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Speech: Live exports

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 24 Feb 2021

I rise to take note of the document Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997—Livestock mortalities during export by sea—report for the period 1 July to 31 December 2020. These latest numbers help to confirm that in 2020, despite it being the year in which so much of the global economy and global trade was disrupted, the brutality of the live export trade still went on. Nothing, it seems, will stop the Australian government from continuing to export sheep and cattle for profit. Alarmingly, the mortality rate for cattle on board the ships remains about the same as it has been for the last five years, and this is despite the government saying, again and again, how much the live export trade is improving and how they can make this cruel industry acceptable from an animal welfare perspective. But it seems nothing really is changing. The government registered more than 1,200 mortalities of Australian cattle on voyages during 2020, which was of course the year of COVID-19. Nothing is changing for these animals, who continue to suffer on these ships of misery. The news isn't much better for sheep either, with more than 1,700 mortalities of sheep on board recorded last year. Thousands of animals are dying as they are exported in horrible conditions, and there is absolutely no need to do so. That's bad enough on its own.

I do have to make the point as well that considering onboard mortalities is a pretty outdated way of measuring animal welfare experiences on board live exports ships. So long as there is a live export industry, there should be routine reportable measures against animal welfare indicators, on top of the death tally. The community should be able to see these measures transparently, and parliament should be able to scrutinise them. These should include measures such as experiences of heat stress, stocking densities and pen conditions. That would show us what is really going on on these ships. Without such animal welfare indicators transparently present and in a timely manner, it's impossible to know the conditions that these animals are being put under on these ships. We know what happens on these ships; they are miserable, cruel places. Such transparency would further expose what is an industry that is rotten to the core and incapable of making live export at all compatible with animal welfare. We have to shut it down.


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