Live Animal Exports

Posted on 06/14/10 in , No Comments


Animal Justice Party Policy on Live Animal Exports

If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large. William Wilberforce (anti-slavery campaigner, 1759-1833)

The AJP Position

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) opposes the export of live animals of any species to any other country for profit, for whatever purpose, particularly for slaughter, on welfare, humanitarian, economic and societal grounds.  We support an international ban of the long haul export of all live animals world wide. We demand an end to the export of live animals from Australia at the earliest possible time, taking into consideration any domestic welfare issues exceeding those faced overseas, that the animals previously earmarked for live export would suffer in the event of a ban.

The Australian live export industry is controlled and operated by a few private individuals and corporations, profiting from the misery of tens of millions of sentient creatures. The AJP recognises that ruling Australian governments have not and will not ban the export of live animals no matter how many graphic, proven and documented instances of cruelty are exposed.  This has been the case in Australia despite more than 20 investigations in more than ten countries over ten years; despite in excess of 20 horrific at-sea disasters resulting in the mass loss of life, above the usual industry-accepted mortality rates in the last three decades; despite trade restrictions and delays that have contributed to gross animal suffering; despite three select committee reports and government reviews concluding that live exports were “high risk” and “inimical to good animal welfare”.

Australia has exported over 160 million animals for slaughter in overseas markets in the last thirty years; mainly sheep and cattle, though we also export smaller numbers of deer and goats and have exported camels and buffalos.

These animals’ primary destinations are countries that have no animal welfare laws, standards or codes of practice in place to offer any degree of protection  during their handling and slaughter and 80 per cent will have their throats cut whilst fully conscious .

More than 2.5 million of those animals exported have died en route at sea, from trauma, disease, exposure to extremes of temperature and nearly half of those animals die slow deaths from starvation. Sea transport can take from five to nine days to Indonesia and up to 41 days to more distant destinations such as Russia and Turkey.
The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was introduced by the Labor Government, with the support of the Liberal National Party, in 2011 after the five week suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia. ESCAS now extends to all current markets for Australian live trade. It requires animals that are exported for slaughter to only be handled in importing countries through facilities (feedlots and abattoirs) that have been audited against a checklist based on OIE (minimum) standards. Pre-slaughter stunning is not a requirement of ESCAS and ESCAS does not cover animals exported as ‘breeders’ or dairy animals.

Since the implementation of ESCAS, there have been twelve official complaints made to DAFF about ESCAS breaches – either the loss of control of animals in importing countries (animals slaughtered outside ESCAS-approved facilities) or official complaints of extreme cruelty and abuse during the handling and slaughter process (refer later). To date, DAFF has only laid charges in relation to two of those complaints and there are currently (as at July 2013) eight complaints under investigation. It is evident that ESCAS is not protecting the animals it was supposedly put in place to protect.

Policy Objectives

Notwithstanding the fact that the Animal Justice Party does not support the slaughter of animals per se, it nonetheless recognises that if animals are to be slaughtered in the medium term, it must be carried out under strict standards of animal welfare and it must be as close to the animals’ ‘point of production’ as possible. No animal is to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

1.         The party will identify and coordinate policy and principles with all relevant stakeholders including:

  • Animals Australia
  • The World Society for the Protection of Animals
  • The Humane Society
  • Stop Live Exports
  • Animals Angels
  • The RSPCA (National)
  • The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • PETA
  • any other entity which holds similar values and principles to those of the Party’s Live Animal Export Policy.

2.         The Party will campaign vigorously with Australian governments to end the live export trade and, in the medium term, increase investment in jobs in complementary sectors in Australia.  In the longer term the AJP sees an increase in investment in plant product processing replacing investment in animal product processing.

•      Until such time as the live export trade is ended, a veterinarian independent from the government and the exporter is to accompany every voyage, without exception for the full duration of the voyage; and

•      Independent and qualified animal welfare inspectors will inspect every animal, every truck or rail transport and every vessel, upon which Australian animals are loaded or will be loaded.

3.            Regulation

The live export industry will not be self-regulating on animal welfare because self-regulation has been shown to be totally ineffective when profit-making companies and individuals are in control.

The AJP requires all mortality figures, without exception, to be fully accurate and published in full to the Australian community.

Reports from the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) should be published in full for the Australian community to guarantee accountability and transparency in the industry.

The AJP requires that animals be stunned prior to slaughter in foreign abattoir and that this can be mandated within the Australian legislative framework.

Arguments in support of the policy:


  • Live animals should not be seen as a commercially tradeable commodity unless it is specifically in the animals’ own welfare interests. Subjecting animals to long distance road/rail transport, placing them in feedlots to accustom them to unnatural feed, and loading them tightly crammed on ships on which many will die is in no way consistent with any decent standards of welfare.
  • The means of live animal transport are far from any decent standards of welfare, resulting in long periods of transportation (48 hours or more for mature cattle, 38 hours or more for sheep without rest, feed or water or even longer at the discretion of the transporter) confinement in a completely unnatural environment under distressing physical conditions and with considerable emotional deprivation. Until fully qualified independent veterinary supervision and intervention is provided in every live animal transport situation,  there can be no transparency in this industry and no confidence that satisfactory animal welfare standards will be adhered to.
  • The animal welfare standards in the countries to which the exported live animals are sent, whilst mostly being signatory to OIE Codes, routinely subject the animals to horrendous methods of handling, transport and slaughter.


While the Animal Justice Party considers the economic impact of an end to the live trade as secondary to the welfare of all animals affected by that trade, it is a factor in considering the cessation of this industry in Australia.

In 1985, a Senate Select Committee determined that, if it were to be judged on cruelty alone, the live export trade should end, but perceived economic interests have prevailed over animal welfare with successive governments.

The export trade in live animals is not in the nation’s economic interest. The industry’s profitability exists only because it receives significant Australian government incentives and advantages from tariff and non-tariff trade barriers in export markets. It is exempt from some Federal and State taxes specific to the meat processing sector. As a low value-added industry it takes export market share away from the higher value-added chilled meat export sector with which it directly competes. The AJP does not support an industry that receives government assistance to generate low value-added export output when there is a higher value-added alternative already in place,

  • The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union believes the live animal export industry costs the Australian economy 40,000 jobs.
  • A report commissioned by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Ltd: ‘Impact of the live animal export sector on the Australian meat processing industry’ (2000) stated that the live animal trade creates national losses in GDP amounting to around $1.5 billion and around $270 million in household income.
  • The Australian Meat Processor Corporation Ltd report (2000) notes that when the live export trade to Saudi Arabia was first suspended (in 1991-2000) there was a three-fold increase in chilled meat exports to that country.
  •  Various reports identify the effect that the trade in live animals has on the economies particularly of Queensland and Western Australia: A report commissioned by Teys Bros, Swift Australia and Nippon Meat Packers Australia found that live cattle exports threatened to destroy $3.5 billion worth of assets, $5 billion in turnover and 36,000 jobs in Queensland.


A number of rural and regional communities throughout Australia depend, or have depended, for their employment and sustainability on the chilled meat industry, including the satellite businesses which supported local meat processing. A 2000 report by S.G. Heilbron found:

•    The live export trade could be costing Australia around $1.5 billion in lost GDP, around $270 million in household income and around 10,500 lost jobs.

•    Live animal export competes for the same export market as the domestic chilled meat industry.

  • The processing of Australian live animal exports in foreign countries has negatively impacted on rural abattoir viability, leading to many closures, with consequent loss of jobs and population, before there has been the chance to develop any alternative and more ethical industries.
  • In the long run, the AJP sees there could be many more employment, income and investment opportunities in rural communities in plant-based product businesses rather than in meat processing.


The live trade industry relies heavily on intensive feedlot production and long haul road and sea transportation to generate a low value added output outcome. Intensive feedlot production and road transport are two of the highest generators of greenhouse gases. It is an industry that makes no environmental sense in order to generate a low value added product when compared to locally processed chilled meat and plant-based industries.

Incidents relating to regulatory failure in animal welfare in the live trade











  • Israel July 2013 more allegations of cruelty in unloading animals


  • Jordan 2013 allegations that Australian sheep were being sold outside supply chain. DAFF found not enough evidence to prosecute.


This AJP policy should be read in association with the following other policies:

  • Human diet
  • Farm animals