QLD Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has weighed into the controversy surrounding the fate of 10,000 Australian sheep stranded in Pakistan, saying the isolated actions of a certain group in a certain country, should not be used as a mechanism to shut down the live animal trade.
Speaking to Fairfax Agricultural Media, Senator Joyce rejected claims by the Australian Greens, and mirrored by animal rights groups such as Animals Australia and the RSPCA, that the live export trade should end.
He said live animal exports was a major trade of significance to regional Australia which also enhances bilateral relations with Australia’s near neighbours, like Indonesia.
Senator Joyce said if something went wrong within the trade’s processes, then that process must be fixed.
“You don’t just close everything down because there’s something wrong with the process,” he said.
Senator Joyce also criticised Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig saying he wasn’t doing enough to protect Australia’s interests in key live export markets and ensure the trade’s future viability.
“He hasn’t yet flown to Pakistan to fix things up. He seems to be terrified of doing anything.”
Senator Joyce said the government should have sent diplomatic officials to Pakistan immediately to stay within 10 feet of the sheep, camp there and hold diplomatic discussions with trade officials to ensure the issue was hastily resolved.
Minister Ludwig dismissed Senator Joyce’s statements as the “same old aggressive negativity”.
“The live export trade has a bright future because of the actions taken by this Gillard Government,” he said.
“With the cooperation of industry, we've improved animal welfare standards and strengthened the trade.
“Those improved standards and the system now in place, is the reason this trade can stand up against calls for it to be banned.”