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Live Animal Exports

The problem with animal welfare related to live animal exports will not be resolved by banning Australian live animal exports. The problem resides in the countries importing the animals. Those countries have a demand for meat. Whether they get it from Australia or elsewhere does not change how they treat animals. If Australia bans live animal exports to those countries they will find a different market to purchase their animals from. In fact I think the best way for us to help improve animal welfare is by continuing to do business with these nations. That way we have an ongoing interface with their industry. We have leverage to help encourage them to change. Banning exports is tantamount to putting our heads in the sand. The result is less business for Australia and no change to animal welfare.

I don’t claim to have the answer to this issue, but whatever the potential answers may be, I implore the government to avoid repeating the knee-jerk reaction seen with the cattle industry in 2011. The sudden banning of live cattle exports to Indonesia was irresponsible and foolish. Allowing cattle to suffer and die in Australian pastoral land is not good for animal welfare. Further, the knee-jerk reaction was devastating to the businesses involved in the cattle export industry. The current Labor government has a history of suddenly changing the rules on business, mostly through the introduction of new taxes such as the mining tax and the carbon tax, which only serve to help offset their addiction to spending and inability to manage the budget. Sudden changes to the rules on business is extremely poor government policy. The perception of an uncertain business environment leads to deteriorating business investment and a deteriorating economy.

Whatever the changes are to policies that may come about from the latest incident with sheep in Pakistan, they need to be developed slowly and carefully, with consultation to all stakeholders. Of course, unlike the case for banning of cattle exports to Indonesia, potential consequences of any policy changes need to be carefully considered. Negative consequences need to be addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders before proceeding with change. Change needs to be deployed slowly to allow business to adjust. Knee-jerk reactions must be avoided.

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