30 May 2012
Andrew asks Prime Minister if the Government will support his bill requiring stunning of all Australian livestock shipped overseas.
Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:23): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, one year ago today Four Corners publicised Australian cattle being brutalised in Indonesia. In response, the government introduced some protections for animal welfare, but recent TV footage of more animal abuse in Indonesia proves the government’s reforms are entirely inadequate. Prime Minister, will the government support my bill requiring stunning of all Australian livestock shipped overseas and, if not, why not?
Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:24): I thank the member for Denison for his question. I know that he has had a consistent interest in this issue, as have a number of members of parliament on both sides of the House. I know many of my colleagues are very concerned about it too.
I believe all Australians were shocked by the footage we saw on Four Corners 12 months ago. It was truly horrifying footage. At that time we had no ability as a government or as a nation to track what was happening to cattle who were exported live from Australia to Indonesia or to other nations. We responded by introducing a system that enables us to have visibility across the supply chain. Put simply, that means that we are able to track and trace where Australian animals go and where they are eventually slaughtered. That means that we are also in a position, through working with exporters and requiring them to step up to the responsibility, to be able to ensure that there are OIE standards where animals are ultimately slaughtered. They are the international standards for dealing with livestock. That is the approach that we have taken.
The member for Denison is right: there was more footage relatively recently. The tracing system enabled us to know which exporters of live animals were involved—that is, where the animals had come from. Consequently, through the regulation system—the regulator is the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—we were able to take some action in relation to those exporters.
I know that the member for Denison, a number of other members of this parliament and other people would want to see other standards applied than the OIE standards, but we have deliberately adopted the OIE standards because they are the standards that have worldwide recognition. Consequently, we believe they are the right standards for a worldwide system because cattle from our country go to a number of export destinations. Can I say to the member for Denison that we do work with industry and exporters to encourage stunning. We believe that should be a practice which is encouraged and we will continue to work with the livestock industry and live cattle exporters on encouraging the use of stunning for livestock in abattoirs overseas.
Mr Wilkie: Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During the Prime Minister’s answer a member of the opposition called out, presumably addressed to me: ‘You should go back to Tasmania and rot!’ No wonder the community is so concerned about behaviour in this place. I would ask you to invite that member to withdraw that statement.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): My difficulty is that I obviously did not hear the statement made. If someone would like to be honest enough to identify himself or herself, I would ask them to do so and withdraw the statement because it is unparliamentary. I am going to thank the member for Durack, Mr Haase, for rising and assisting the House.
Mr Haase: If it helps the House, I withdraw.