The live sheep export industry is unwilling and unable to reform, and must be prevented from inflicting further animal cruelty and damage to our international reputation and Australia’s farming future.
That’s the damning response from the RSPCA today as yet more evidence is revported of overcrowded Australian sheep suffering and dying on the Maysora, which left Fremantle last week in the midst of the current live export scandal.
Western Australian Government officials, who boarded the vessel under warrant after they were refused access by the live export company, reportedly found:
· Sheep crammed in and so overcrowded they couldn’t lie down without being trampled,
· Sheep already unable to access food and water,
· Water troughs empty and heavily contaminated with faeces,
· Sheep loose outside of pens, and dead sheep already visible.
Even more shockingly, this evidence was reportedly found at the height of the current scandal, and before the ship had even departed on its 3-4 week voyage to the Middle East.
“It could not be clearer now, that the live export industry has a callous disregard for our animal welfare laws and standards, and the regulator is impotent to act,” said RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones.
“These companies are treating the regulator like a doormat, and it seems the Department is used to letting the live exporters walk all over it,
“That we would still see such horrific conditions while the industry is under such intense scrutiny, under inspection by our government, and before the ship has even left port in Australia – it almost defies belief,
“And yet, this isn’t surprising, from an industry that has shown such deliberate arrogance and recklessness for so long, and a regulator that is so captured by its own support for the trade,” said Dr Jones.
“Once again, we see the proof that this is a business that profits off animal cruelty. They make their money by placing Australian animals to suffer in unacceptable conditions,” she said.
The Maysora is operated by Livestock Shipping Services, and has been linked to its own timeline of tragedy.
“It’s now acutely clear that the horror footage we’ve seen over the past few weeks really is what business as normal looks like in live sheep exports,
“We now have independent evidence from multiple sources across multiple ships and multiple export companies – the truth can no longer be denied,
““There is a deep-rooted culture in this industry of normalised animal cruelty and where suffering is built into its business model, said Dr Jones.
“There can be no more chances for an industry that has proven beyond doubt that it has no intention of reform,
“The only solution now for the federal government is to stop any more ships from leaving Australia with animals on board, and to start talking about a transition package for farmers,” said Dr Jones.
While the nation was still reeling from the shocking footage taken on the Awassi Express, the Maysora was travelling to Fremantle with a cargo of 35,000 sheep loaded in Adelaide. It left Fremantle before dawn on 12 April fully loaded and with no changes to the conditions of animals on board.
The RSPCA last week called for the release of any on-board evidence from the Maysora, after learning WAFF President Tony York and PGA President Tony Seabrook were part of a group that viewed the conditions on board before the vessel left early last Thursday morning.
Australians can take action at liveexport.rspca.org.au/take-action