Sanity prevailed in the Senate yesterday, when a Greens disallowance motion attempting to shut down the newly reopened live animal trade with Egypt was not carried.
Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce said the Greens’ motion was irresponsible and a blatant attempt to damage the live cattle trade and send farmers to the wall.
Minister Joyce said the Greens’ failed disallowance motion challenged an order that resumes the live export trade to Egypt and transitions the market to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). ESCAS now applies to every export market for feeder and slaughter livestock.
ESCAS requires Australian exporters to establish supply chains which are consistent with World Organisation for Animal Health animal welfare standards.
The Federal Government introduced a Repeal Order that not only reopened an important export market for Australian producers, but also established strong animal welfare standards by transitioning the market to ESCAS. Egypt had previously operated under a country-to-country system of supervision of live cattle exports.
“Australia now has the strictest system in the world to ensure our exported sheep and cattle are treated as humanely as possible,” Minister Joyce said.
“We are the only one of more than 100 countries that export livestock that seeks to ensure international animal welfare standards are met throughout the entire supply chain.
“On every export ship there is an experienced stockman to manage the welfare of the animals; and for voyages to the Middle East, a veterinarian as well. There are regular inspections and audits.
“Yet, the critics of this trade such as the Greens, whose real aim is to close down all production of meat, would use Australia’s strict regulatory framework as the basis to suspend the trade – it is hypocritical in the extreme.
“The Greens are using the live cattle trade as part of a long-term campaign against meat production in Australia which is in fact an honest and legitimate trade that feeds people.
“The reality is livestock exports are an important, ongoing trade for Australia and the Coalition is one hundred per cent committed to ensuring its viability.
“The live export sector generates around $1 billion a year in exports and provides around 10,000 jobs across rural and regional Australia. Importantly, the sector helps to underpin economic returns to the farmgate.”
Minister Joyce said that Australia’s live export trade with Egypt was worth $10.3 million in 2012–13, consisting entirely of cattle. There is the potential for around 50,000 head of cattle to be exported to this key destination market.
“Egypt is demanding Australian cattle, yet the Greens would stand in the way of this and prefer to see Egypt import cattle from nations with no ESCAS arrangements and no international animal welfare standards,” Minister Joyce said.
“The failed disallowance motion is just the Greens’ latest brazen attack on Australian farmers and farm livelihoods and it again exposes the Greens’ extreme anti-farmer ideology – an ideology which has no place in Australian society and which the Senate should rightly reject.”