Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley has confirmed she will hold a public forum, in conjunction with Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan, in relation to Ms Ley’s private member’s bill on live exports.
Ms Ley said she was open to talking with any parliamentarians about the bill, something Ms McGowan had taken the chance to do.
‘‘I am offering all of my parliamentary colleagues the opportunity to receive a briefing on my private member’s bill,’’ Ms Ley said.
‘‘Cathy has taken this offer up, and we are planning a public forum on the issue to be held in her electorate in coming weeks.
‘‘This is both an economic and an animal welfare issue.
‘‘People need to be able to ask questions on how a phase-out period can work, and how we can ensure moving the diminishing long haul export market to a fully pre-packaged trade without damaging the farm sector, particularly in WA,’’ she said.
Despite hearing from Ms Ley, Ms McGowan said she was willing to work with the Federal Government to ensure proposed changes to the live export trade consider animal health as the primary focus.
‘‘Making sure animals are well looked after should be first and foremost,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘Ms Ley’s bill is not seeking an immediate ban on livestock exports. It is seeking the phasing out of the trade over five years.
‘‘It needs to be determined how this transition would work, what will happen in the interim and whether the five-year period is too long or too short.
‘‘There are a lot of good things in Ms Ley’s bill but there are outstanding issues and in some areas it doesn’t go far enough.
‘‘I commend Ms Ley and the Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson for their work. It is fantastic to see regional Liberal members standing up for agriculture.’’
Ms McGowan said she was in favour of a ban on the summer trade.
‘‘I support the government’s proposal to increase penalties against those found to have done the wrong thing and having inspectors on ships during the transition period. This is very important.
‘‘I don’t believe we have gone far enough in holding to account those responsible for compromising animal health in this trade.
‘‘Some terrible things have happened on some of these ships and that needs to be acknowledged and appropriately penalised.’’
The Federal Coalition was expected to put its bill to parliament late last month, but delayed because of missing MPs and the threat of Ms Ley crossing the floor.
The bill is now expected to be put to parliament in the week starting June 18.