Liberal MPs to pursue a bill to phase out live export trade

Written on the 11 May 2018 by David Simmons

Liberal MPs to pursue a bill to phase out live export trade

Liberal MP Sussan Ley has proposed a private members bill to phase out the cruel live export trade despite the Turnbull government's position on the matter.

Whilst Labor wants to see the practice banned, the party's leader, Bill Shorten, is yet to decide if Labor will support Ley's bill.

However, as Fairfax Media reports, the party has been in intensive negotiations with Ley over the contents of her bill.

Labor allegedly agreed to support the bill after insisting it gave farmers a minimum five-year transition period to wind down the trade, rather than an immediate ban. However, the northern summer trade to the Middle East, where extreme conditions can cause mass fatalities of animals on board the ships, would be banned from 2019.

Shorten says Labor is having constructive discussions with Ley but has not come to a final position on her bill yet.

"Industries which rely upon cruelty as part of their business model, you've got to question their viability," says Shorten.

"But of course if there is any transition out of live export you've got to look after the farmers, work with them."

Another Liberal MP, Sarah Henderson, has already announced her support for Ley's private members bill.

"The live export of sheep to the Middle East is inhumane and must come to an end," says Henderson.

"The cessation of long-haul live sheep export must occur over a period of time and in consultation with farmers and the industry."

Henderson joins party-room colleague Jason Wood in supporting an end to the trade. WA Liberal Ian Goodenough has also raised concerns about the practice.

Both Ley and Henderson are MPs from country electorates, but Henderson says the majority of the farming community would support the phasing out of the practice.

"As a rural Victorian Liberal MP representing a large farming constituency, I believe the vast majority of my constituents, including farmers, will strongly support my decision," says Henderson.

The Greens and independent senator Derryn Hinch are also pushing for the trade to be wound down, and are constructing their own bill.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is waiting on the findings from an independent review into the northern hemisphere summer trade until he makes a decision.

READ: There is little to be proud of in the wake of the live export controversy

Labor has pledged to end the trade if it wins government at the next election.

Controversy surrounding the live export trade reignited in April following an investigation by Animals Australia which uncovered disturbing footage of what was occurring on the live export ships.

The government and the opposition have been hesitant with proceeding to call for an outright ban on the trade so as not to repeat the 2011 snap-ban on live export which devastated the lives of many in the Australian farming community.

Large public protests have ignited in the wake of the Animals Australia investigation, with animal rights organisations in Australia and overseas calling for a quick resolution to the issue.

Last weekend, Fairfax Media published gruesome new footage of sheep that had died en route to the Middle East. Vets said the sheep had effectively "boiled to death" in the heat.

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Author: David Simmons

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