Mr Wilson (10:12am) —The Sunday before last, on World Animal Day, I joined with hundreds of people on Stirling Bridge in Fremantle as part of the sixth annual Human Chain event that calls for an end to live export.
The people in my electorate live with the confronting reality of this trade, and I support the long-held view of the community I represent. I agree with animal welfare advocates who argue that sheep and cattle are simply not long-distance freight.
We have seen countless incidents that show how live export is essentially incompatible with animal welfare. As long ago as 1985, the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare said that the live export trade is ‘inimical to good animal welfare’.
Since that time, attempts to improve regulation of the industry have not stopped a constant stream of unacceptable incidents. In many cases we only learn of these episodes through the unstinting work of animal welfare advocates like Stop Live Exports and Animals Australia. It is entirely reasonable to argue for a plan to transition out of live export, and it should be noted that there are industry players, like Elders, who have reached the same conclusion.
I welcome the recent opening of the $25 million dollar Kimberley Meat Company abattoir, run by Yeeda Australian Rangeland Meat in Western Australia, the first processing facility to operate in that region for more than 20 years. The abattoir will boost local capability, employment opportunities and economic security for the northern cattle industry. The owner of Yeeda, Jack Burton, has said, quite rightly, that cattle producers are ‘not just married to live export’, and he is to be congratulated for investing in the high-value return and the creation of local jobs that come from locally processed meat.
People in my electorate are proud to live in a working, trading, publicly owned port, and they want that function to continue. But they also want to see Australia make the transition out of the live export industry. That is not a nimby view. It is not because people want the trade to go elsewhere or because they are oblivious to the economic interests of farmers. It is because we have, for decades, seen up close the terrible conditions in which animals are transported over long distances.
Like many Australians, we have had enough of the steady parade of mistreatment and cruelty that has not been, and is not being, regulated out of this trade.
This is not an industry that has existed on any real scale since time immemorial. There is an alternative that can be supported and developed. There is a just transition that can occur with greater economic security for producers, more regional jobs and less animal suffering. It should not be outrageous to say that the long-distance transport of animals for slaughter is a practice that can and should come to an end, especially when we acknowledge here and now, 30 years later, that live export remains inimical to good animal welfare.