Live Animal Exports, Defence Security Authority Vetting

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:07): All in Australia want to ensure that in our live cattle export industry we put the wellbeing of animals to the forefront. We also want to make sure that Australia continues to provide employment in those areas in Australia that rely on the live cattle export. This attitude of the industry and, I think, all Australians is well exemplified in the passage quoted in the minister's ministerial statement from Mr Andrew Ogilvie, the President of the Cattle Council of Australia, when he said:

The CCA stands committed to working with Government and industry in assuring the welfare of Australian livestock, while maintaining a sustainable live export industry.

He said the export supply chain assurance system would assist in that.

It is an essential industry. It is very important to Northern Australia and to North Queensland, which I represent in this parlia_ment and look after on behalf of the federal opposition. It is perhaps the biggest non-mining industry in the north, and that is why the north was so devastated by the stupidity of Senator Ludwig in succumbing to an issue brought by a very vocal minority group. I do not attribute any mischief to them; they believe what they say, and I accept that. I do not think they follow the whole issue. Unfortunately, a government that relies on a hotchpotch of Independents to keep it in power reacts badly to these day-long crises. Senator Ludwig was completely incapable of dealing with the matter. He made the right decision, I might say, after seeing the Four Corners report: he put a temporary ban on. He was then pressured by the left of his party, the Greens and the animal welfare people, to make it a permanent ban and, in doing so, destroyed the livelihoods of many Australians, particularly those in Northern Australia.

There is not a lot of time, and I want to share the balance of the available time with my colleague from Western Australia Senator Eggleston, who also represents many of those working families in the Kimberley and the north of Western Australia who were devastated by the actions of the Gillard government. But I want to point out a couple of other issues in the limited time available to me. This statement is interesting. If you have a look at it, you see it is a statement by the 'Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig', and nothing else. Perhaps I am the first one to break that Senator Ludwig has lost his portfolio of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. One would have thought that, if he were still that ministerand who knows what happens in the Gillard govern_ment, where ministers and leaders change by the houra statement on live cattle export would be issued by the minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry. I wonder what the Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery has to do with the live cattle export from, effectively, Northern Australia. That in itself is interesting.

I appreciate that the Queensland Premier, in the throes of an election campaign, always thinks she gets value from being involved in natural calamities like floods and cyclones. I notice our Queensland Premier is out doing what she did a year ago: fronting the TVs and sort of acting as an emergency services director, seeking to again this year, as she did last year, attract votes because she is an on-the-spot Premier. I might say to Premier Bligh: I think that, if Queenslanders admired you last year, they have woken up to how a lot of your actions are more directed to vote winning and getting in the way of the emergency services personnel, who really have better things to do than look after the Queensland Premier involving herself in what are really professional emergency services matters.

I am pleased to see that at least the Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery has issued a media release on this, but I do question his competence in dealing with anything related to the live cattle export when we compare it with the fiasco that resulted from his last involvement in this area.

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