26 May 2015


I rise today to discuss an issue of great importance to many people I represent, namely the live export trade. As you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker, I represent an electorate in outer metropolitan west and north-west Sydney.

Over this term and my previous term, I can say that one of the most consistent issues on which I receive representations is this very matter. We have most recently seen the sickening allegations of abuse of animals exported to Vietnam. These reports include allegations that Australian cattle are being clubbed to death with sledgehammers in Vietnamese abattoirs. These shocking claims have disturbed many Australians, including many of my constituents, who have most recently voiced their outrage with these reports. My constituents are frustrated at the regular instances of abuse and what they believe to be a lack of action being taken to hold people to account for such abuse.

When in government, Labor established the strongest live trade and animal standards in the world. The key element is the Export Supply Chain Assurance System, which monitors and regulates the movement of livestock along the supply chain. But more needs to be done. The Abbott government should be on notice: Labor will not support any watering down of this system. Changes which undermine the integrity of this system are unacceptable. Labor also remains committed to the appointment of an independent inspector-general for animal welfare and live animal exports, as announced pre election but dropped by the Abbott government. As well as this, the government recently tried to remove the statutory position of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity, the independent cop on the beat.

The shadow minister, the member for Hunter, has written to the minister requesting a briefing on these alleged breaches of the system in Vietnam and, more importantly, what actions this government is taking in response to these allegations. Frankly, my constituents have had enough of these reports of abuse. Just as an example, last week I spoke with Karen Johnson of Kings Langley, one of many local residents who are fed up. Karen rightly asked why it always seems to be animal rights organisations who find out about his abuse and, it seems, never the industry. It is a fair question, and I call on the minister to prioritise the investigation into these latest allegations and demonstrate that those who are found to be breaching the system will have penalties applied to them. We need transparency, and I believe the minister should be providing regular reports to the parliament on this issue, irrespective of the government of the day.

This abuse simply cannot continue to occur. My electorate has had enough, and so have I. The lack of accountability and penalties is a deep source of frustration. Time and again, these instances of abuse are being uncovered. I have no confidence this latest instance will be the last, and neither do my concerned constituents.