21 May 2018Hot off the Press
Image credit: The Guardian Australia
Liberal MP Sussan Ley is introducing a private member’s bill to Federal Parliament that proposes to phase out live sheep exports to the Middle East within five years.
“This has been a trade marked by disaster following debacle and that’s gone on for 33 years, it’s had a very sad history, a very dismal history,” Ms Ley said.
Support for a ban has continued to gain momentum, with Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon telling AM that Labor will give its support this week for what will be known as the Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill.
“I will certainly be recommending to both the shadow cabinet and to the party room this week that we support the bill,” he told AM. “I have no doubt that the bill reflects the view of the broader Labor Party and on that basis I’m very confident that the party room will embrace the bill.”
With Labor’s support and the backing of Liberal colleagues Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood, Ms Ley’s chances of securing the required numbers to debate the bill in the House of Representatives drastically increases.
Despite a boost in support for the ban, there is no guarantee that the trade will be shut down.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made his stance clear on the topic, saying that he has no intention to shut down the trade, because he believes the sector can be reformed.
Last week, the Government declared it will implement all 23 recommendations made in the McCarthy Review, which includes reducing the number of sheep on vessels, and increasing jail time for those breaking the new laws.
Ms Ley says she remains open-minded and optimistic.
“I in some ways compare this to the gay marriage debate, where several private members bills were tabled over the years, and they didn’t provide the immediate response, but they were all part of building the case, making the argument and looking at it … with fresh eyes,” she said.
The export of live sheep will be under intense scrutiny over the following months, and any breaches of the new laws could see a further increase in support for Ms Ley’s proposal.