20 June 2011
RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia today welcomed proposed legislation to phase out the live export trade over the next three years.
The Bills, presented by independents Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon, reflect overwhelming public opposition to the live trade.
“This is a momentous day - our political representatives now have the opportunity to end the cruellest trade in Australia’s history,” said RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil.
“26 years ago a Senate Select committee on Animal Welfare concluded that if a decision was to be made on the future of the live trade purely on animal welfare grounds, there was enough evidence to stop it. Had previous governments acted, millions of animals would have been saved from suffering.
“While the cruelty inherent to the live trade merits an immediate ban, this three year phase out period should overcome all political concerns, as it provides producers time to transition away from live export.
“Importantly, this legislation ensures that during the phase out period animals can only be exported to facilities that meet appropriate welfare standards. Australians have shown over the past few weeks that they will not tolerate cruelty to Australian livestock and will demand nothing less than having their welfare protected during this period.”
More than160 million Australian animals have been exported over the past three decades to countries where there are no laws to protect them from cruelty. During that period 2.6 million animals have died en route. Those that have survived the journey have faced brutal handling and slaughter practices that would be illegal in Australia.
“Whilst the focus has been on the horrific treatment of cattle in Indonesia over the past three weeks, we should not forget that evidence of horrendous treatment of Australian sheep in the Middle East has been consistently presented to government over the past eight years,” said Animals Australia Cruelty Investigator Lyn White.
“As recently as last November, Animals Australia presented Minister Ludwig with further evidence of appalling treatment of Australian sheep in Kuwait. Despite industry claims of improvements in the region, terrible treatment of Australian livestock continues in all importing countries.
“Terrified animals during religious festivals are routinely trussed, dragged and thrown into car boots. But right throughout the year, the vast majority of Australian livestock in the Middle East are still having their throats cut while they are fully conscious.
“Australia’s live export trade will be condemned by history. The Gillard Government can be revered for ending the cruelty or remembered for allowing it to continue,” said Ms White.
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