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Historic moment as Bill to end live sheep export introduced by the Albanese Government

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  • RSPCA Australia
  • Thursday, 30 May 2024

The RSPCA has welcomed the introduction today of a Bill in the Lower House of the Australian Parliament to phase out the live export of sheep.

“The science supporting this position is clear and irrefutable. Today’s motion follows years of this scientific evidence that prove that sheep undoubtedly suffer in live export, both on the lengthy sea voyages and in the country of destination,” said RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell.

“Year on year, sheep in live export continue to suffer and die in their thousands from the serious, repeated and cumulative impacts of transport stress, searing heat and stifling humidity, overcrowding, hunger, increased risk of succumbing to disease and infection, risk of injury, as well as the risk of being slaughtered fully conscious at their overseas destination.

“Animal welfare is important to the Australian community, and over the course of this dark history of repeated disasters, the Australian community has turned irrevocably against this outdated practice. Multiple polls, petitions, surveys and public rallies continue to demonstrate the public’s will to see an end to live sheep export — including independent polling that consistently finds around 7 in 10 West Australians support the current government’s policy, a figure that is consistent nationally.

“Over the past five decades, multiple Parliamentary inquiries and independent reports have been undertaken — today the Government have made the right call and drawn a line, taking decisive action that will finally see an end to a trade plagued with disasters.

“And it is literally a dying trade. From up to 4.5 million sheep per year in the early noughties, live export numbers have already plummeted to just over 485,000 in 2022 — and that was with the full support of successive federal governments.

“Meanwhile exports of meat from sheep humanely slaughtered in Australia have continued to skyrocket. Australia’s sheep meat exports are now valued at $4.5B — almost 60 times the value of live export ($76.9M). Sheep meat exports also surpassed wool in 2019-2020 as the most valuable export of Australia’s sheep industry. This is where the future lies, and where the Australian Government’s support for producers to move on from live export to these better, more sustainable alternatives is rightly focused.

“The RSPCA, and indeed the majority of Australians, look forward to the final passing of this legislation and the day the last live sheep export ship sails from Australia, before the definitive end date of 1 May 2028,” said Mr Mussell.

“Live sheep export is cruel, unfixable and unsustainable, and Australia can do better,” he said.

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