NEW South Wales Liberal MP Sussan Ley has had to shelve her private member’s bill for a ban on live exports after being promoted by the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the ministry.
After Mr Morrison was elected leader of the Liberal Party, replacing Malcolm Turnbull, he set about reshuffling the front bench as well as trying to stabilise a divided party.
Even though ending live exports remained a personal stance for Ms Ley, the Federal Member for Farrer, Liberal Party rules prevent ministers from crossing the floor to vote against government policy.
The rules mean that Ms Ley, now a junior minister for Regional Development and Territories, and Liberal colleague Sarah Henderson, who was also promoted to Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, could no longer support any legislation to ban the trade.
“Ending long haul live sheep exports is a matter of strong personal conviction for me,” Ms Ley posted on Twitter.
“That has not changed.
“Can I assure all who care deeply about this issue, I am working hard, with my colleagues and remain fully committed to seeing the end of this awful trade.”
Ms Ley’s private members’ bill, Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill 2018, would have phased the trade out over five years, while also ending live sheep exports to the Middle East during next year’s northern hemisphere summer.
While the bill had support from activists, and many politicians, it didn’t quite get the numbers to pass – although there are other bills before the senate to the same effect co-sponsored by the Greens and by other crossbench MP’s Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer.
With the resignation of Mr Turnbull, the result of the by-election in his electorate may prove pivotal to the outcome of the issue, if not the government as a whole.
Ms Ley also put forward the case recently for the independent regulator to be truly independent.
She said the decision from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to “cancel the livestock export license of Emanuel Exports over a failure to meet existing legislative requirements was a significant step towards the end of the live sheep export trade”.
“However, given the confusing and complex regulatory environment whereby the regulator ‘sits’ within the department, we call on the minister to determine that the regulator must be removed from his department and be established as an independent body,” Ms Ley said.
“The regulator is riddled with conflicts of interest including that it be required to simultaneously police the live export trade as well as promote live exports.
“These arrangements going forward are untenable.
“We commend the Minister for Agriculture for instigating the Moss review and we look forward to the release of its recommendations.”
State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan has also supported making the change to a truly independent regulator.