Live sheep exports will not be banned despite animal welfare concerns

Live sheep exports will not be banned despite animal welfare concerns
Photo: Onepony, Bigstock

There won’t be any ban on live exports of sheep to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere’s summer in 2018. David Littleproud, the Federal Agriculture Minister, is set to release the independent review into the industry today.

It has been confirmed that over the summer occurring in the northern hemisphere there won’t be any bans on the live export of sheep despite the concerns of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the RSPCA that there was no mechanism to protect sheep from heat stress that is often fatal.

The independent review was set up by the Government following the release of shocking video that showed hundreds of sheep dying of heat stress during a voyage from Perth to Freemantle in 2017. Despite the personal outrage from Mr Littleproud, it appears that the promise that the video would not lead to a ban will be kept.

Labor recently called for a complete ban on the industry, saying that the industry was no longer viable.

The disturbing images of dead and dying sheep prompted a widespread outcry for an end to live exports, at least during the hottest months of the year.

However, the live sheep trade is worth approximately $249 million AUD each year and employs a great deal of Australian farmers. Emanuel Exports, a major live sheep exporter, agreed to the government’s demands for an independent authority to board and accompany live exports as well as provide a 17.5% increase of space for the animals.

The shocking video footage that prompted the renewed debate on live exports was filmed on an Emanuel Exports shipment in which 2,400 sheep died. Mr Littleproud and animal rights groups expressed that the conditions the sheep were being transported in were unacceptable.

In its own submission to the independent review, the AVA recommended that there be a temporary hold on live exports during the northern summer months between May and October and that the space for sheep be expanded to 30% more. It has been noted that air conditioning for the livestock is not an option.

However, those who export livestock for a living say that a suspension of a trade during the north summer would destroy Australia’s competitiveness and make other nations view Australia as unreliable. Matt Canavan, a Nationals frontbencher, said that the Government needs to be careful about how it handles the industry and not make Labor’s mistake seeking a “kneejerk” ban.