A pathway to transition away from the live sheep export trade could be in place before the end of the year if Senate crossbenchers can win support for their Private Members Bill.
Senators Lee Rhiannon and Derryn Hinch have given notice of the Animal Export Legislation Amendment (Ending Long-Haul Live Sheep Exports) Bill 2018. They hope it will be debated and voted on during the June Senate sitting.
“Our priority in preparing this Bill is to end the shocking cruelty that tens of thousands of sheep are exposed to every year when they are exported for overseas slaughter,” Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
“The Senate Bill if enacted would end live sheep exports from May to October. These are the high risk months when the majority of sheep die due to heat stress.
“While shipments continue we need to address the welfare of the sheep on the export ships. Our Bill would halve current stocking densities so then exported sheep would be able to move around more easily, lie down and have easier access to food and water.
“The Bill also sets out a plan to phase out the industry within five years. We have agreed to this timeframe so sheep producers can make the necessary adjustments to their stocking cycles.
“We are in talks with other cross benchers and representatives of the major parties. Our hope is that we can achieve cross party support for transitioning out of this cruel trade.
“The boost this Bill will bring to employment in regional Australia and the national economy is another reason that should galvanise support from all parties.
“Globally the volume of live exports is already dropping. A responsible government would be working with farmers on the transition to the profitable boxed, chilled meat trade and dressed carcasses.
Senator Derryn Hinch said, "I am pleased and proud to join with Senator Rhiannon and the Greens to introduce a motion that will, I believe, finally lead to the phasing out of live exports of sheep from Australia. It's been a long time coming but this cruelty must end.
"This week we have come the closest ever to ending this barbaric trade but the High Court action over dual citizenships and the subsequent Labor resignations have delayed our plans for legislation in the House of Representatives. It's just a hiccup. The Greens, Labor, Centre Alliance, some Liberals and I, are still fully committed to phase out the trade.”