Greens spokesperson for animal welfare Senator Lee Rhiannon has condemned the government's handling of two shipments of sheep stranded for the past week in the Middle East and called for immediate action to ensure the 22,000 sheep aboard the Ocean Drover are unloaded without more suffering.
"The requirement that sheep be unloaded within 36 hours of reaching port has been flagrantly ignored twice in one week, making a mockery of the government's ability to manage the live export trade without inflicting cruelty on animals," said Senator Rhiannon.
"This incident underlines the unacceptable risks for animals shipped overseas for the live export and the need for an immediate ban on this cruel trade.
"The public have been kept in the dark on how long the ships have been stranded and the welfare and mortality rates of the sheep on board the Ocean Drover and the Al Shuwaikh.
"Rather than waiting for months for mortality reports, the government should immediately send public officials to monitor and report on the welfare of the sheep and the number of animals that have died on board. The public can have little faith in assurances by the exporter that the sheep are in good health.
"The Greens are calling on Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to initiate a full and transparent investigation into the voyage of the Ocean Drover and the Al Shuwaikh.
"22,000 sheep on the Ocean Dover have still not been unloaded after 33 days at sea. This is more than double the length of time the trip from Australia to Bahrain usually takes and there appears to be no resolution in sight.
"These sheep have made the trip from an Australian winter to a Bahrain summer, trapped and crowded in sweltering temperatures.
"I can only guess that the death toll of heat-stressed sheep is rising with every passing day.
"Noone wants to see a repeat of the MV Cormo Express on which 6000 sheep died in 2003 while waiting to be unloaded in the Persian Gulf," said Senator Rhiannon.