Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Australia restricts live sheep exports, but no Middle East ban

Australia restricts live sheep exports, but no Middle East ban

A report into the viability of the live sheep trade is recommending exporters reduce the number of animals on board by almost a third.

Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of livestock.

"Scientific advice from the Australian Veterinary Association tells us it is impossible to avoid animal deaths in the heat and humidity of a Middle East summer, regardless of lower density rates or moves towards better ventilation", Ms Ley told The Conversation.

Australia will require ships carrying live cattle and sheep exports to have an independent observer to ensure welfare standards, after 2,400 sheep died from heat stress, sparking calls for a ban on the A$1.3 billion industry.

Under the government's changes, sheep will be given up to 39 per cent more space on ships.

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.

"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.

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"Under this offence, a company would face a fine of whichever is greater - of $4.2 million, or 10 per cent of the company's annual turnover", Mr Littleproud has revealed. Among other measures, an independent regulator, with investigative power, will oversee the sector. "A director guilty could face 10 years' prison or a fine of $2.1 million".

"The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept", Mr Littleproud said.

"We support the future of the trade but there absolutely must be meaningful change", National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson said. "We have a responsibility to the animals, but also to our farmers".

Lyn White, director of strategy for Animals Australia, said instead of backing the science the government was allowing the industry to "inflict further suffering".

The spokeswoman said Gulf countries prefer importing livestock for religious reasons and the costs of transport, predicting chilled meats "will never be an alternative to live sheep in the region".

"We need to fix it, not ban it".

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