Sussan Ley has been accused of selling out her convictions on live sheep exports for a promotion, as Labor went on the attack on Parliament’s first day back from a break.
The Farrer MP introduced a private members bill back in May, which would ban all sheep exports to the Middle East during July, August and September and see long-haul sheep exports phased out in five years.
But her promotion from the backbench to Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories in the recent reshuffle means she is no longer in a position to strike out against Coalition policy.
Labor then tried to bring on the vote in the House of Representatives, but did not have the numbers. Ms Ley did not cross the floor to vote with the opposition.
“Labor’s actions today were a disingenuous attempt to disrupt Parliament masquerading behind the cause of animal welfare,” she said in a statement.
“As members of the ministry, it is no longer open to us to support any private member’s bill or the bill passed by the Senate today.
“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.”
Earlier, Labor MPs questioned where Ms Ley now stands on the issue.
Opposition whip Graham Perrett said he had applauded Ms Ley and Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson for introducing the bill in May.
“Where are those members now?” he said.
“They appear to have sold out their convictions for their political promotions and put their own political welfare above animal welfare.
“They’ve chosen self-interest over doing the right thing by farmers and their livestock.”
He said the cruelty inflicted on sheep had to stop and it was time the government start phasing out a ban on exports.
“We shouldn’t just back this when it is political convenient, we need to back this piece of legislation because it is the right thing to do,” he said.
Ms Ley denied she had abandoned her push to ban live sheep exports.
The government is due to receive a report this week, following an independent review by Philip Moss into the regulation of live animal exports.
He is looking into whether exporters meet Australia’s high animal welfare standards and identifying possible improvements for the government to consider.
“We remain committed to seeing the end of long-haul live sheep exports and look forward to the Moss review further challenging the regulatory basis of the trade,” Ms Ley said.
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