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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, is demanding the Federal Government stop a ship with 56,000 sheep sailing from Fremantle to Kuwait tomorrow. The Al Kuwait is due to leave Western Australia tomorrow after the Federal Court dismissed an objection to the Federal Agriculture Department’s exemption to the northern-hemisphere summer live-export ban.

Mr Wilkie said the exemption was an unconscionable decision that would inflict terrible cruelty on the 56,000 sheep crammed into the vessel.

“This is the deadliest time of year for live exports which is why the summer sailing ban was put in place,” Mr Wilkie said. “Australians have not forgotten the thousands of sheep that died and the tens of thousands more that suffered terribly on the Awassi Express in 2017. There’s simply no humane way to transport animals, en masse, through hot climates and the sailing ban must be strictly upheld.”

Since making orders aimed at reforming the vile trade, the Federal Government has authorised three successive exemptions. There were exemptions for the two-tiered ship the Al Shuwaikh in December 2019 and for another two-tiered ship the Maysora in March 2020, as well as the exemption for the Al Kuwait.

“This is yet another example of the Federal Government sanctioning animal cruelty for its mates in the live-export industry.” Mr Wilkie said. “The Government is being fraudulent when it speaks about cleaning up this barbaric industry. Its promises remain empty and at the end of the day nothing has changed.

“This episode demonstrates that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is also incapable of safeguarding animal welfare. What’s needed is for animal welfare decision-making to be taken out of the hands of Ministers and bureaucrats and to be given to an independent and powerful new animal welfare agency.

“What’s also needed is for the live export industry to be shut down. It’s systemically cruel, costs Australians jobs and lacks widespread public support. The only way to end the cruelty is to end the trade.”