“Sheep trade is finished…”
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2018
Mark, this was a very welcome media headline to end what has been a huge year in our efforts to end live export. It refers to a new ‘heat stress assessment model’ which would effectively stop sheep exports for half the year, presenting another huge blow to the future viability of the trade.
So much has happened this year. And with politicians heading home for the summer break, and with four live export bills yet to be voted on — I thought you may be wondering, what now?
The short answer is that politicians have 13 more chances over 13 parliamentary sitting days to bring on a vote to end live sheep exports. If they don’t, then the Australian people get to make the decision for them at the next Federal election. And, as you know, for the first time in our history there is a point of difference on this issue between the two major parties.
Let’s pause for a moment to take that in.
After 50 years of condemning animals to unconscionable cruelty — after half a century of thinking their secrets would stay hidden at sea — the live sheep export industry’s days are well and truly numbered.
They’re numbered because compassionate and determined people like you, Mark, have refused to stay silent. Because, day and night, for eight months, you have answered our call for help every time we found a strategic opportunity to fuel this campaign for the animals onwards.
Now, as a result of our collective efforts, live exporters no longer enjoy majority political support. Two additional live export bills were introduced to the Federal Parliament during the final parliamentary sitting week, sending a striking message from a powerful new cross-bench straight to the Morrison government that this issue is more palpable than ever, and will not go away.
South Australian MP Rebekah Sharkie cited that she gets dozens of emails every single day calling for live export to end. The new Independent member for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps, said her electors made it clear during the by-election that they will no longer tolerate the trade. And long-time friend of the animals, Andrew Wilkie, reminded his fellow parliamentarians that every poll ever conducted has made Australia’s opposition to this cruellest of trades clear.
These are your voices, your emails, your phone calls, your letters, being echoed by your political representatives.
Mark, I would have loved nothing more than to head into Christmas with a parliamentary decision to end the trade. However, after 15 years investigating and exposing the horrors this industry inflicts on animals, I can wait a few more months. After all, it’s already been a year of truly milestone moments:
- More than 500,000 sheep were spared from ‘cooking alive’ at sea during the deadliest Northern summer months.
- Australia’s biggest sheep exporter — the company exposed on 60 Minutes — was banned from operating, permanently.
- We hauled the live trade before the Federal Court, and won, and now the regulator remains under investigation for covering up cruelty.
- New standards being forced on the industry will effectively end shipments during the hottest months, and impact the commercial viability of all export voyages — for both sheep and cattle.
- So fearful is the industry of a pending political vote that they ‘voluntarily’ committed to stop shipments across the sweltering June to August period next year. And now, this ‘heat stress’ review will likely mean there will be no sheep shipments for 6 months next year.
So, while the year is rapidly drawing to a close, 2018 will be remembered as the year Australia’s cruellest trade began to unravel. Mark, with your help, we are determined to ensure that 2019 will be commemorated as the year Australians voted to bring it to an end.
For the animals,
|Lyn White AM