LIVE sheep exports has suddenly emerged as a political issue in Corangamite, with incumbent Liberal MP Sarah Henderson breaking ranks to support an attempt to stop the practice and Labor challenger Libby Coker accusing her opponent of being “all talk and no action”.
Interest in the issue has soared nationally since graphic footage was aired on TV last month of a transport ship on which about 2,400 sheep died.
An inquiry into the live sheep trade is ongoing, but on May 2, Labor promised to phase out the practice if it came to government.
Eight days later, Ms Henderson announced she would second Sussan Ley’s private member’s bill (which Ms Ley first raised in April) to phase out long haul live sheep exports, and that the bill would be introduced into the House of Representatives on Monday, May 21.
“The live export of sheep to the Middle East is inhumane and must come to an end,” Ms Henderson said.
“As a rural Victorian Liberal MP representing a large farming constituency, I believe the vast majority of my constituents, including farmers, will strongly support my decision.
“If any person in Australia crammed sheep into a transport vehicle for 25 days in the searing heat with limited access to food and water, standing in their own excrement, that person would be charged with animal cruelty.
“I recognise that (Agriculture) Minister (David) Littleproud is working extremely hard to fix this trade; but enough is enough.”
In response, Ms Coker said that Labor would return stronger animal welfare provisions across the live animal trade if the party won the next election.
“I will always fight against cruelty to animals, regardless of vested interests. My personal view is that any live animal industry that repeatedly does not conform to basic welfare provisions cannot be allowed to continue.
“In contrast, Sarah Henderson has backed the cruel live animal trade time and time again, and not once has she voted against it.”