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AGAINST – Bills — Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024; Second Reading

Andrew Gee

Last night I was outlining the reasons why I'm opposing this bill and this ban. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the words of Bonnie Skinner, who is the chief executive officer of Sheep Producers Australia. She said in her submission to the inquiry looking at this bill:

Government has a responsibility to ensure that no Australian is worse off or left behind. However, should this bill be passed, that is what will occur for thousands of Australians.

Consultation on policy implementation has been done in a rushed and unprofessional manner that has left many producers feeling removed from a process that will impact their families, businesses and communities.

Xavier Martin from New South Wales Farmers has also made some very telling statements, just as Ms Skinner has. Mr Martin says:

… now they are switching off markets for farmers, and food for hungry people.

He asks:

What's next and can we continue to feed and clothe the nation if the decision-making keeps deteriorating?

I'll return to the words of Charlie Thomas from the National Farmers Federation in the NFF's submission to the inquiry. I think Mr Thomas makes some further, very valid and salient points. He says:

The Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea Bill will end a lot of things.

It will end Australia's uplift of animal welfare standards in the Middle East.

It'll end the livelihoods of farmers, shearers, truckies, agents and stock handlers in WA.

It'll end the strong trade and interpersonal ties Australia has developed in the Middle East as a trusted food security partner.

In summary, it'll end the tremendous amount of good this industry creates, both here and abroad.

Again, this is very telling evidence from one of our key agricultural organisations in this country.

But it's not just the big organisations in the agricultural sector which are opposed to this bill. I'll leave the last word to one of our own highly respected local farmers from the Calare electorate, from near Carcoar, George King. He said that live export is not just about the ships and the animals; it is about improving human welfare through affordable and accessible food. It's about education, sharing knowledge and building relationships that subsequently have a positive impacts on animal welfare. Australia has an obligation, as a good global citizen, to export food and best practices to our neighbours. Again, salient points from one of the local farming leaders.

I'll conclude with a couple of remarks about upcoming events. Many in this House will recall the highly successful—and, I would say, evocative—move by the member for Kennedy to get me to dress up as a pig to draw attention to the Reducing Supermarket Dominance Bill 2024 and to stop supermarkets' snouts in the trough. That was a bill put forward by the Independents. The major parties refused to support our bill when it was put into parliament. When the pigs and the member for Kennedy came to Orange, that earned the ire of the National Party. The member for Kennedy quite rightly put the senator who was interrupting our press conference back in his place.

This leads me to my next point—and this is breaking news: the Keep the Sheep delegation will be in parliament next week on Monday and Tuesday, seeking meaningful consultation. Over 61,000 people have signed the Keep the Sheep petition. I'm also reliably informed by the Keep the Sheep delegation that they actually have a mascot. The mascot is called Murray the Sheep. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but they've told me that, to Murray's many and growing circle of friends, it's pronounced 'Maaa-ree'. So Murray the Sheep could be making an appearance with the delegation—and here's where it gets interesting. I ask: what happens if Murray the Sheep bumps into Murray the agriculture minister? That could be very interesting. Members of the press gallery might want to keep an eye out for that one. Pencil that into your diaries: the Keep the Sheep delegation will be coming here on Monday and Tuesday next week. Murray the sheep could well be joining them, and it could be a very interesting couple of days. So I urge all members of this place to consult with the Keep The Sheep delegation; they want meaningful consultation. That will be very interesting to see.

The agriculture sector does an extraordinary amount of heavy lifting for our economy and also for our national prosperity. The ag sector and farmers around Australia oppose this ban and they oppose this bill, and that's why I'm opposing it too. I urge all members of this House to oppose it as well.

Mike Freelander

I thank the member for Calare. Our Murray the minister is grey, rather than Murray the sheep, which I think is white, so we'll be able to tell the difference, thank you very much. We have a 'Murray Grey', you see!

Yes. Very good. I know that. The question is that the amendment be agreed to, and I call the member for Hunter.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 11:32 AM on 2024-06-26
Allegra Spender's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 53
Total number of "no" votes: 89
Total number of abstentions: 9
Related bill: Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024

Adapted from information made available by

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