Liberal MP Sussan Ley looks unlikely to have the numbers to be successful in her bid to ban the live sheep trade with at least one crucial crossbencher ruling out his support for her private members bill.
In an unsurprising move, KAP leader and Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, has confirmed that he would “definitely be voting no”.
Despite the backing of Federal Labor, Ms Ley would currently need another 10 MPs to support her bill - a scenario with zero chance of playing out, many insiders say.
Mr Katter said he had hoped Federal Labor would have learned from “their mistakes”, referring to the impact of the 2011 ban on live cattle exports on primary producers.
“The live cattle ban halved the price of cattle in this country,” he said.
Mr Katter also said he was disappointed by the recommendations made in the McCarthy review last week.
“I think the restrictions are excessive in the extreme and would do untold damage to the trade. I’d rather spend the money on real time video surveillance or on placing an inspector on each boat,” he said.
“Prevention is a thousand times better than punishment.”
Meanwhile, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon has been busy doing the numbers, arguing they could get close to the magic figure of 76, if successful in the three upcoming lower house byelections.
“If Labor can restore its numbers to 69 and you work on the basis that Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson (will support the bill).. two of them would take us to 71 and if we have three cross-benchers, with 74 we are close to the 76 we need to form an absolute majority and therefore suspend Standing Orders in the House,” he told a press conference on Monday.
Mr Fitzgibbon said a number of Liberal back-benchers had approached him expressing real concern about the northern summer live sheep trade and indicated they were considering supporting the private members bill.
“Obviously I am not in a position to name them, but I expect that support will grow,” he said.
“It is clear out there in the Australian community that the Government’s response to the 60 Minutes report hasn’t anywhere near gone close to meeting community expectations.”
A spokesperson for the Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, who is currently in the Middle East, said the Minister respected Ms Ley’s right to put forward a bill but was focused on the implementing the recommendations of the McCarthy report.
“We are following Dr McCarthy’s recommendations. We’re implementing the best science available,” he said.