Live exports back in the spotlight

The hot topic of live animal exports in Australia has been thrust back into the limelight following New Zealand’s landmark decision to ban the practice.

New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says it will be phased out within the next two years, with the country wanting to uphold its reputation for high standards of animal welfare.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand only exports animals live for breeding not slaughter.

Australian sheep board a livestock ship bound for the Middle East. Photo: The Livestock Collective.

“New Zealand’s decision to ban live export will likely have a positive impact on Australian cattle farmers,” says Member for Roe and farmer Peter Rundle, who represents around 2000 livestock farmers in his electorate.

“Because New Zealand will no longer be exporting breeding cattle to China, Australian cattle farmers could potentially be seeing increased demand from China.”

Despite this positive for the industry, Mr Rundle acknowledged how the decision will be putting the limelight back on live exports in WA.

Peter Rundle on New Zealand’s decision to ban live export. Photo: The National Party.

Multiple animal welfare agencies have come forward with statements of support for the decision by New Zealand, saying it is time Australia followed suit.

The RSPCA applauded New Zealand’s decision to end the trade once and for all, saying the decision shines a spotlight on Australia’s “complete failure to protect animals live exported for breeding and production”.

Sheep board the ship at Fremantle Port. Picture: The Livestock Collective.

This sentiment is echoed by Ban Live Export’s campaign manager Katrina Love, who says it was great to see a government make a decision not based purely on economics.

“This will hurt some farmers in New Zealand. It will take some money out of their economy, but sometimes you have to put ethics and animal welfare ahead of making a buck.”

Katrina Love on New Zealand’s decision to ban live exports.

In a statement Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says Australia has no plans to ban live exports and the government continues to support the trade and its contribution to the Australian economy.

“The Federal government is confident in our standards, regulations and laws to ensure high standards of animal welfare for livestock exports,” he says.

Australian sheep on board a live export ship. Picture: The Livestock Collective.

Director at The Livestock Collective John Cunnington says the live export trade coming out of Australia is not only an important trade to agricultural enterprise in Australia, but for the standard of animal welfare in live export all over the world.

“We export animal welfare,” he says.

“Every market that we’re in we’re proactively changing the practices that happen, not only to the Australian livestock but the standards and quality of the way local animals are treated.”

John Cunnington on the importance of Australia’s live export industry. Photo: The Livestock Collective.

“It’s not just the product that we export, we also export a lot of skills and knowledge.”