Debate on divisive sheep ban bill to start

Karen Sweeney
Turnbull government backbencher Sussan Ley will introduce a bill to phase out live sheep exports

The federal government will be under pressure to make a move on live sheep exports when former cabinet minister Sussan Ley introduces a bill to have the controversial practice stopped.

Ms Ley's private member's bill to phase out the practice will be introduced to parliament next Monday.

She's already got the support of backbench colleagues Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood, both of whom have country electorates.

WA Liberal Ian Goodenough has also raised concerns.

Labor's policy is to phase out the live trade, but leader Bill Shorten won't say whether his party would back Ms Ley's bill.

He said on Friday the viability of an industry that relies upon cruelty must be questioned but any transition away must look after farmers, and "constructive" talks were underway with Ms Ley about her proposal.

The Greens and independent senator Derryn Hinch are drafting a bill of their own calling for live sheep exports to be wound down.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is expecting the findings of a review into the northern hemisphere summer trade later this week.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tried to talk Ms Ley out of introducing her bill, while former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has pointed to the damaging 2011 suspension of live cattle exports by the then Labor government as a reason to oppose the ban.