Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig must not budge from the February deadline for accrediting live sheep exports to the Middle East following reports today that sheep traders are pushing for an extension, said Greens Senator and animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon (Australian Financial Review, 23/1/11, p3).
“This is a litmus test of the government’s commitment to live export reforms and Senator Ludwig will betray the public if he buckles to industry bullying and gives sheep traders more time to conform”, said Senator Rhiannon.
Australian live export companies have until the end of February to conduct an independent audit of their supply chain to show that they can trace animals and that animals are processed at the internationally accepted standards for animal welfare.
“In October the government set a clear deadline of 29 February to comply with supply chain accreditation. The industry has had over four months to get its act together and there is no excuse for extending the deadline.
“Industry claims that the rules do not suit Middle East markets are far from convincing. Supply chain assurances to improve animal welfare standards should not be negotiable.
“Too many sheep die at sea and are subject to unacceptable suffering, both on board ships and once they arrive in destination countries.
“Holding sheep traders to a deadline to have their supply chains audited is the very least the government can do.
“When parliament resumes the Greens will reintroduce a bill to end live exports”, said Senator Rhiannon