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The RSPCA has expressed relief and thanks following today’s history-making Senate vote in favour of phasing-out live sheep exports.

“I believe we’ll look back on this day as a major step towards protecting Australian sheep from the cruelty of live export, for good,” said RSPCA Australia President Gary Humphries.

“This landmark vote by the Senate comes exactly 15 years since 6,000 sheep died on the Cormo Express, the tragedy that brought this trade to national and international infamy and cemented that notorious name in the minds of so many Australians,

“Since then, we’ve seen countless more examples of why live sheep exports must end. Australian sheep being dragged and stuffed into car boots in Egypt, Australia sheep being beaten and buried alive in Pakistan, and tens of thousands of sheep dying at sea from disease, heat stress, starvation and dehydration,

“And, of course, it’s been more than a year now since those five disastrous journeys on the Awassi Express took place, prompting one brave whistle-blower to bring the horrors he witnessed to the forefront of our minds once again, and setting in motion a chain of events that have brought us to this day,

“For the RSPCA, today brings relief that change is finally underway, and gratitude for those Senators willing to follow their conscience and respond to the will of everyday Australians who don’t want to support animal cruelty,

“Perhaps most of all, today brings hope. Hope that we may be able to maintain this momentum, and hope that we’ll be able to protect Australian sheep from ever having to endure those kinds of conditions again,” said Mr Humphries.

Mr Humphries also urged live export defenders to reconsider their position in light of the evidence and changed community expectations.

“There can be no doubt the landscape for live sheep export has changed forever,

“We don’t have to wait for the inevitable repeat of a disaster like the Cormo Express or the Awassi Express, and we don’t have to wait for legislation to force your hand,

“Once again, as we always have, we urge Australian farmers to take control of this situation,

“And we urge the government to support an orderly transition away from live exports to protect Australian sheep and Australian farmers from this volatile and unsustainable practice,

“Until then, we fear farmers will pay an increasingly heavy price for those who continue to defend this horrific trade,” said Mr Humphries.

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