Australia restricts live sheep exports after scandal

Ceria Alfonso
May 17, 2018

VideoAnimals Australia has released shocking video of animal abuse on a live sheep export vessel to the Middle East past year.

The Australian government, which relies on the support on rural voters, rejected a ban on live exports as it would cause too much damage to the country's agricultural sector, Agricultural Minister David Littleproud said on Thursday.

"We saw the devastating effects of the ban on the livestock industry in 2011 and those effects were widespread", Fiona Simson, president of the National Farmers Federation, told reporters in Canberra.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan says she may move to restrict live sheep exports in the northern summer months, irrespective of the results of a Federal Government review of the trade.

And the opposition's agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, said Labor would stop the summer trade at the first opportunity, and phase out the wider industry over time.

Sussan Ley will continue to push for a ban on live sheep exports.

"The footage was disgraceful, but what you don't need to do is predicate your decisions on emotions and without facts, this was one exporter, one incident", Littleproud told reporters in Sydney.

The same is true of promises of more "independent observers" and a stiffening of the penalties to be imposed on companies, company directors and others who flout the regulations in order to maximise profits.

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Companies face fines of over $4 million, and directors either 10 years jail or $2 million dollars.

Independent observers will also be placed on export ships, but the RSPCA's Dr Bidda Jones argues that won't guarantee animals survive the journey.

Mr Littleproud said the new emphasis on animal welfare rather than animal mortality would be a "seismic shift" in the approach to stocking density.

"This is about setting a new course for live exports".

"If you leave a dog in a hot vehicle (in Australia) you are prosecuted and you potentially go to jail", said Lyn White from Animals Australia, the advocacy group that released the shocking video.

"We have got a responsibility to stay and get it right".

"What I can give the public a guarantee about is that it is a better system than we now have", Ms Simson said.

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