Why Live Sheep Exports when Viable Alternative?

Jessica Borg's picture

New evidence demonstrates that a phase out of the cruel live sheep export trade is possible; and that replacing it with chilled meat exports would have positive long-term impacts on the Australian economy.

So why does the live export industry continue to maintain that the trade is essential to Australia?

Time and again those in favour of live exports fail to address the undeniable cruelty of the trade. Australia is the largest exporter of animals for slaughter in the world and exports four million sheep to the Middle East annually. During the four week journey, heat stress and diseases such as scabby mouth, pink eye and salmonellosis are common. Tens of thousands of sheep die every year.
For sheep that survive the trip, a terrible fate awaits them in the hands of countries that have no, or unenforced, animal welfare laws. They are handled and slaughtered in ways that are simply not legal in Australia.
We have recently received evidence of such horrendous treatment of Australian animals, in seven different abattoirs in three Middle Eastern countries. Yet the industry continues to maintain that it is working to ensure animal protection and that its existence prevents worse cruel treatment from other potential suppliers. Why is this something for Australia to be proud of?
The ACIL Tasman research shows there is currently an uneven playing field between live exports and meat exports from Australia. If this bias were removed, the meat trade could actually be of greater benefit to the economy and to the WA job market. An even playing field would help ensure a switch to Australian meat (rather than a switch to live animals from another country) if combined with investment in marketing for the meat industry.
The pro-live export argument often focuses on religion as the reason for demand for live animals in the Middle East. But the research found that consumer preferences are already beginning to shift. Younger, more urbanised populations are leading a move away from freshly slaughtered meat and towards supermarkets and their products. And Australia already has over 40 halal accredited abbatoirs ready to increase their sales via this new market.
85% of the Australian public agree that live sheep exports are cruel. For us, this cruelty is enough in itself to want to end the trade. So far, however, the Government has failed to listen to the public’s concerns. Now the evidence exists that there is a viable alternative that will benefit the Australian economy and Australian animals. Isn’t it time the Government took action?
Jessica Borg is Programs Officer at World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Australia. WSPA exists for the sole purpose of raising the standards of animal welfare throughout the world. Follow her on Twitter @Humanechain


Why is the government so blind?

Thanks Jessica for your Blog Post - it's such an amazing country we live in but it goes to show how our government is so pathetic at putting effective policy in place to stop animal cruelty. Good luck with the campaign and hope more people can get in contact with their local MP to put a stop to this terrible trade.

Lambs to the slaughter

If the Australian government looked at this issue logically they would realize that in putting an end to the live animal trade they would actually be stimulating their own economy. No live animal trade means more work for Australian abattoirs and more employment opportunities for Australians.

 "Halal Australia," a member of the World Halal Council, has already said that it does not condone the inhumane treatment of animals and is looking for alternatives, such as pre killed meat for export. There is a huge growing market for chilled meat products here in the Middle East - Jessica is right when she states that there are over 40 halal abattoirs back in Australia ready to take up the job of providing these products - now all that needs to happen is for Rudd to pull his finger out, become a Shepard, make some much needed changes and lead his flock to safety.  
I agree with GEM Advisors in the previous comment - yes it's about time people started contacting MPs et al to voice their opinion about this issue.
Keep fighting the good fight Jessica.

Live Export


If 85% of Australians are against Live Export then why is it still happening?? Can someone answer my questions as I'm a little ignorant as to what's going on in the world today. Does the Government receive money from exporting live animals?? Does the Government have a 'special' relationship with the Middle East?? I'm a little bit confused. Here I was thinking that we live in a democratic society with freedom to speech yet why is no one listening to us?? The Government is out in place to serve the country and it's citizens yet when majority of the Australian citizens want something to change nothing is done. What must other countries think of us for sending over such an enormous amount of live export KNOWING their conditions on the ship and knowing the chances of survival. I think the Australian Public need to be stronger in demanding what they want. We can overturn live export, we might just need the numbers to do so. If everyone knew what was happening, maybe it wouldn't go on. If the Government listened to the public and served them like they are meant too, maybe things will change. No matter which party is in power, the Australian Citizens requests seemed to go unheard on many agendas. How come we can see what's going on yet they can't? Whatever the reason for our requests to ban Live export to go unheard is, we need to stand up and be more demanding in what we want from this country and government. It's people like YOU Jess that are willing to dedicate your life to these things. It's people like YOU that will save us from our own greed by waking us up to what's really going on in the world. Please DON"T STOP!