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Questions Asked In Parliament

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Extract from uncorrected Hansard [COUNCIL — Thursday, 20 September 2012] p44c-44c Hon Lynn MacLaren; Hon Peter Collier

LIVE SHEEP AND CATTLE EXPORTS

699. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Agriculture and Food:

(1) Can the minister confirm whether animals are on board a livestock vessel currently in Fremantle port awaiting export; and, if so, how long have they been on board?

(2) If yes to (1), what checks on the health and welfare of these animals have been made to date?

(3) What is the destination port for the Western Australian animals that are consigned to this livestock vessel and do the slaughterhouse practices there meet the stringent criteria established by the federal government in the wake of current controversies regarding cruelty in overseas abattoirs?

(4) If no animals are on board, can the minister identify the source of the animal stench in port?

(5) Since shipping of WA sheep and cattle consigned to live export is seemingly suspended, can they be processed here instead?

(6) With the live export industry falling apart, has the minister identified where Western Australian abattoirs are needed; and, if so, where?

(7) Will the minister take urgent steps to fortify the domestic processing industry?

(8) Has the minister directed his department or agencies to investigate alternative markets, such as the lucrative packaged halal meat exports?

The PRESIDENT: Once again, the length of that question stretches the boundaries of the word concise, I think. Hon PETER COLLIER replied: On behalf of Hon Robyn McSweeney, I thank the honourable member for this eight-part question.

(1) A vessel, the Ghena, which was loading cattle in Fremantle port on 19 September, sailed last night. Another vessel in Fremantle port, the Ocean Drover, without livestock on board, is due to begin loading sheep on 21 September 2012.

(2) The standard health and welfare checks required by the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock have been carried out.

(3) The Western Australian animals on board the vessel that sailed yesterday are consigned to various destination ports in the Middle East. From 1 September 2012, all livestock consigned to the Middle East for slaughter must comply with the federal government’s export supply chain assurance system.

(4) Please refer to the answer to (1).

(5) Live exports account for approximately 50 per cent of the total value of the sheep meat industry—live exports and local processing—in Western Australia. Live exports account for approximately 33 per cent of the total value of the Western Australian beef industry. The substitution of live exports with local processing has been extensively modelled, and the lowering of price, the increase in meat volumes produced and subsequent exit of producers from meat animal production would lead to negative economic impacts over the mid-term for WA. The notion of simple substitution does not take into account market, price and economic realities.

(6) Western Australia has sufficient abattoir space and a surplus of abattoir capacity at present. Current abattoir location primarily in the south west and great southern regions is appropriate. Private investment into the sector is occurring. The Western Australia government has co-funded with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation two studies into the feasibility of a northern Western Australian abattoir and defined that regions around Broome in the Kimberley represent the most favourable locations should an abattoir proceed.

(7) The processing industry, which is also an important part of the livestock sector, competes in an international and domestic marketplace and is very capable of capitalising on current opportunities for global demand for protein. The Department of Agriculture and Food and other Western Australian government agencies assist all applicants that approach them with establishment and expansion plans.

(8) The Department of Agriculture and Food actively supports industry to explore and capitalise on market options for red meat. Most export meat processing facilities in WA are already accredited to process for halal markets.

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