While deeply disappointed in the latest live export regulatory outcome, the RSPCA says the result validates its opposition to live animal exports and will not prevent the ultimate demise of the cruel trade.
The Department’s final Regulation Impact Statement proposes to maintain a prohibition on sheep exports from 1 June to 14 September but allows voyages to continue in the high-risk months of May, the latter half of September, and October.
With this decision, the Federal Government also confirms its intention to ignore the 2018-2019 Heat Stress Risk Assessment (HSRA) Review, which recommended animal welfare be measured by heat stress suffering, not mortality alone; and effectively recommended an end to sheep exports from May to October inclusive.*
“The good news is, what we have seen out of these reforms, is a complete and permanent ban on live sheep exports for almost one-quarter of the year,” said RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow
“That’s a huge win for all Australians against this industry, and something we could never have envisioned achieving two years ago.
“Sadly, we’ve also seen multiple panels of experts, round after round of consultation, review after review to address the critical issue of heat stress – all to be comprehensively ignored, with a result will guarantee that animals will continue to suffer,” he said.
“This outcome confirms what we’ve always said – that there can be no live export trade without cruelty. Suffering is inherent to this business model - if you take out the cruelty, the industry becomes unviable.
“The government has proven this point by effectively admitting it can’t regulate the trade to a point of achieving good animal welfare, without compromising its policy position of maintaining the trade,” said Dr Goodfellow.
“But if the scientific evidence conflicts with the government’s policy, it is the government’s policy that should change – that's what evidence-based policy is,” said Dr Goodfellow.
Dr Goodfellow said that despite the setback, animal welfare advocates like the RSPCA remain confident that the end of live sheep is inevitable.
“Any business that is built on animal suffering is ultimately unsustainable, and ignoring this reality because it doesn’t accord with current government policy will not make that go away,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone who saw image after image of those desperate Australian sheep, suffering and dying on routine live export voyages, will ever be able to forget them.
“While the government has not done enough protect Australian sheep and Aussie farming interests, the Australian community along with businesses, investors and banks continue to turn their back on this cruel trade in droves,” said Dr Goodfellow
* Attached graph from the Regulatory Impact Statement confirming “the revised HSRA model would have the impact of effectively stopping live sheep exports for the Northern Hemisphere summer period, from May to October inclusive [0% stocking density show in grey]. The revised HSRA model would destock voyages entirely or permit stocking densities that are too low to be economical, which effectively prohibits trade for 6 months.”