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The RSPCA would welcome establishment of the long-awaited independent office to oversee animal welfare; but says it’s not a solution to the live export crisis and must be accompanied by a halving of stocking densities, an end to May-to-October exports, and a concrete plan to phase-out long-haul live sheep exports altogether.

“The RSPCA strongly supports independent animal welfare oversight, and has called for an independent office for some time,” said RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones.

“But Australian taxpayer dollars should not be spent trying to achieve ‘cultural reform’ in the live export industry, which has profited for decades off animal suffering and repeatedly dodged every possible opportunity to improve or change,” she said.

“That money should be spent protecting farmers as they adjust their businesses and exit this trade once and for all,

“The science and evidence says stocking density must be at least halved to achieve any meaningful improvement to animal welfare; yet this is the same industry that said a mere 10% improvement in stocking density would wipe out up to 100% of their profits.

“It’s a business model that can’t make money if animals don’t suffer,

“Live exporters have had decades of chances to show leadership in animal welfare, and they have failed time and time again. There’s always another disaster around the corner,” said Dr Jones.

“While claiming to strengthen accountability and transparency, we’ve seen no release of the footage we now know was taken on-board the Maysora before it left last week,” she said.

“The live export industry isn’t serious about transparency – if they were they would welcome an RSPCA observer onto the next eight shipments. The RSPCA has made the offer, the live export industry hasn’t accepted it,

“The proposed Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP) is not the answer. LGAP is self-regulation via the back door - this is not an industry that can be trusted to do the right thing,

“And finally, while heralding immediate change, live exporters are also going to sit on their supposed commitments for another three weeks – until they see what the government review says,

“This is just more secrecy and weasel words from what is currently Australia’s most hated industry,

“A serious response to the community’s concerns would be halving stocking density, stopping May to October exports, and locking in plans to phase-out the trade,” said Dr Jones.

“Anything less is an insult to the tens of thousands of taxpaying Australians who continue to demand real change,” she said.

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