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The RSPCA has applauded New Zealand’s decision to end the controversial live export trade once and for all, saying the decision shines a spotlight on Australia’s complete failure to protect animals live exported for breeding and production.

The New Zealand Government, which banned the export of live animals for slaughter in 2007, announced today that from 2023, the export of all live animals (including for dairy and breeding) will end.

RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said that this should be a wake-up call for the Australian Government, which still supports the cruel live export trade and allows it to continue.

“The export of live animals has arguably damaged Australian farming’s reputation more than any other practice. It is inherently high-risk, with decades of repeated evidence of suffering and cruelty,” said Dr Goodfellow.

“We’ve seen tragedy after tragedy involving Australian animals on live export ships. Many thousands of animals have died while countless more have suffered terribly, but survived to face an uncertain fate overseas.

“New Zealand has made the right decision, and with it, is cementing its international reputation as a world leader in high quality, ethical agricultural products while Australia is left behind yet again. The export of live animals for slaughter has been banned in New Zealand for nearly 15 years, but here, the trade still continues in its entirety.

“While there’s quite rightly a lot of attention given to the live export of sheep and cattle for slaughter, the news today is also a reminder that there are serious welfare issues involving the export of live animals for dairy and breeding.

“Australia exported 170,657 breeding cattle last year, primarily to China and Pakistan – and there are no laws to protect them once they’re there. This is a sleeper issue and a crisis waiting to happen again. The Australian Government must act immediately to close these loopholes.

“Today’s news out of New Zealand shows what leadership is and that reform is possible. The RSPCA has been working to end the live export trade for decades and we’ll continue to do so until that happens,” said Dr Goodfellow.

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