Warning: Some readers may find the footage below confronting.
The Live Export industry is one of the most secretive industries in Australia – and rightly so, because it is absolutely abhorrent.
For years activists have been demanding a ban on sending live Australian cattle and sheep overseas, often to developing countries for slaughter, due to the blatant cruelty associated with the practice. Unfortunately, live animal exports aren’t new, they’ve occurred since the European colonisation of Australia.
The debate was re-ignited after secret footage obtained by a trainee navigation officer on-board the Awassi Express was broadcast by 60 Minutes on Sunday night. The worker, 25-year-old Faisal Ullah had previously worked on five sheep live export ships in 2017 with the majority of the leaked footage coming from a ship which departed Fremantle en route to the Middle East in August of last year. This particular voyage saw 2,400 of the nearly 64,000 sheep die on the journey.
Animals Australia were part of the most recent investigation with 60 Minutes and outlined a number of state, federal and international laws which were breached.
The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) state that it is a breach of federal laws if a vessel fails to ‘meet the health, welfare and physical needs’ of animals on board, fails to ‘ensure all animals can access food and water on demand’, fails to ‘promptly identify and treat or euthanise sick and injured animals and fails to ‘ensure that ewes on board are not pregnant.’
The footage is hard to watch. Among the footage, dying and already dead sheep living in their own faeces, after suffering in oven-like conditions. Sheep aren’t able to move. Most can’t reach food or water. One vet is employed to ‘humanely’ euthanise injured sheep, he simply can’t keep up to demand. Lambs born on the sheep have their throats slit by workers. Dead sheep and lambs are seen thrown overboard, becoming shark food.
Provided that the animals survive the three-week journey, the ultimate destination is no better. The animals are sold in markets where they are taken to backyard slaughters and killed with little to no animal welfare regulations.
But remarkably, the footage displayed wasn’t enough for politicians to head towards a total ban of the inherently cruel transfers. Newly appointed Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said in a statement which was shared via his Twitter that he was ‘shocked and gutted’ by the footage obtained by 60 Minutes and Animals Australia. Despite this, he is giving the disgraced exporter yet another chance. An investigation will be completed to ensure that future ships uphold regulations.
“This cannot go on, if you are doing the wrong thing, you are going to get nailed,” he said.
“The reality is, this is the pride and joy of our Australian farmers being treated in this manner disturb me greatly.”
Questions are being asked as to why the live export trade is still present in our current day.
Australia currently exports boxed meat to every country that we send live animals to. As Animals Australia state, “a succession of economic reports has also confirmed that live export is not critical to most farmers or the economy.”
With hundreds of protestors seen rallying in Perth, the general Australian public has been mortified by the vision.
No doubt over the coming weeks this highly contentious issue will continue to be debated and investigated. The question needs to be asked of whether the profits of this death trade are worth more than the welfare of Australian cattle and sheep.
Whilst wealthy live export companies continue to become wealthier, sentient animals will continue to be exploited all in the name of ‘business’. We can only hope for change, for this barbaric industry to become outdated. Live export, put simply, completely disregards animal welfare.
With more than 150 thousand signatures already, you can sign Animals Australia’s campaign to end the Live Export trade for good, here.