SUBJECTS: Live exports; Independent Inspector General of Animal Welfare and Live Exports.
HAMISH MACDONALD: A short time ago we spoke to Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon. Joel thanks for joining us. Within the last few hours Bill Shorten has announced a pretty significant shift in Labor’s position on this. Exactly what is it and what are you calling for?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Well as you know I have tried very hard to secure a bipartisan approach to this crisis. Why? Because I want deep and meaningful reform, long-lasting reform. We don’t want future Governments overturning the decisions of previous Government. If you are going to get deep and meaningful reform you really do need the major parties working together. But we have grown impatient and of course the broader community is growing more impatient. The Minister now – and he has been cooperative the Minister, I have to say – but he now has three reviews running and they will report in June, in August and mid next year. We just think that’s not good enough.
CARRIE BICKMORE: Joel we just heard some of the figures around how many animals do die on these journeys. What do you think is an acceptable figure for the amount of animals to be lost on a journey?
FITZGIBBON: Well I don’t think this measure they call the mortality rate is a fair measure of animal welfare. What they are saying is that on a typical voyage if 1500 sheep die, it’s okay, but if 2500 die it’s not okay. But what about the other 55,000 sheep that suffered for many weeks not being able to access water?
MACDONALD: I’m just confused though about the timing of this. You say a decision needs to be made sooner, but we are talking about the summer months in the Middle East, right? A decision from this review will come down by May, which is before the start of the summer in that part of the world. I really don’t understand why you are taking this position?
FITZGIBBON: Because the community is demanding a Government take action. And that’s when the review -
MACDONALD: Sure but the Government is taking action by having this review. It will give its advice by May. Surely the Government can then make a decision according to the outcomes of that review in time for the summer months.
FITZGIBBON: David Littleproud announced today he would look at our Inspector General through a second review. That review doesn’t report until August and the ASEL Review, that is the review into the standards, won’t report until mid 2009 (sic). The community is growing impatient, we are growing impatient, we are trying to give the Government some guidance. We are saying you don’t really need to wait for that review to start taking some action on the northern summer trade and of course stocking rates, stocking densities would be a very good place to start.
MACDONALD: Joel Fitzgibbon, we will leave it there. Thank you very much.
FITZGIBBON: A great pleasure.