Expanded crossbench puts live sheep export ban back on agenda

Expanded crossbench put live sheep export ban back on agenda


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Tough talk: Dr Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Adam Bandt address the media at Parliament House today. Photo by Dominic Lorrimer.

Tough talk: Dr Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Adam Bandt address the media at Parliament House today. Photo by Dominic Lorrimer.

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Crossbench MPs call for Coalition MPs to cross the floor

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A ban on live sheep exports is back on the agenda as the swollen ranks of federal crossbench MPs and Senators outline their agenda for parliament’s final sitting week of the year.

Following Liberal MP Julia Banks’ defection to the crossbench, and Kerryn Phelps’ victory in Malcolm Turnbull’s former electorate of Wentworth, the Coalition now command 73 votes in Parliament, plus Speaker Tony Smith.

Under parliament’s rules, Labor and the crossbench require an absolute majority of 76 votes out of a total of 150 to bring on a vote on a bill, not just a majority of votes present on the day.

Labor has 69 votes because two of its MPs are overseas on secondment to the United Nations and have been paired with the government.

I would like to see some progress on the live sheep export issue - Dr Kerryn Phelps

This morning at Greens MP Adam Bandt, independent MPs Kerryn Phelps and Andrew Wilkie, as well as Senator Derryn Hinch held a joint press conference outlining their agenda for the next week, parliament's final sitting of the year.

Collectively, they said they would push to establish a national integrity commission, remove children from immigration detention on Nauru, take action on climate change and ban live sheep exports.

“I think we have an important agenda for next week in Parliament,” Dr Phelps said.

“I would like to see the medical transfer of children and adults on the basis of medical and psychiatric need progressed to the point where it actually happens early next week.

“I would be supporting any action on climate change and any policy that we can bring forward to progress that issue.

“I would also like to see some progress on the live sheep export issue and the national integrity commission.”

Mr Wilkie said he will re-table his bill to phase out animal exports next week, but conceded he would need Coalition MPs to cross the floor to force a vote.

“We need an absolute majority to suspend standing orders and bring business on that the government does not approve of,” Mr Wilkie said.

“With Jenny Macklin and overseas that means we need all seven on the crossbench plus at least one government backbencher. If it is something that Bob Katter will not support then we would need two people to support us. It is hard.”

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It is unclear how each crossbench MP will vote, or if any Coalition MPs are willing to cross the floor.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter is a strong supporter of live sheep exports, and live cattle exports are a major industry in his Far North Queensland electorate.

There are Liberal MPs who want to ban live sheep exports, but they have been neutralised with Ministerial promotions.

In May, Farrer MP sussan Ley introduced a private members bill to ban the industry. She was supported by Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson.

In September Ms Ley was promoted to Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Ms Henderson to Assistant Minister for Social Services.

Liberal’s policy says an MP must resign a ministerial position, and move off the front bench, to vote against party policy.

Senator Hinch said he would sponsor a Bill to ban live exports in the Senate, which has previously voted in favour of banning the industry.

“I first bought my proposition to ban live export years ago when 30,000 Victorians voted in favour of it. That was nearly four years ago,” Senator Hinch said.

“The fact is we are now getting close. As I said in the Senate yesterday afternoon, we are coming to get you and it will happen. That is my pledge.”

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