RSPCA welcomes decision to uphold live export law and spare sheep from dangerous live export journey

The RSPCA says it is relieved by the Department of Agriculture’s decision to deny live exporter RETWA an exemption, which would have seen 56,000 Australian sheep sent into the dangerous heat and humidity of the Middle Eastern summer in contravention of current animal welfare regulations.

RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said, “We welcome this decision, which reflects the overwhelming science and evidence demonstrating the horrendous conditions these sheep would have endured if exported.”

“Fortunately, common sense has prevailed, and the regulator has done its job.

“June is one of the hottest and most dangerous months for sheep in live export, and there’s nothing the exporter or the government can do to mitigate that reality.

“That’s why these new regulations were introduced just two months ago, to try and protect sheep from the very worst conditions, and avoid the kinds of outcomes we’ve seen far too frequently in the past, including on the five disastrous journeys of the Awassi Express in 2017, for example.

“Granting an exemption and sending Australian sheep to that fate would have completely undermined the integrity of the new laws and rocked public confidence in the regulator,” said Dr Goodfellow.

“The fact that the Department has acted on the science in this decision despite significant pressure being applied from various sources is reassuring and should be commended.

“These sheep should now be slaughtered humanely in West Australian abattoirs by Australian workers, saving them from a live export journey that would have seen them suffering in extreme heat and humidity,” he said.

The RSPCA has also expressed its concern for the wellbeing of the affected crew members remaining in WA and said it understands the sheep are currently in good health and condition in the feedlot.