SUBJECTS: Government’s delay in releasing McCarthy Review into northern summer live sheep exports, divided Turnbull Cabinet.
BEN FORDHAM: The Government is not going to ban live sheep exports according to reports out this afternoon. David Littleproud the Minister is going to be making an announcement tomorrow. I believe he will be joining us on this program tomorrow afternoon. The Review will outline changes to stocking density, ventilation and other crew requirements. It is understood that the new measures will pressure bad operators to change their practices. How many times have we heard that? Joel Fitzgibbon the Shadow Agriculture Minister is on the line. Joel Fitzgibbon good afternoon.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Great to be with you Ben.
FORDHAM: No surprise that they are not banning it. You’ve announced that you would phase it out if you guys get into Government. The Federal Government is falling short of that.
FITZGIBBON: No surprise there. I don’t know how people are speculating today about what they will do tomorrow because David Littleproud took a submission to the Cabinet last night and was effectively rolled. We don’t know exactly what he argued for but they weren’t able to reach agreement. They kicked it down the road to Monday’s Cabinet meeting, this coming Monday . They were supposed to have a lock up with stakeholders and an announcement this morning but of course that all came tumbling down when Cabinet couldn’t come to agreement. Now we are told they are suddenly going to make the announcement tomorrow. So there has been a scramble. I don’t know what happened between last night’s Cabinet and the announcement today that they will make an announcement tomorrow. It is all very messy.
FORDHAM: I see they are talking about ventilation, they are talking about stocking density, they are talking about crew requirements, I am not seeing anything based on the leaks about CCTV and I think everyone agrees the only way to truly know what is going on on-board these ships is that if there are cameras there and we can all see what is going on.
FITZGIBBON: With respect to that I agree. With respect to the summer trade, operators of the ships know CCTV would pretty much put paid to any future for them because as the Veterinarians Association and others have said, there is no way of making this summer export trade consistent with animal welfare standards. The humidity and the heat are so significant that you just can’t cram so many sheep onto a vessel for four weeks and expect that you are going to meet reasonable community expectations on animal welfare.
FORDHAM: So the ban is not announced tomorrow as we are expecting, your response is “not good enough”?
FITZGIBBON: Well I would be very surprised if they come up with anything tomorrow that satisfies our concerns. Even the industry has said you can’t guarantee animal welfare standards in the summer months David no matter what you do. We will wait and see what they have to say tomorrow. But it has obviously been politicised. They said they would wait for the science yet David Littleproud took something to Cabinet last night which differed from the science and therefore was rejected by the Cabinet. We will wait to see what they say tomorrow but it has become a bit of a political football sadly. This is a big issue in the community Ben as you know and this doesn’t pass the pub test, that they deferring and deferring and making the announcement again. Something is not right and something went very wrong in the Cabinet last night.
FORDHAM: We will try and find out what that was all about when we speak to the Minister tomorrow. Joel Fitzgibbon thanks for your time.
FITZGIBBON: Good on you Ben.