The RSPCA has welcomed a Bill in the Senate to stop the suffering and ultimately end the cruelty of long-haul live sheep exports for good.
The Bill - which has been jointly introduced by Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and Derryn Hinch's Justice Party Senator Derryn Hinch – will reflect the scientific evidence that says live sheep exports from May to October must end immediately, and stocking density must be immediately halved, to protect animals from the most extreme suffering.
The Bill will also set out a plan to phase out the industry within five years, which is a generous timeframe to allow sheep producers to adjust, according to RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer, Dr Bidda Jones.
“RSPCA Australia was founded in 1980 specifically around the need to end the cruelty of the live export trade,” said Dr Jones.
“We’ve been fighting the horrific deaths and routine suffering caused by this industry for that long,
“The only thing more routine and predictable than the annual animal welfare disasters in the live sheep trade, have been the repeated promises of the industry to change, to reform, to improve,
“That has never happened, and the disasters just keep occurring because this is a business model built on sacrificing animal welfare for profits,
“It’s a business model that only survives by cramming sheep in at high stocking densities, in such large numbers, at all times of the year, regardless of the consequences,
“The live export industry simply can’t implement standards that meet community expectations and still make money, and they’ve told us that themselves,
“That is why this Bill is an historic moment in the live export debate. We now have a real chance of bringing the suffering to an end once and for all,
“We encourage Senators from all parties to come together to make this a reality. The science is there to support this and so too is the Australian community,
“And we equally welcome the plan for a similar Private Member’s Bill in the House of Representatives that has been earlier flagged by Liberal MP the Hon. Sussan Ley,” said Dr Jones.
Dr Jones also said sheep producers need to realise that the live export trade as they once knew it, is no more.
“The trade has plummeted on its own by 80% over the last 15 years or so – it is a dying industry in every sense of the word,” she said.
“Overwhelming, the community wants the live sheep trade to end. Independent polling we commissioned this month found 3 in 4 Australians want live animal exports to end, and that includes people throughout rural and country areas,
“We stand ready as always, to share the compelling facts and evidence that have informed our position,” said Dr Jones.
Dr Jones also said that while the Bill was a positive move, the slow pace of government processes meant it would be unlikely to protect sheep destined for the Middle East this year.
“To that end, we continue to await the results of the McCarthy review, which are due to be released any day, and which will have the potential to enforce change more quickly,
“The Minister has emphasised that his position will be based on the science and evidence, and we know what that science and evidence says, so we intend to hold him to his word,” said Dr Jones.
Tens of thousands of Australians are continuing to express their fury over live exports at liveexport.rspca.org.au/take-action