MP calls for review of live exports

ANGER on Labor’s backbenchers over live exports is building, with one outraged MP tabling a motion in federal parliament that calls for an immediate review of the government’s animal welfare rules.

Just days after The Australian revealed that more sheep had been allegedly spotted for sale and slaughter in unaccredited markets in Kuwait – the second time in six months – Steve Georganas introduced a private members motion to condemn continual breaches of the export regulations.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie also expressed his anger over the $1 billion trade yesterday in parliament, saying he received “countless email, letters and phone calls” about the issue.

“The concern expressed is urgent and genuine and the community is sick to death of this government treating animal welfare as a persistent nuisance and paying it only passing concern,” he said.

Mr Georganas called on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to speed up its five investigations into claimed animal cruelty in Kuwait, Pakistan, Israel and Mauritius.

“Enough is enough. Time to end the cruelty,” the South Australian MP, who wants to ban live exports in favour of a domestic processing market, said yesterday.

His motion asks the House of Representatives to note “the sustained level of public concern in the community” about live animal exports.

“(I call) on the minister … to review the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System to ensure its integrity, efficacy and adequacy,” the motion reads. “(And) support the urgent finalisation of all investigations into live exports being currently conducted by DAFF.”

The motion also “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the inhumane slaughter of Australian sheep in Kuwait.

The government confirmed this week it was assessing information and photographs provided by Animals Australia showing Australian sheep being sold at Kuwait City’s al-Rai livestock market and the Friday local market on January 17-18.

The claims come amid another investigation that sheep were mistreated at the same market last August. They also follow the suspicious deaths in Mauritius of 65 cattle, some of which were pregnant, and the brutal culling of thousands of sheep in Pakistan amid a trade dispute last September.

Julia Gillard and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig have faced a revolt in their ranks over the live export issue since their decision to reopen the trade to Indonesia after a month-long suspension in June 2011.

The temporary ban – which devastated the live cattle industry in northern Australia – followed the release of disturbing footage showing Australian cattle being abused in Indonesian abattoirs.

DAFF told a Senate committee hearing this week they could not give a date for the conclusion of the five investigations.

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