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Review of live sheep exports by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer

In December 2021, the Animal Welfare Branch of the Agriculture Dept released a draft report "Review of live sheep exports
by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer" for public consultation. 

The Animal Justice Party contributed a 21-page submission to this consultation and provided 4 recommendations.

  1. Follow the example of New Zealand in banning all live export with no exceptions, and in turn, improve Australia’s reputation as a country that has the highest standards of animal welfare.
  2. Allow politicians a conscience vote on the issue in Parliament.
  3. Start facilitating a transition from exported animals to boxed meat.
  4. Invest more time and research into the viability of the plant-based protein market, and offer incentives for farmers who are willing to enter the market.

Live sheep export to the Middle East is projected to become unsustainable all year round as climate change intensifies and increases the temperature in Middle East countries by an estimated four degrees by 2050. This will bring the temperature above the twenty nine degree threshold identified as the “danger zone” for sheep almost all year round.

Ironically there are many alternatives to live export which would be particularly beneficial financially to Australia such as growing the chilled and frozen meat industry which is completely achievable and in line with good economic policy. Ideally, however, Australia should transition away from animal agriculture to plant based. This would also result in enormous health benefits as well as being a major factor in reducing the effects of climate change; an existential threat being largely ignored politically in this country. Silos between different government departments have a major influence on policies, or rather a lack of policies, to tackle climate change.

Live export has lost its social licence with seventy five percent of Australians opposing the industry. Australia’s animal welfare reputation is poor, ranking at an embarrassing level D on the World Protection’s Animal Protection Index especially in comparison with that of our neighbour, New Zealand who rate an A along with Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This animal welfare reputation is affecting our standing in the global community.

The shift away from eating meat globally should send alarm bells to the animal agriculture industry which could be innovative and start to transition away from live export instead of attempting to rationalise that it is acceptable to send animals on an exhausting journey overseas only to be killed in ways which would be illegal in Australia. Our collective social conscience should not allow it. Economics, reputational damage, ethics, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change and concerns regarding animal welfare all point to the need to transition away from the live export trade.

You can download and read our full submission below, and click through to the findings of the consultation. 

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