Questions without notice (take note of answers) - live animal exports
I also rise to speak with regard to the questions asked of Senator Ludwig on the live cattle trade. I agree with Senator Stephens that there is broad agreement on both the complexity of the problem and resolving the problem. It is very, very important, in order for the Australian people to understand and to fully support this matter, that the facts are provided. The Senate provides a great opportunity for the minister to provide the facts. Sadly, we ended up with him berating Senator Boswell for his questions, simply answering again and again, 'I've told you what the Australian government is going to do.' Senator Boswell's questions highlighted the fact that, in eight days time, the June quarter licences that are provided not by the Australian government but by the Indonesian government, are due, and what is their view about reissuing those? It is an absolutely fundamental point that I know the industry is dying to hear. But again, I would take the opportunity to commend Senator Ludwig in a very difficult circumstance. I am not sure who persuaded him to move away from his first decision, which everybody agreed was a good one, to a decision to unilaterally suspend the trade. If they were to look back, I am sure that they would have done it somewhat differently.
Australia and New Zealand signed the G20 accord, which has a number of provisions in it. One of the provisions relates to the sanctioning of another nation. Both Indonesia and Australia are signatories to the G20 and there are a series of processes about consultation and negotiation when you sanction another country. In the roar of dust and saddles in all this, we may not have seen it that way, but Indonesia absolutely surely see this as a sanction against their country, and apparently none of the usual protocols were met. There is much speculation in the media that this has now become a very tense diplomatic issue, and I suspect it is because of the way that that decision was made.
I think there is somebody who can raise the bar, if you like, in Indonesia about these diplomatic issues. I would encourage Mr Rudd to put down his knife and pick up his passport. I am quite sure that his intervention in these matters would be very helpful.
Everybody acknowledges that we need a full through process that is accredited and trackable today. For some time we have had a process where 10,000 cattle have NLIS tags on them. There is no question about traceability. We have ships that have absolutely no problem. They have been approved to the highest standards of IALA. We then move to the feedlots in Indonesia, which have in fact been passed to an international standard—ISO 2001. It is not some vague international welfare standard; this is a standard that is independently audited and is well known throughout the business world. But that happens today.
We have the minister and others standing up in this place saying, 'All we have to do is get this in place.' That is that point. The industry is saying it is in place. We need to move ahead for those places that can guarantee the Australian people that the animals will get treated according to a standard that is acceptable to a series of OIE standards, and I suspect the standards I am talking about exceed those.
We need to start the trade. We need to recommence the trade, because it is not going to threaten the trade in the long term. It is only starting the trade to those places that guarantee all the things that the Australian people and the Indonesian people have been asking for—that is, a through process guarantee that the welfare standards will be adhered to. That is there and available today. What the members of the coalition and, I suspect, many Australian people want to know is: why don't they simply act? This inaction is gutting Australian families, businesses and communities across the Top End. I get calls every day. Yes, I have this email trail that is exactly the same letter—they could have got two or three different ones. I can tell you that it is a desperate act when a family rings a politician in the middle of the night. I can tell you this is completely a reflection of the absence of the intellect that needs to be provided to this issue by the government.
Question agreed to.