It’s not surprising that when news reports of horrific heat leading to the death of sheep being exported to the Middle East that people call on the government to act. For the last 7 years, I’ve received hundreds of emails and phone calls on this issue, pleading for the government to do more to prevent animal cruelty.
The Albanese Government is taking a leadership role, as government should. We took a commitment to the last election – and the one before – to end live sheep exports, and last month in Parliament, legislation passed through the lower house to improve the animal welfare rules. Prioritising animal welfare just makes sense: the industry acknowledges it, the community knows it and our trading partners expect it.
Our improvements expand the role of the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports to include additional animal welfare-related objectives. One of the first things that will happen, when the legislation passes the Senate, is a review of the effectiveness of the things livestock export officials do, to identify any gaps that are affecting animal welfare.
The package of changes will increase the oversight, accountability and transparency for exported livestock, part of our commitment to a science-based approach to animal welfare.
Work is underway to consult with the agricultural sector on the timeline for phasing out the live sheep trade. It will not end in this term of Parliament, because we want to allow time for individuals and businesses to adapt and prepare for that transition.
This provides the space to look at what opportunities open up in terms of expanding domestic processing and increasing sheepmeat export overall. I think that is appropriate, but in the meantime, I’m pleased to see higher standards and greater transparency of this sector.