Steve Georganas MP says ban live export now

Source: Steve Georganas

This is an update on my latest actions regarding live exports.

Like many Australians, I have been very disappointed in recent weeks to read yet more reports footage of animals continuing to suffer overseas after being exported from Australia, including in Kuwait and Pakistan.

You might be aware that I’ve been fighting to end live exports for some time now.

Back in March I took your message to the House of Representatives and told my colleagues in the parliament that it is time to end live exports.

I told them that the only way to ensure our animals are treated in accordance with Australian welfare standards is to keep them here in Australia. I told them that it is time we move from a live export trade to a fully onshore meat processing. And I told them that we need to do this now not just because it makes economic sense, but because it is the right thing to do. You can read my speech on the official Hansard record or at the bottom of this email.

Since then, things have changed. There is a new quality assurance system which is supposed to keep our animals from harm, help us track their movements, and ensure their welfare. But animals are still being mistreated. We saw sheep in Kuwait which should never have been there being brutally slaughtered. So last week, I moved a private member’s motion calling on the Minister to launch a full scale review of the new system to see what’s going wrong, and how we can fix it.

Here’s a copy of the motion I submitted:

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS

Notices given for Thursday, 20 September 2012

MR GEORGANAS: To move—That this House:

1) Condemns in the strongest possible terms the cruel slaughter of Australian sheep at the Al Rai meat market in Kuwait City

2) Supports the urgent investigation into the matter by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

3) Demands the strongest possible penalties to be imposed for any found contravention of the current provisions

4) Calls on the Minister to review the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System to ensure its integrity, efficacy and adequacy

5) Notes the level of public concern in the community about live exports in general including the widely held desire for a total shut down of the industry

6) Recognises the economic and employment creation potential of expanded meat processing in Australia

Moved: Steve Georganas MP

Seconded: Jill Hall MP

You can see that I called for a total review of the current system. That’s because even just one more animal being treated with such brutality to me, is one too many.

I’ve also pointed to the possibilities for Australia’s economy if we look toward a future without any live export at all.

And I also wanted to acknowledge you, and the voices of so many other Australians, for the time you have taken to contact me on this important issue.

Please rest assured I will continue to lobby my fellow parliamentarians for an end to the live export industry. In the meantime, click through to my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter for all the latest updates. If there’s anything else I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Georganas MP

Federal Member for Hindmarsh

2/670 Anzac Hwy, Glenelg East 5045

Tel: 08 8376 9000 Fax: 08 8376 7888

RG-54 Parliament House, Canberra

Tel: 02 6277 4415 Fax: 02 6277 8438

Website: http://www.stevegeorganas.com

House of Representatives – Hansard – Tuesday 13 March 2012 – Live Animal Exports

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (22:15): On behalf of many constituents in my electorate I rise to convey to the House their overwhelming desire for an immediate end to live animal exports. Many constituents have contacted me in the last few weeks since the dreadful scenes we saw on the ABC. I have received hundreds of emails from people across my electorate who are angry and upset at seeing more footage emerge of animal cruelty overseas. They have written to me to express their frustration at seeing cattle in abattoirs overseas not only failing to be stunned but actually being cut up while still alive. This was horrendous vision for any Australian viewing it. It was terrible to watch and we can only imagine the pain and suffering those animals endured.

Whilst we have not yet confirmed the origin of those animals, the message was clear—you just cannot guarantee Australian welfare standards in a country that is not Australia. I think anyone who saw the footage would be horrified. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of cruelty. I am glad that the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry reacted swiftly by launching an investigation. We spoke with the minister’s office, who confirmed that they had launched an investigation. The frustrating thing is that, if we did not have live exports, there would be no need for such an investigation.

Last year when the issue first arose I was one of the first to call for a ban, as was the member for Wills, who is here in the chamber. We did succeed in having a temporary ban imposed, but of course live exports soon resumed despite a lot of lobbying from me, the member for Wills and many other members of the Labor caucus. We now find ourselves in a distressing groundhog day situation. There have been some improvements, and I am pleased that there have been and I am glad the minister has put them in place. Before, we did not have a way of tracking where cattle had come from and now, with new supply chain standards, we do. But this is no excuse for the way animals are being treated, based on the footage we saw on the ABC a couple of weeks ago.

There have been improvements in aspects of the animals’ welfare, but the fact remains that the only way to guarantee the welfare of Australian animals is to keep them in Australia. It is time to bring our meat processing fully onshore. Let us turn a bad thing into a good thing. Let us stop exporting cattle and start processing them here in Australia and value adding. Let us turn a basic product into a premium, value added one. Let us do that not only because it makes absolute economic sense but because it is the right thing to do. I do not agree with those assessments that say a ban on live exports will put cattle producers out of business. I do not believe that for one moment. Just think about the opportunities that fully onshore meat processing presents for jobs—it means more jobs in regional communities and regional areas. It will mean more money staying in the local economy rather than going offshore. New Zealand has been able to do this. There will be a big expansion in our chilled and frozen meat exports, which could open up new markets overseas. It will mean that Australians can be satisfied that our animals are treated humanely when they are slaughtered here in Australia.

Just last weekend Minister Emerson—we saw reports of this in the Australian newspaper—was talking about the fantastic opportunities we have as a nation to become the world’s food bowl, particularly in terms of the demand for meat. He spoke about the increasing demand for beef and lamb in China and other countries where the middle class is rapidly expanding and the appetite for animal protein also continues to increase rapidly. The time is right to make this transition—it is up to us to seize the opportunity with both hands. The message from my electorate and the wider community is crystal clear: end live exports now.

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