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The RSPCA said the latest shocking images of sheep cruelty aired on the ABC’s 7.30 tonight are further proof live sheep export is inherently cruel and unfixable, and reiterated its call to legislate an end date this term of Parliament.

Meanwhile, a Parliamentary petition to lock in the end of the practice has been signed by almost 26,000 Australians, and is currently the largest open petition by far as well as being in the top 45 most supported e-petitions of all time.

“We have no doubt that Australians will, once again, be horrified by this latest footage showing the failures of the live export supply chain – just as they have been horrified so many times before,” said RSPCA Australia Chief Science Officer Dr Suzie Fowler.

“Sadly, this is the latest in a long and tragic history of evidence that highlights what we have long known – that live sheep export is beyond salvation, and that the Federal Government has made the right decision by committing to phase it out.

One of the most severe and serious issues with live sheep export is that Australian animal welfare laws cannot protect sheep in international jurisdictions.

“What this footage shows is what that looks like in reality, with Australian sheep suffering terribly in their last moments of life - breathing rapidly, distressed and struggling against restraints as they are left in the baking sun in a new, strange and terrifying environment – there’s no question these animals are suffering.

“Pre-slaughter stunning is standard practice in Australia to reduce the pain, suffering and distress experienced by sheep – but when sheep are exported live, Australia has no say on the slaughter techniques used overseas.

“And that’s all on top of the litany of cumulative animal welfare risks that sheep have already faced throughout the journey to reach this point.

“That’s why the only way to protect more Australian sheep from facing this cruelty is to phase out the live sheep export trade as soon as possible.

For that reason, the RSPCA once again calls for a swift and orderly phase out, over a period of no more than three years from the passage of legislation.

“Failing that, sheep will continue to be subjected to unacceptable cruelty, and Australians will continue to see more and more scenes like on ABC 7.30 tonight.

“It is unacceptable to us and it is unacceptable to the Australian community. The only way forward is to legislate an end date as soon as possible.”

The independent panel is due to provide advice to the Federal Government by the end of September about how and when to phase out live sheep export.

The Parliamentary petition remains open until midnight Thursday 31 August.

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