End­ing abuse

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Aus­tralia re­stricts live sheep ex­ports af­ter shock­ing treat­ment recorded on cargo ship.

SYD­NEY: 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$1.3bil (RM3.8bil) in­dus­try.

Aus­tralia will also in­tro­duce new leg­is­la­tion to pe­nalise any ex­porter that con­tra­venes new wel­fare stan­dards.

Un­der the pro­posal, a di­rec­tor of a com­pany could face 10 years prison or A$2.1mil (RM6.2mil) fine if the wel­fare stan­dards are not met.

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment, which re­lies on the sup­port of ru­ral vot­ers, re­jected a ban on live ex­ports as it would cause too much dam­age to the coun­try’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor, Agri­cul­tural Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud said yes­ter­day.

Lit­tleproud said the gov­ern­ment will in­stead re­duce the num­ber of sheep a ves­sel can carry dur­ing the sum­mer months by 28%, with in­de­pen­dent ob­servers on­board to en­sure wel­fare stan­dards are ad­hered to. The pol­icy comes as Aus­tralia at­tempts to stem pub­lic anger af­ter footage emerged show­ing 2,400 sheep dy­ing from heat stress on a ves­sel bound for the Mid­dle East last year.

“The footage was dis­grace­ful, but what you don’t need to do is predi- cate your de­ci­sions on emo­tions and with­out facts. This was one ex­porter, one in­ci­dent,” Lit­tleproud told re­porters in Syd­ney.

“By putting in­de­pen­dent ob­servers on all boats, it will erad­i­cate this type of be­hav­iour go­ing for­ward.”

An­i­mal rights group RSPCA Aus­tralia said the changes do not go far enough.

“What the min­is­ter has done is re­sponded to the eco­nomic in­ter- ests of the in­dus­try yet again,” said Bidda Jones, chief science and strat­egy of­fi­cer at RSPCA Aus­tralia.

“I think the pub­lic ex­pects an­i­mal wel­fare to be put ahead of eco­nomic in­ter­ests.”

Aus­tralia is one of the world’s largest ex­porters of live­stock. While the bulk of Aus­tralia’s meat ex­ports are pro­cessed, mar­kets such as the Mid­dle East and In­done­sia pre­fer to buy live an­i­mals. — Reuters

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