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Animal cruelty in any circumstances is abhorrent and must be condemned.
The Liberal National Government is committed to ensuring that if live exports are to continue, this is based on the highest animal welfare standards being upheld.
On 31 March 2020, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as the independent regulator signed the Australian Meat and Live‑stock Industry (Prohibition of Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle East—Northern Summer) Order 2020. This Order governs the export of live sheep and other livestock to and through the Middle East over the Northern Hemisphere Summer and is issued under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997.
The new regulations came into effect on 1 May 2020 and are focused on ensuring that appropriate arrangements are in place to manage the risk of heat stress. These changes follow the completion of a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) which involved consultation with the industry and other stakeholders.
The Order dictates that Australian live sheep exports will not take place to, or through, the Middle East to any port from 1 June to 14 September. There are additional prohibited periods for Qatar (from 22 May to 22 September) and for Oman (from 8 May to 14 September) because these countries are hotter for longer.
Additional conditions will also apply to voyages departing between 1 May and 31 October in order to manage the risk of heat stress in sheep.
The Order requires that all voyages during the Northern Hemisphere summer now be equipped with automated environmental data loggers, with the temperature and humidity recorded and reported to the department.
There have also been amendments to conditions on wool length, which must not exceed 25mm at the time of departure, body condition score and a reduced number of discharge ports.
The Liberal National Government supports a sustainable livestock export industry but expects exporters to continue to work hard at meeting their animal welfare responsibilities. A ban on the whole industry would unfairly punish those exporters and farmers who have done no wrong.
Many farming families and others in the supply chain remain devastated from the 2011 suspension of live exports. A number of countries around the world have strong cultural preferences for live animals and the Australian livestock export industry is a key player in meeting this market demand. At the same time, the Liberal National Government is strongly committed to the welfare of livestock within the livestock export industry.
The recent regulatory changes are based on the best available science and evidence, and feedback from public consultation. The Order will provide certainty for the live export sector, while also ensuring that stringent animal welfare practices are in place