I share the concern of all Australians regarding the unacceptable conditions uncovered during recent shipments of live sheep to the Middle East.
They were not in line with the standards of our government or our sheep producers.
I need to declare an interest in this debate, I am a sheep producer and have been for the past 40 years. My first memory of the live sheep trade goes back to 1978, significant because it was the year of an industrial dispute relating to the trade.
Those days, the debate was more about industrial relations than about animal welfare, and as a farmer, I am pleased to see this attitude has changed dramatically.
I have watched while the live sheep trade has reduced, with Australia currently exporting fewer than two million sheep a year. The majority leave via Western Australia and Portland, Victoria, with a relatively small number now leaving via Port Adelaide.
While live animal trade has been an important part of the industry for the past six decades, recent actions by one transporter in particular, have prompted the Australian government to instigate the McCarthy review (undertaken by veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy), calling for a major overhaul of live sheep trade.
To date, the government has accepted 22 of the 23 recommendations. These changes are set to significantly improve animal welfare on long-distance voyages.
I support the South Australian government in assisting the Commonwealth in implementing the McCarthy review recommendations.
This not only supports a high standard of animal welfare, but leads the industry in its response to drive major cultural change and strengthen animal welfare, transparency and accountability.
Some of the long-term reform changes include the addition of an independent observer on board voyages to the Middle East, and reduced stocking density for voyages during the northern hemisphere summer.
By implementing these changes, it also supports the 400 SA jobs that rely on the live export trade, worth nearly $40 million a year to our economy. The value of the live sheep export industry to SA in 2016-17 was $23.2 million.
SA livestock industries contribute about $6.3 billion to state revenue, or about 30 per cent of total agriculture, food and wine industry revenue.
Member for Flinders