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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, delivered a speech to the House of Representatives about the importance of banning live sheep exports by sea and supporting the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024. Please see above video for full speech.

“The live sheep export trade has proven again and again that it is systemically cruel, not in Australia’s best economic interests, increasingly unsustainable and deeply unpopular,” Mr Wilkie said. “So it’s pleasing to see legislation that will ban live sheep exports by sea by 1 May 2028 in Parliament. This monstrous trade should never have been allowed to continue for so long.

“The industry continues to claim that our country’s animal welfare standards are some of the best in the world, but an analysis undertaken by RSPCA Australia from data by independent observers on more than 53 live sheep export journeys between 2018 and 2023 reveals that sheep continue to suffer terribly. Indeed, the analysis found that more than 6,500 sheep died onboard these voyages, with there being high levels of starvation, heat stress, injury and illness.

“Alarmingly, the analysis also identified that activities that were inconsistent with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock were reported in approximately 70 per cent of journeys, demonstrating a shocking disregard for the welfare of these sheep. Obviously just tinkering around the edges doesn’t adequately address the welfare risk to these animals, and the only way to end the cruelty is to end the trade.

“Moreover, the live sheep export trade is worth less than $100 million and only accounts for 0.1 per cent of Australia’s agricultural exports A transition to the vastly more lucrative chilled and frozen sheep meat export trade means there will be expanded opportunities for meat processing in Australia and an increase in jobs in Australia’s abattoirs. The $107 million government assistance package will help farmers and the industry make this adjustment and refocus their work to more sustainable methods that minimise the cruelty.

“It’s absurd that the industry is pedalling the nonsense that the welfare of sheep will be better if Australia continues to export them. Participating in the trade does not improve global animal welfare standards. This piece of legislation can make Australia a world leader in animal welfare and set an example for other countries to follow.”