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Last year 21,000 Australian sheep were brutally killed in Pakistan (seen here on ABC’s Four Corners) after being rejected from their original destination in Bahrain. Today, Australians will be shocked to learn that an official government investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has resulted in no repercussions for the exporter involved and no action to prevent such a disaster from re-occurring.

The animals were unloaded from the Ocean Drover in Pakistan by exporter Wellard Rural Exports after they were rejected from their original destination, Bahrain. This rejection was not disclosed to Pakistan authorities by either the exported or by the Australian government.

“It is unclear exactly why Bahrain rejected these sheep, but failing to disclose this information to the Pakistan government proved catastrophic and what ensued was some of the worst cruelty ever encountered in the live export trade,” said RSPCA Australia CEO, Heather Neil.

RSPCA Australia said the DAFF report has failed to address key questions, including why Pakistan was not informed of the rejection by Bahrain, why the sheep were rejected in the first place, and how Pakistan could have been considered a legitimate contingency plan for the exporter when it was not approved to take Australian animals when the Ocean Drover left Australia.

“The rejection alone should have in itself sparked a full investigation”, said Ms Neil.

“It was the 2003 Cormo Express incident, where 57,000 sheep rejected by Saudi Arabia were stranded in the Persian Gulf for 2 months, which led to the development of written agreements (MOUs) with some importing countries; the introduction of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock; and a requirement for contingency plans in the case of future import disagreements.

“The 2011 exposure of appalling cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs led to the development of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Program, which was supposed to prevent the type of horrors witnessed in Pakistan.

“The rejection by Bahrain shows that the MOUs are not worth the paper they are written on. The disaster in Pakistan shows that our regulations cannot prevent cruelty in importing countries. And today we learn that even when the government has the power to investigate and prosecute exporters when breaches occur, they have failed to do so. 

“Live export is a senseless trade – from both an animal welfare and economic perspective – and planning for a future without it is in the best interests of Australian animals and a sustainable livestock industry in this country.”

Media contact: Elise Meakin 0419 748 907

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