The live sheep trade is making waves again, but this time because of a stoush between two politicians from different sides of politics who agree the export industry should be phased out.
Earlier this year Liberal MP Sussan Ley went against the Coalition government support for live exports and proposed a private members bill to ban the industry.
Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon also supports a ban on live exports.
Today he accused Ms Ley of abandoning her bill following her promotion by new the Prime Minister to Assistant Minister for Regional Development.
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Ms Ley’s bill was referred to the Lower House by the Senate, where it remains a current item, but the Government has prevented it from going to a vote, and it remains on hold.
If it were debated, Ms Ley and Sarah Henderson, the second Liberal MP who supports a live export ban, could cross the floor and provide sufficient numbers to pass the legislation.
Ms Ley’s promotion to the ministry coincides with Ms Henderson’s promotion to Assistant Minister for Social Services.
Party policy says they would have to resign their ministerial position and move off the front bench to vote against the bill.
Ms Ley said today she had not “abandoned, dumped or shelved” her bill.
She referred to her statement last week, made after promotion, when she said ending live sheep exports was her “strong personal conviction” and that had not changed.
“Can I assure all who care deeply about this issue, I am working hard, with my colleagues and remain fully committed to seeing the end of this awful trade,” Ms Ley said.
With parliament to resume next week, Mr Fitzgibbon said he was sceptical about Ms Ley’s prospects of getting her bill to a vote in parliament.
Mr Fitzgibbon reiterated his commitment to phase out the trade. He plans to support the industry with transitional funding to boost onshore shep meat processing for export.
“Both members accepted a political promotion in the Morrison Government and will now argue their new positions deny them the opportunity to cross the floor,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“If Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson remain committed to progressing their live sheep export bill through the parliament then I’m very pleased.”