John Cobb MP on Janelle Saffin’s live exports’ position

Saffin's stance on live animal exports is criticised.
Saffin's stance on live animal exports is criticised.

JANELLE Saffin's position on live exports shows she doesn't care about the welfare of animals outside Australia.

In fact, genuine improvements in animal care are the last thing she and her comrades seem to care about.

I am amazed that someone who has had such a strong involvement in the East Timorese independence and human rights overseas has such a contradictory stance on animal welfare.

Ms Saffin should familiarise herself with the facts regarding the issues in our live export markets if she is serious about making a positive difference, rather than supporting the position of those that want to shut down animal production altogether and have us living on lentils.

The Member for Page is ignoring the leading role Australia is playing in lifting international welfare standards.

In fact, of the 109 countries exporting live animals, Australia is the only nation in the world actively changing attitudes and practices in the markets we are engaged in.

Northern Australia producers are well equipped to provide the live export product and are ardent supporters of high welfare standards.

While the Coalition naturally prefers value adding industries and jobs in Australia, live exports serve a market need.

Seventeen abattoirs have failed in Northern Australia in the last 30 years because they have simply been unprofitable and inoperable.

In the words of John Lennon "Living is Easy with Eyes Closed".

Ms Saffin must know that boxed meat will not replace live exports, predominantly as these consumers will not pay a premium for this product and there's the small matter of them not having fridges to store it in.

Do the math - a live animal versus the costs of Australian labour in abattoirs, boning room staff, freezing costs, chilled transport… the poor people in those markets simply can't afford it.

These countries will simply source live animals from other markets that don't have Australia's commitment to animal welfare. Ultimately, a lose-lose situation for all involved.

I went to Indonesia soon after the live export ban last year and was back again last month with Tony Abbott.

Improvements in animal welfare in Indonesia are already real and rapid, following a supreme industry effort to lift standards to ensure access to Australian animals.

Today, 80% of approved facilities in Indonesia use stunning, way up from a low base of approximately 15% at the time of the trade suspension.

I was thoroughly impressed by the commitment from both the Indonesian's and Australian's involved in the industry on the ground.

At one of the feedlots the industry has built a community abattoir with stunning equipment.

This allows local butchers to come to the feedlot and buy a couple of prime animals and then process them on-site in modern facilities so animal welfare can be maintained at the highest standard.

What's more, the local butchers really appreciate it, as the facilities with stunning make the animals easier to handle, the quality of the meat is better and animal welfare can be maximised.

This is positive change and, importantly, none of it would have happened without Australian involvement in the live export market.

If Ms Saffin is serious about the needs of underprivileged people, why is she trying to take the food from their mouths?

She should be a champion of the necessity to provide affordable protein in the developing countries.

I suspect cheap politics is getting in the way of a real commitment to animal welfare.

Ms Saffin should be informing the public of the real issues instead of spruiking the misinformation of extremists.

The Coalition supports an SCA system for live exports so when incidents occur there is a sensible, methodical approach to ensure that matters arising are properly investigated by the government and corrective action and compliance applied where required.

I suggest Labor MPs put their prejudice aside and take a long hard look at the facts.

John Cobb is the Federal Shadow Minister for agriculture and food security.

Topics:  janelle saffin john cobb

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