Live ex­ports head­wind

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

There’s no point com­plain­ing about the footage . . . it wouldn’t ex­ist if the con­di­tions on the boat were good for those sheep DAVID LIT­TLEPROUD

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was made aware of the heat stress is­sues in the live ex­port of sheep seven years ago, but did noth­ing to im­ple­ment any changes to the guide­lines.

This week fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud an­nounced the fourth re­view into the ex­port of live­stock in seven years.

He called for a four-week re­view of Aus­tralian Stan­dards for the Ex­port of Live­stock for live sheep head­ing to the Mid­dle East dur­ing the north­ern hemis­phrere sum­mer.

Out­rage erupted af­ter ma­te­rial pro­vided by An­i­mals Aus­tralia, al­legedly show­ing footage from sev­eral trips to the Mid­dle East in 2016 and 2017, screened on Sunday. It in­cluded a voy­age in Au­gust last year by Emanuel Ex­port’s ship Awassi Ex­press, where 2400 sheep died of heat stress.

A re­view of the ex­port stan­dards, an­nounced last Au­gust, has started and is ex­pected to re­port as early as June.

“I’ve been min­is­ter for three months, I can­not change the past, but I aim to in­flu­ence the fu­ture,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

The Awassi Ex­press was pre­par­ing to leave Fre­man­tle this week for the Mid­dle East but it must meet new re­quire­ments be­fore set­ting sail.

The is­sues with ex­port­ing of sheep live from Aus­tralia in the sum­mer heat have been high­lighted in two re­views.

It was flagged in a 2011 re­view, which rec­om­mended a com­pre­hen­sive look at the stan­dard, fo­cus­ing on sheep go­ing to the Mid­dle East.

The La­bor gov­ern­ment at the time ac­cepted the find­ing

We’ve known for years that the worst of­fend­ers are th­ese sheep ships trav­el­ling to the Mid­dle East

AN­DREW WILKIE Fed­eral MP for Deni­son

and draft changes were handed down but a change of gov­ern­ment saw the re­port ef­fec­tively shelved.

The new re­view fol­lowed a call by Western Aus­tralia’s Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter, La­bor’s Alan­nah MacTier­nan, for ur­gent changes to live ex­ports.

“We se­ri­ously have to con­sider ban­ning sheep go­ing into the Mid­dle East in those high sum­mer months,” she said.

The Aus­tralian Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion said the stan­dards were in­suf­fi­cient to pro­tect sheep bound for the Mid­dle East, es­pe­cially in sum­mer.

An Agri­cul­ture De­part­ment re­port showed 63,804 sheep last Au­gust man­aged by Emanuel Ex­ports had a mor­tal­ity rate of 3.79 per cent. Any deaths above 2 per cent must be re­ported to the de­part­ment.

On Monday, Mr Lit­tleproud launched a sep­a­rate re­view into the in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor – his own De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources – af­ter rais­ing con­cerns the mor­tal­ity re­port they filed did not match the vi­sion.

“There’s no point com­plain­ing about the footage. The footage wouldn’t ex­ist if the con­di­tions on the boat were good for those sheep,” he said.

Mr Lit­tleproud also an­nounced an anony­mous phone line for whistle­blow­ers and pos­si­bly in­creased penal­ties for ex­porters who breached the guide­lines.

A Pe­ga­sus Eco­nomic re­port, com­mis­sioned by An­i­mals Aus­tralia, found no ev­i­dence to sug­gest live ex­ports un­der­write do­mes­tic sheep prices.

It found end­ing the trade of live sheep out of Western Aus­tralia would cost that state’s sheep farm­ers $9 mil­lion a year, less than $2000 each.

Sheep Pro­duc­ers Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Al­lan Pig­gott said some WA pro­duc­ers had said they would no longer be sup­ply­ing an­i­mals for live ex­ports.

Aus­tralian Live­stock Ex­porters’ Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon West­away said the footage showed more needed to be done to re­duce risks dur­ing ex­port to the Ara­bian Gulf.

The RSPCA said it was clear the stan­dards had failed and re­newed its call to shut down live ex­ports It said it would back gov­ern­ment sup­port for farm­ers who moved away from live ex­ports.

An­drew Wilkie, in­de­pen­dent Fed­eral MP for Deni­son, called for an im­me­di­ate end to the “vile trade” of live ex­ports.

“We’ve known for years that the worst of­fend­ers are th­ese sheep ships trav­el­ling to the Mid­dle East, on which an­i­mal fa­tal­i­ties are of­ten way be­yond gov­ern­ment stan­dards and records,” Mr Wilkie said.

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Skillern said Tas­ma­nian sheep had not been ex­ported live for many years.

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