SUBJECTS: Live sheep export trade, Commonwealth Government’s unwillingness to assist Western Australian Government with animal welfare investigations.
LEON BYNER: I kind of thought that the live sheep debate, whilst it’s important and many people are thinking about it and very conscious of it, public opinion seems to be that we need to phase it out, alright. Something rather interesting has happened which would suggest there is a lack of sincerity from the Minister and the Federal Government. Let me just remind you what Mr Littleproud said on this program recently.
[RADIO GRAB] MINISTER DAVID LITTLPROUD : We need to get ahead of the curve. We’ve got to get truth and proof on those boats. We’ve got to get comfort for our community so they know when we put an animal on a boat we know they are going to get across the other side with the best animal welfare that we would expect. That is where we have to get to. We have been too reactionary and haven’t been proactive enough. I can’t change the past. I have been here four months but I intend to put my shoulder to the wheel and get on and get the job done. But do that with science not emotion.
BYNER: Hold that thought. We caught up with a few minutes ago with the Shadow of David Littleproud, Joel Fitzgibbon. Joel Fitzgibbon, we have been told that the Federal Government when asked by Western Australia for assistance in maybe having a prosecution for animal exporters whether they have broken the law, the Fed’s response was, you will have to use FOI. Can you explain what’s going on?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: It’s somewhat extraordinary Leon. The Western Australian regulator has its own Act and its own powers to investigate what took place on the Awassi Express, that was the ship that featured on the 60 Minutes program. Now, understandably the WA Government doesn’t have a lot of faith in the Commonwealth regulator because you will recall that initially at least the Commonwealth regulator said nothing that took place on the Awassi breached the law. So the Western Australians are having their own look. Of course they have asked the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth regulator for information they require to round up their case and have been told by the Commonwealth that they’re not going to have access to it and if indeed they want it they are going to have to make an application under Freedom of Information Laws. Now this is so duplicitous. David Littleproud the Commonwealth Minister has been talking tough. He’s going to hunt down the bad guys and he’s going to put them in gaol etc, and now when the Western Australian Government is attempting to also pursue rogue operators, the Commonwealth is not interested in lending them any assistance.
BYNER: Now that’s the Shadow Minister. So let me get this straight, the Turnbull Government is refusing to provide Western Australian Government officials with information needed to investigate breaches under the Western Australian law. Western Australian officials have been told to pursue the information under Freedom of Information Laws.