Live Animal Exports
Edited by Marc Eastmure
Recently, a documentary was aired on Channel Nine’s 60 minutes showing flocks of sheep exported to the Middle East being confined in oven-like storage spaces under high heat stress and food deprivation. As such, there has been significant public interest in the treatment of Australian export livestock, with Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud expressing his shock and outrage, demanding a report investigating the issue, and mitigating actions to be taken by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. On the other hand, the Labor Opposition has declared its commitment to ending the live animal export trade in favour of transitioning Australian farmers to meat processing
Live animal exports have always been a highly disputed issue in the Australian Parliament. Since 1985, a Senate Select Committee concluded evidence existed to stop the live animal trade if animal welfare grounds were the sole consideration. Since then, there have been several petitions to stop livestock exports.
Australia’s live animal export industry accounts to a total of 2.7% of Australian agricultural exports, generating $2 billion in annual revenue, and providing 10,000 jobs for rural and indigenous populations in Australia. This high international demand is due to the industry’s ability to provide high quality products that are free from disease. Major importers of Australian livestock include countries in the Middle East which provide post-export management activity subsidies, and Southeast Asian nations due to their close proximity to Australia.
Are the animal welfare concerns of live exporting unacceptable, or remediable?
Peta Australia, ‘Live exports: ‘shipping’s modern slave trade’,
Parliament of Australia, ‘Live exports: a chronology’
The Maritime Executive, ‘Ley argues her live sheep long haul export prohibition bill’
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, ‘Animal welfare, ESCAS and ASEL breeder animals'
Australian Live Exporters’ Council, ‘About ALEC - Economic Impact’
National Farmers’ Federation, ‘Support live exports'