Like all Australians, I was shocked and deeply disturbed by the mistreatment of Australian livestock exposed during the Four Corners program on 30 May 2011.
As a cattle owner myself I do not condone any ill-treatment of animals such as weve seen in some Indonesian abattoirs. However bad practices at some abattoirs are not a reason to ban the entire live cattle export industry.
Both the Coalition and Labor Party are proposing to vote against legislation banning or phasing out live exports. This bipartisan support for a continuation of the live export trade indicates that both the Coalition and Labor Parties believe that banning the live export trade would not be in the best interests of animal welfare, either in Australia or overseas.
Following the recent disturbing expose of inhumane treatment of animals in some abattoirs, and the subsequent ban, the Labor Government has permitted exports to resume under strict conditions. The shipping and feed lotting processes are already world class and now cattle will be traced from when they leave Australia right through to processing at approved facilities.
Banning live exports would result in over 500,000 cattle being stranded at properties in northern Australia. There are few alternatives for pastoralists to deal with this over-supply as southern markets are distant while past attempts to establish abattoirs in the north have failed due to the short operational periods, the wet season and the lack of availability of affordable fodder.
Overstocking on northern properties would create its own animal welfare issues while also leading to environmental degradation.
In relation to animal welfare standards overseas, I understand there are 109 countries that export live animals but that we are the only country that invests in animal welfare in destination countries.
If Australia was to ban live exports, animals would be sourced from other countries which neither impose our high domestic standards nor work with destination countries on higher standards.
Being a major player in the market and only supplying those that are doing the right thing is the best tool to drive animal welfare reform in developing countries.
The $1 billion live export industry is very important to the economy of northern Australia, and is particularly important to indigenous communities with 82 indigenous-run cattle properties directly supporting 700 jobs and indirectly supporting a further 17,000 people in station communities.
I appreciate that there are many in the community with strong views on this issue. Both the Coalition and the Labor Party have weighed these views and, on balance, determined that the live export trade should continue under strict conditions.
I thank you again for sharing your concerns in this important issue.
Scott Buchholz MP
Federal Member for Wright