Stop the Suffering: Protect Aussie sheep from a backslide in heat stress regulation
Since the horrific images of Aussie sheep on board a live export ship went to air last year, we have seen the Department of Agriculture swamp the issue of heat stress in review after review. These reviews have delayed a definite decision on protecting the welfare of sheep from occurring – but we will continue to fight until action is taken. The current review proposes a few options, but none properly protect Aussie sheep, so we need to make sure a new option is put on the table. Your voice is needed now and we know we can push for change with you by our side. We will not give up.
Please note: this is a copy of your email which was sent to RSPCA Australia, and if you have given permission, will also be sent as a submission to the Middle East sheep exports policy options discussion paper.
Submitted on Saturday, October 26, 2019 – 08:37.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission to the Middle East sheep exports policy options discussion paper.
I support the RSPCA’s position that live sheep exports should end altogether because of the inherent and unavoidable risks the trade poses to animal welfare. I believe sheep farmers should be supported to transition away from the live export of animals, and access more sustainable markets for chilled and frozen meat instead.
But while the trade continues it is incumbent upon the Department of Agriculture to ensure the welfare of exported animals is protected to the fullest extent possible.
None of the options proposed in the discussion paper fulfil this obligation.
Based on the scientific evidence presented to the Department in the Independent Technical Committee’s Final Heat Stress Risk Assessment Review report (HSRA Report) and the advice of the Australian Veterinary Association, sheep exports to the Middle East should cease from May through to October, inclusive. Additionally, the revised HSRA model as recommended by the Technical Committee should be implemented for every voyage that crosses the equator, at all times of the year.
At the very least, Options 2 AND 3 of the discussion paper should be implemented to ensure that sheep are not subjected to the most dangerous months of the Middle Eastern summer AND the Department implements the revised HSRA Model as recommended by the McCarthy Review, the ASEL Review, and the HSRA Review.
Combining Options 2 and 3 would provide certainty to all stakeholders including the industry, trading partners, and the Australian community, and ensure a new approach is taken to heat stress risk assessment that is based on animal welfare, not mortality. Failing to implement the revised HSRA model, a fundamental component of the proposed reforms over the past 18 months, would represent a massive backflip on the Government’s commitments to evidence-based policy and animal welfare.
On 10 September 2019, the Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said the live export trade “won’t be conducted at the expense of animal welfare standards.”
The science and evidence is clear. I urge the Department to act upon it by implementing Options 2 and 3 and fulfilling the Governments commitments to the Australian public.
Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to seeing decisive action from the Department that will protect animal welfare for as long as live animal exports continue.