Both the Opposition and Federal Government are opposing calls for a total ban on live exports amidst the current scandal involving footage that shows thousands of sheep dying from heat exposure last year.
Animal activists in Australia and worldwide have called for an immediate ban against live shipments of livestock following the broadcast of footage that showed appalling conditions for sheep being transported from Freemantle (WA) to a city in the Middle East.
In the footage, ship workers can be seen throwing dead sheep into the ocean and several crowded pens were the animals were collapsed in their own faeces. Despite the outrage, it has been revealed the exporter implicated in the footage, Emanuel Exports, is planning to use the exact same ship this week.
The ship, the Awassi Express, is set to be used to transport 250 cattle and 65,000 sheep from Freemantle to a location in the Middle East. Since their initial announcement, Emanuel Exports has reduced the amount of sheep in the consignment to roughly 57,000 which is said to meet new welfare standards.
David Littleproud, the Federal Agriculture Minister, has met with animal activists in order to discuss the issue of live exports. He told news reporters that he wanted to “put a framework” as well as an “environment” in which “we can give comfort to the community”.
He said “that’s my job” and that he “can’t change the past” but that he wants the community the view his job with confidence. He went on to say that he didn’t care who was responsible for the abuses but that “I’ll make sure that they pay”.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said that the issue was “above politics”, indicating his intention to work with the Federal Government on the issue. Shorten has called for increased regulation of live exports but not a total ban.
Shorten said that he wanted to see the Government get “some of the shonks and cheats” within live exports.
Currently, the sheep that will be making the voyage are remaining in Perth until a final decision on the fate of the journey is made. Prior to this, the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) had banned the ship from transporting any livestock.
AMSA inspectors had refused to clear the ship until they had been satisfied the ventilation in the sheep pens had been improved. Once Emanuel Exports gets clearance from AMSA it will also need permission from the Department of Agriculture before setting course for the Middle East.