Greens 'attacking ag': Joyce

02 Apr, 2014 01:00 AM
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has lashed out at Greens' moves to ban live export.
Producers will not be held to ransom by the Greens and their extremist backers any longer
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has lashed out at Greens' moves to ban live export.

A MOVE by the Greens to block Australia’s live export trade has come under fire from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

The Minister inspected the loading of the livestock carrier MV Al-Shuwaikh in Fremantle on Monday as a ship load of sheep set sail to Bahrain, marking Western Australia's resumption of live exports to that market after an eight-year hiatus.

“Every sheep on this boat is a reflection of someone who is getting a cheque back to their kitchen table,” he said. “It is a good trade and I stand behind it.”

Mr Joyce said a Greens bill to ban live animal exports – to be reintroduced in the Senate this week – was part of the party’s “underhanded tactics” to “attack agricultural competitiveness in Australia”.

The disallowance motion to be introduced into the Senate by Senator Lee Rhiannon seeks to prevent the resumption of live animal exports to Egypt. If successful, it would have a significant impact on livestock producers, particularly in WA, Mr Joyce said.

The Greens and the RSPCA have voiced strong concerns over the continued use in Egypt of full inversion slaughter boxes, currently allowable under the Australian government’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) framework, but Mr Joyce said Australia’s welfare standards were “unparalleled by any other country”.

RSPCA Australia chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones said the decision to resume trade with Egypt was “premature” and the emphasis should be on first improving welfare standards before opening up more markets.

“Despite previous arrangements having many of the hallmarks of ESCAS, they failed to protect Australian cattle from significant and ongoing cruelty - how can the Australian public trust it will be any different now?” she said.

Mr Joyce said the agricultural sector in Australia had nothing to be ashamed of.

Neither the government nor producers would be “held to ransom by the Greens and their extremist backers any longer”, he said, and banning live export would also deprive Australia’s export partners of access to some of the “cleanest, greenest high quality protein in the world”.

“The government’s agenda is crystal clear - we are about boosting Australia’s agricultural competitiveness and increasing returns at the farmgate and one fundamental way of achieving that is opening up and building on our trade relationships,” Mr Joyce said.

The Greens have ramped up longstanding calls to replace live ex with a boxed meat trade, in response to the reopening of several closed live export markets.

The resumption of trade with Egypt and Bahrain follows reports of significant increases in exports to Indonesia, with recent confirmation of second quarter permits to that market for around 273,000 head of cattle.

Senator Rhiannon last week claimed the Agriculture Minister was looking after “a few wealthy pastoralists” instead of focusing on employment growth opportunities in regional Australia.

“Opening up abattoirs across regional Australia would create thousands of jobs and help secure Australia a stronger place in the expanding international trade in processed meat,” she said.

“The fact that record boxed lamb shipments were sent to the Middle East in the last fiscal year and that Bahrain has totally replaced Australian live sheep imports with the import of Australian meat shows that there is a viable and more humane alternative.”

The Greens’ bill to ban live exports was first introduced to the Senate in June 2011 by Senator Rachel Siewert prior to the temporary suspension of live exports to Indonesia. It was reintroduced by Senator Rhiannon in March 2012. Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt introduced a similar Greens bill into the House of Representatives in 2011, and in February Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie introduced a bill to phase out the trade over three years - his fourth legislative attempt to stop Australian live animal exports, despite vocal support from both sides of the House for continuation and expansion of the trade.

“Australia produces and exports livestock according to animal welfare and production standards which are unparalleled by any other country,” Mr Joyce said.

“The government will strongly oppose this latest attack on Australian livestock producers by the Greens and stand behind our commitment to boosting the competitiveness of agricultural production.”

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2/04/2014 5:36:17 AM

The Greens should be congratulated on introducing this bill by all livestock producers. As I see it, this is a very positive way of reducing their electoral support right across the board in rural Australia. Not satisfied with their reduced vote in Tasmania and South Australia, they have come up with this ingenious way of totally making themselves totally irrelevant. Well done Lee Rhiannon!
John Newton
2/04/2014 5:48:48 AM

Hang on. How is it an attack on livestock producers if the meat still leaves the country? As Senator Rhiannon says “The fact that record boxed lamb shipments were sent to the Middle East in the last fiscal year and that Bahrain has totally replaced Australian live sheep imports with the import of Australian meat shows that there is a viable and more humane alternative.” And it seems to be a good boost for rural employment with more would appear once again that lobbyists are trumping good business and governance practices
2/04/2014 6:40:45 AM

It is a nonsense that anyone in this country would contemplate supporting bans on live export of commercially grown animals. Not only do I not support The Greens I no longer support the RSPCA as it has become nothing more than a front for animal activists.
2/04/2014 7:04:24 AM

The Greens are also more supportive of Ag as far as Coal Seam Gas is concerned.
2/04/2014 7:08:36 AM

Uh, you should check your facts. Bahrain did not 'totally replace' Aus live with Aus boxed, and Lee Rhiannon knows it. They upped their boxed meat yep, and they also upped their intake of boxed meat from North Africa, as well as thousands of live sheep from Somalia. Added bonus, African sheep have Rift Valley fever which kills humans. Trying to whitewash it by pretending that Bahrain only took safe and healthy Aus boxed meat is a little too convenient.
2/04/2014 7:11:33 AM

John Newton you actually believe what Rhiannon says. Strange inaccurate statement she made because Barnaby inspected the loading of sheep destined for Bahrain on Monday. And John, the attack on producers is that the ban would reduce competition and so producers receive less as was the case with the Indonesia ban in 2011.
2/04/2014 7:19:53 AM

I agree with John Newton. Any decent farmer would prefer their sheep to be slaughtered locally for commercial and humane reasons. The images of sheep being tied to Peugot roof racks and driven away from the docks, not to mention the long sea voyage itself, are enough for Australia to clean up this trade.
2/04/2014 7:29:12 AM

“a few wealthy pastoralists" get real Rhiannon. The vast majority of farmers and pastoralists are anything but 'wealthy'. Unless you describe wealthy as including asset rich but cash poor. I'm willing to bet my income against your allowances that I live on less than those allowances. As for replacing 'live' with 'boxed' our boxing costs are uncompetitive with the rest of the world.
2/04/2014 7:44:00 AM

Hang on craniologist 'all livestock producers' haven't introduced any bill. The article says the greens have introduced it. First prescription for you should be some lessons in grammar and sentence construction.
2/04/2014 8:12:45 AM

Say what you like, live export is a very cruel trade and you'll never make it look humane or respected. Well done Lee Rhiannon.
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