20th June - Live Exports
Mr COULTON (Parkes—The Nationals Chief Whip) (19:01): I am pleased that the member for Wills spoke long enough to say something that I did agree with. What I do agree with is that the mistreatment of animals cannot be accepted at any price. What I cannot agree with is the way that this government has handled this issue. The member for Wills believes that we should stop this trade and the people of Australia should demand that. I would like it to be a prerequisite that, for every email that his constituents send around the country, they donate one year's salary with that email because that is what they are asking the people of Northern Australia to do—to donate one year's salary. As for this email flood, I am getting a lot of emails in my office too, but they all have the same words. They are all coming from my constituents at 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock in the morning. I think an investigation into GetUp! finding out how that email list is being put around would also bear not much scrutiny.
I am rather disappointed in the member for Page, who represents one of the finest beef-producing areas in New South Wales. The fact that the member for Page had a motion on banning exports on the books of this parliament for some months—
Ms Saffin interjecting—
Mr COULTON: It is about saving face within the left side of the Labor Party. The reality is that the cattle that are leaving Australia now will not be killed for 90 to 100 days. That leaves plenty of time to put the required changes in place. These cattle are not house bricks. They cannot be stacked up until we build an abattoir in five year's time. The wet season starts by Christmas time. Where will they go then? What is going to happen to these cattle? Are they going to go to a farm where they are going to live out their old age? This is a nonsense.
We can get this trade going. We can ban the delivery of cattle to the abattoirs that are not up to standard. But nowhere in that Four Corners report was there any question that the cattle were mistreated on the trip to the wharf. Was there any question that they were mistreated on the boat? Was there any question that they were mistreated in the feed line?
I was a cattle producer for 35 years and I have great admiration for anyone that can fatten a Brahman. Anyone who saw that Four Corners show saw that those cattle in those feedlots were in prime condition. The issue here—to the member for Wills, the member for Page and others who want to speak on this—is in the last five minutes of that animal's life. We are banning a whole trade and putting the economy of Northern Australia and the welfare of 520,000 animals at risk, and the member for Page has the hide to say that some website said that the cattle market was not going to be impacted by this. If she wants to go to the saleyards in my electorate, it is already 30c to 40c a kilo. I have to say the bottom has fallen out of the sheep market as well on the strength of the rumours that there is another Four Corners show coming on sheep.
Ms Saffin interjecting—
Mr COULTON: The idea that the member for Page can go on to some website and be reassured that the cattle market is hunky-dory is nonsense. Quite frankly, Madam Deputy Speaker, I have had it up to here with people in this place taking the high moral ground with other people's welfare. We have people with full wallets and full stomachs wanting to affect the livelihoods not only of individual families and companies but also of entire communities. The party on the other side is supposed to be the great carer for the Aboriginal people. What about the 700 Aboriginal people that are employed in this industry? What about the 70 to 80 stations that are owned by the Aboriginal corporations in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia? What about their livelihoods?
We have just had it up to here with the hypocrisy in this place. We need to fix up the welfare of these cattle. We need to be over there doing it. I take my hat off to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—I think he was rolled in the first place. He has gone over to Indonesia to sort this out three weeks or probably six weeks too late from when he would have known about this. This has been a disaster at a diplomatic level and an implementation level. I want to know what is going to happen to those cattle that are stranded in Australia: where they are going to go and how the members opposite think they are going to restore some of economic balance— (Time expired)