Livestock Industry

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:23): I move:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report on strategies to ensure a strong and robust South Australian livestock industry should live animal exports be either banned or restricted, with particular reference to—

(a) the development of a plan to assist farmers and transporters who currently gain income from the live export trade in the event that the trade ceases or is restricted;

(b) exploring the capacity of the local meat processing industry to expand and create jobs in a changing industry;

(c) developing and strengthening overseas markets for Australian chilled and frozen products;

(d) exploring the quantum and scope of the assistance package required for South Australian farmers to make a positive transition should the trade cease or be restricted;

(e) ensuring that the South Australian livestock industry is best placed to capitalise on opportunities should live exports be banned; and

(f) any related matters.

2. That standing order 389 be so far suspended as to enable the chairperson of the committee to have a deliberative vote only.

3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

4. That standing order 396 be suspended to enable strangers to be admitted when the select committee is examining witnesses unless the committee otherwise resolves, but they shall be excluded when the committee is deliberating.

This motion reflects reasonably closely one that is in the other place at the moment. Labor members would be relatively familiar with the words and, in fact, it echoes their call in the other place for a select committee to look at the live export industry. While there the Labor Party has chosen to only focus on sheep, the Greens' motion today focuses on all live exports. We do so because we know that the live export select committee motion is currently stalled in that other place.

Here, just a week away from our winter break, when members will not be in these council chambers, we know that there is a long, hot summer to come. We also know that one certain thing about the live export industry is that it will continue to be controversial and it continues, time and time again, to show that it has failed to ensure its social licence.

I echo the words of the member for Croydon: 'we would like to see bipartisan support for this call'. Of course, here the Greens would like to see cross-party support for a call to investigate what the member for Croydon goes on to say:

We believe the time has come. There can no longer be justification for these sheep being packed on these ships and sent across the seas on these long voyages in significant heat stress. Their suffering cannot be ignored anymore but, as I have outlined, this is not just an animal welfare issue. There will be new economic growth opportunities created for our state by banning this archaic practice.

The member for Croydon goes on to say:

We can work closely with the industry. We can work closely with the graziers. The government has the capacity to develop a transition plan to work with them so that when the inevitable legislative ban takes effect we are best placed, best equipped, to be able to deal with that. More than that, more than just working with graziers to transition out of the trade, what we should be doing is working with abattoirs and other meat-processing facilities to ensure that we capitalise on the opportunity to expand the industry. If we sit back and wait for a ban to be instituted and do not act, we will have missed the boat—no pun intended. We would have missed the opportunity to capitalise on that ban.

With those words, I do agree with the member for Croydon. I note that the government in the other place has pointed to memories of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union in 1978 protesting the live export industry because of the loss of jobs to their industry. Recently, we saw the federal government award $146 million to meatworkers in Vietnam to upskill them, when here in this country over many decades we have seen these workers put out of work.

I note also that representatives of the meatworkers union have stood side by side with vegans down at Port Adelaide, at the docks at Outer Harbor, protesting the live export industry. If we can get vegans and meatworkers standing side by side, I would hope that this parliament could see Labor and Liberal work together to ensure that we do transition out of the live export industry.

I say to members of this council that we will do the job if the other place cannot do it. The Greens stand ready, willing and able to effect a select committee, and I am sure other members of this council will, too. Rather than stall it while we go on our winter break and we hit that long hot summer, and rather than wait time and time again for small charities such as Animals Australia to expose the cruelty, which we know they will continue to do, we could act in this state to ensure that we have a just transition plan for animals, for workers and for farmers alike. We have the capacity to act here if the government will not take the initiative in the other place. I would urge members that we consider moving in this council to do the job that the government currently fails to do.

I note also that the government takes some comfort that the RSPCA will be able to effect some change on the cruelty we see in the live export industry. I note that the RSPCA's jurisdiction does not extend into those waters, but also the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare Act jurisdiction does not actually extend to prevention of cruelty. It is a failing of our current act that we cannot prevent what we know to be cruelty to come. Expecting the RSPCA to work miracles with flawed legislation is not going to be the panacea that the Marshall government believes it will be. With those few words, if the vegans and the meatworkers can stand together, surely we can put aside our political differences to ensure our state transitions out of this cruel industry.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.

Stay Connected

Sign Up to news and updates from Tammy.