Australia’s 23-24 Federal Budget has allocated A$5.6 million over two years to see through plans for the phase-out of live sheep export from Australia.
RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said the RSPCA, as Australia’s leading animal welfare authority, was particularly reassured to see this and A$1.2 million in funding for an Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. “Australians have made it clear time and again that animal welfare is important to them, and a thriving agricultural sector depends upon meeting the community’s expectations of good animal welfare,” he said.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) opposes the ban. ALEC CEO, Mark Harvey-Sutton, said earlier this year that the phase out policy was unwarranted and risked causing economic problems for Australia’s producers and their overseas trading partners.
“This is an industry that has reformed and supports thousands of workers in rural Western Australia.”
He says the industry’s trading partners continue to have a preference for livestock ahead of chilled and frozen meat.
More than 100 countries export live animals, and Australia is the only country that regulates international animal welfare standards from paddock to the point of slaughter.
However, in a recent article in The Veterinarian, spokesperson for Vets Against Live Export (VALE), Dr Sue Foster, notes that Australia’s standards are regularly breached. For example, breaches were reported on 75% of Middle East voyages that had an independent observer present. She notes ship movement, 24-hour lighting, noise, fecal bedding and heat stress as welfare issues that are inherent on the live sheep voyages that take over 20 days to reach the Middle East.
In 2018, footage from the Awassi Express (subsequently renamed the Anna Marra) showing sheep stuck in melted hot feces, suffering extreme heat stress and literally ‘cooking alive’ at sea sparked public outcry and renewed calls to end live export.