Today I returned from a three-day-long inspection of the live export supply chain in Indonesia.
There I saw first-hand Labor's Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) in action: with feedlots and abattoirs operating at the highest standards.
Through my many meetings with Indonesian Government officials, my Opposition counterpart, business leaders, academics and our Ambassador to Indonesia, I gained a better appreciation of the challenges involved in meeting Indonesia's growing protein needs and Australia's role in overcoming those challenges.
During my visit I also travelled to the Lampung region and met with local workers and farmers.
The live export industry is a win for Australia and Indonesia, quantifiable in both economic and social terms.
It cannot be overstated that Australia's relationship with Indonesia is amongst our most important; and our live export sector and the work we are doing with Indonesia to grow its domestic production is helping our near-neighbour reach its full potential.
The live export sector earns Australia around $1.5 billion in foreign exchange each year and employs, or supports the self-employment, of tens of thousands of Australians, most of whom live in rural and regional Australia.
I still believe broader community support for the sector could be achieved by quarterly ministerial reports to Parliament: outlining the sector's economic contribution over the period; any problems which may have emerged; and, importantly, action taken to address them.
We should not fear greater transparency in a sector which has made huge strides since the 2011 trade suspension.
THURSDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2015