Minister pushes penalties for live exports
After a push to ban live sheep exports failed, the federal government has put the heat back on Labor to pass draft laws beefing up penalties for cruelty.
Responding to outrage over horrific sheep deaths earlier in the year, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud introduced legislation for tough new penalties for dodgy exporters.
The measures include jail terms of up to 10 years for company directors and individuals and fines ranging between $420,000 for individuals and $4.2 million for companies.
But the government stalled the legislation after Labor tacked on an amendment which would shut the industry down over five years.
On Monday, a push to debate a bill to phase out the trade and end voyages to the Middle East in the northern summer was quashed in the House of Representatives.
Now, Mr Littleproud is urging Labor to agree to pass the penalties legislation without amendments.
"It should accept that result and get out of our way as we increase penalties for live exporters doing the wrong thing," he said.
"Labor's live export games must end."
Liberal MPs Sarah Henderson and Sussan Ley both oppose the trade but their recent elevation to the frontbench forced them to vote with the government to shut down debate on the phase-out which passed the Senate.
Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused Ms Ley and Ms Henderson of abandoning their convictions in favour of taking up the "most junior positions" in the ministry.
"Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson when pushing their private members bill to give a federal phase-out gave very, very good and impassioned speeches" Mr Fitzgibbon told reporters on Tuesday.
"They need to stand by their convictions and return to their original positions on the phase-out.
"The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government's record on animal welfare is appalling."
Ms Ley and Ms Henderson maintain they are committed to ending live sheep exports, even if they can no longer vote against government policy without resigning from the ministry.
"Our personal conviction on this issue remains and we will continue to advocate for a change in coalition policy and for a phase-out of this awful trade," they said in a joint statement.
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