Green Party grouch Sue Kedgley – having asked at Question Time how New Zealand will benefit from any resumption of live sheep exports for slaughter in Saudi Arabia – was told the live animal export trade last year was worth a billion dollars to the Australian economy.
David Carter, our Minister of Agriculture, said it’s clear that in these challenging times this trade is a potential—he repeated the word “potential”—economic opportunity for our farmers.
But regardless of the cash that might flow our way, Kedgley is bothered that the exporting will be done by folk from the Middle East. Arabs.
Sue Kedgley: Is it not the case that at the moment just one Saudi exporter is seeking resumption of the trade; and why would the Government risk ruining New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible agricultural exporter so that a Saudi-owned company can send sheep on a traumatic, three-week sea journey, only for them to be slaughtered at the end of their nightmare voyage?
Hon DAVID CARTER: The negotiations on continuing the trade with Saudi Arabia began approximately 4 years ago, under the previous Labour Government. No timetable is set for the completion of those negotiations. The fact is that the export of livestock for slaughter will not happen unless this Government is totally satisfied that the highest animal welfare and safety standards are met.
The Nats’ Colin King asked what was the Government’s primary focus in relation to the issue of live animal exports, to which he was told:”Very simply, animal welfare.”
This Government inherited the negotiations from the Clark Gang, and Carter said he had made it clear to officials that his overriding concern in even considering this issue…
is ensuring that the most stringent standards of animal welfare and safety are met, both during transportation and upon arrival. Unless these standards can be absolutely guaranteed, I have no appetite whatsoever for resuming these exports.
The Government was demanding “extraordinarily high standards of animal welfare and safety before we consider the resumption of live exports” and
I would be the first to acknowledge that it might be difficult for some countries to meet these conditions. But let me make it very clear: we are not prepared to compromise, and that may mean this trade never resumes.
So has any timetable been set for the resumption of live sheep exports?
Carter answered no.
Despite the scaremongering and hysteria of the Greens, absolutely no timetable has been set. The Greens should be ashamed to suggest otherwise. These negotiations have been continuing for 4 years, and no timetable is set for their completion.
But clearly, there is potential for economic benefit to the New Zealand sheep farmer, “if the conditions I have spoken about today can be satisfied.”
Will those assurances mute the bleats from Kedgley?
She’s bloody imposible, so it’s bloody unlikely.