A push to end live sheep exports has suffered a major blow, with two country-based Liberal MPs abandoning a backbench rebellion after scoring promotions to the ministry.
Liberal MP Sussan Ley said ending the trade remained a matter of strong personal conviction, despite confirming she would shelve her private member’s bill.
Liberal Party rules prevent ministers from crossing the floor to vote against government policy, meaning Ms Ley and Liberal colleague Sarah Henderson can no longer support the legislation.
‘‘I can assure all who care deeply about this issue, I am working hard with my colleagues and remain fully committed to seeing the end of this awful trade,’’ Ms Ley posted to social media.
The private bill would have phased the trade out over five years, while also ending live sheep exports to the Middle East during next year’s Northern Hemisphere summer.
National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson welcomed the development, saying the industry needed to be supported under strict welfare conditions.