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Australians have tonight been shocked by never-seen-before footage, documenting the routine conditions and appalling suffering Australian sheep are facing on board live export vessels.

The distressing evidence, provided by a brave whistle-blower and aired on 60 Minutes tonight shows five routine long-haul voyages loaded to Australian standards, below usual stocking densities and with a vet on board.

Yet as conditions rapidly deteriorate, countless sheep crammed into pens are seen suffering and dying slowly and painfully due to inescapable heat and humidity, injury, lack of access to food and water, and with apparently no veterinary attention.

Sheep and lambs battle to stand during rough seas and buried in mounting levels of manure and waste; and at least one sheep that’s clearly alive is thrown overboard.

RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones said this horrifying evidence shows Australians for the first time exactly what a routine long-haul voyage for around 2 million sheep every year looks like.

“This footage is gruesome. It is stomach-turning. To watch Australian sheep being left to collapse, die and decompose, with no attempt made to alleviate their suffering, is truly sickening,” said Dr Jones.

“And it’s all happened under our watch. Under conditions that had been deemed by the Australian Government as meeting Australian standards. Standards that the industry repeatedly describes as ‘world best practice’,” she said.

“We’ve been concerned about the death and suffering associated with live exports for decades, but this is the first time we have irrefutable proof of what the live export industry has kept hidden, 

“Once again, Australian farmers have been gravely let down. The live export industry’s social licence to operate is  in tatters and this shocking evidence will damage Australian agriculture more broadly unless real action is taken,

“In the light of this evidence, we believe that the Australian Government, through the Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, has a legal obligation not to give further long-haul voyages a green light,

“While no sheep farmer relies completely upon live exports, we would support government support for farmers, to make any adjustments they need to move away from live exporting their animals,” said Dr Jones. 

“We must stop this suffering by moving to ensure all sheep destined for long-haul live export are slaughtered right here in Australia,

“Farmers, governments and the community have been deceived by live exporters for long enough - but now the truth is out in the open, there can be no more excuses,” she said.

Australians can take action at liveexport.rspca.org.au/take-action

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