create more jobs here in Australia, and deliver a better result for the Australian economy.
UPDATE 3 MAY 2018:
Labor has announced a transition plan to end live exports:
“A Labor Government will develop a Red Meat Strategic Industry Plan and we will begin a transition, a plan to lift producer profitability, a transition to an end to live sheep export but a plan that both lifts producer profitability and creates more value and more jobs here in Australia.”
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
ABC NSW Country Hour
Labor understands that there is opposition to live export and that the community is shocked and dismayed by the recent disturbing revelations of animal cruelty in the industry.
While disappointing, it’s not surprising these incidents continue to occur. Senior members of the Turnbull Government constantly provide unqualified support to the industry.
Labor extended an offer to the Government to work with it - on a bipartisan basis - to strengthen our regulatory and accountability regimes.
However, a leaked letter has revealed the Turnbull Government has turned a deliberate blind eye to animal welfare warnings in the live export industry.
The Coalition Government has:
- Ignored both industry and animal welfare group warnings of systemic failure;
- Delayed the review of the Australian Standards for Livestock Export (ASEL);
- Rejected Labor’s commitment for a review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS);
- Abolished Labor’s Inspector General of Animal Welfare;
- Rejected Labor’s proposal for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare;
- Rejected regular Ministerial reports to Parliament on investigations into reported breaches;
- Abolished the Australia Animal Welfare Advisory Committee;
- De-funded the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy;
- Abolished the Animal Welfare Unit within the Department of Agriculture; and
- Allowed exemptions from animal welfare standards without review and sun-setting clauses.
Ongoing reform and strengthening oversight in the live export sector came to a halt when the Abbott/Turnbull Government was elected.
When Labor announced its 6 Point Plan for Animal Welfare during the 2016 Election Campaign, Barnaby Joyce reacted with condemnation and declared a link between Labor’s 2011 live export suspension and asylum seeker arrivals.
Belatedly, the Turnbull Government has commissioned four reviews into the regulation of the industry, but the timeframe on some of these mean they will not be complete until after the next election.
Labor has been clear from the start that we don’t think the inquiry into the live sheep trade during the northern summer will find that the trade is sustainable in the long-term.
Bill Shorten said two weeks ago, that the industry has had plenty of chances to clean up its act, and it’s failed. The government has had plenty of chances to properly regulate, and it’s failed.
Whilst we are interested to see the outcome of the review, the industry itself has conceded that it is not possible to guarantee there will be no future events like those we saw on 60 Minutes.
This is why Labor is committed to working with the industry on a future that doesn’t rely on live sheep exports. The Government should be doing that right now.
Labor will work with farmers, unions and business to develop a Strategic Red Meat Industry Plan to assist sheep farmers to transition. A transition would take a number of years.
Labor’s plan will lift farmer profits; it will add more value here in Australia, to create more jobs in Australia, in fact, create jobs right along the supply chain.
What Labor is talking about is transitioning in a smart, orderly and strategic way – creating value here, creating jobs here. We believe this can be done to benefit the farmers as well because if we can pursue those the high value markets they will benefit.