A Parliamentary petition initiated by RSPCA Australia calling for a legislated end date to live sheep export has secured nearly 44,000 signatures and is expected to be tabled in the House of Representatives today by Josh Wilson MP, Member for Fremantle.
RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said the petition calls for a legislated end date, within the 47th Parliament, with a phase out to occur within the shortest possible timeframe.
“The petition is one of the largest Australian parliamentary e-petitions in history, receiving an overwhelming level of support from the Australian community,” said Mr Mussell.
“It’s yet another demonstration of how much the Australian community supports a phase out of this cruel and unfixable trade. We’re particularly heartened by the fact that so many Australians showed their support in just a four-week period, and also the significant support this petition received from across the animal welfare sector.
“It builds on recent surveys showing that that 78% of Australians would support a phase out if farmers were supported through the transition (McCrindle 2022), and, in May this year, a survey showing that 71% of West Australians — where the majority of Australian sheep are exported from — support a phase out (McCrindle 2023).
“We commend the Australian Government for their continued commitment to the phase out. The next step is to legislate the end date in this Parliamentary term to improve sheep welfare, provide certainty for the farmers, and deliver on community expectations.
“We deeply appreciate Josh Wilson’s leadership on this issue and are pleased to see such widespread support from across the House of Representatives today.
“This is a clear sign of strong political will to improve animal welfare in Australia, and we trust it will result in decisive action following the independent panel’s report to Government on how and when the phase out should occur.”
In its May submission to the independent panel, the RSPCA made 17 recommendations including that the Australian Government should pass legislation in this Parliamentary term (before the 2025 election), to end Australia’s live sheep export trade. It also recommended a short-term phase out period of no longer than three years from the passage of legislation to avoid adverse animal welfare outcomes of a long-term phase out.
The independent panel is due to lodge its final report and recommendations to the Australian Government by 30 September 2023.
The RSPCA’s petition was open for four weeks from 4 August 2023 and closed at midnight on 31 August 2023, based on the petition rules required by the House of Representatives Petitions Committee for e-petitions that conform with Parliamentary processes. It received 43,758 signatures, making it the 31st largest petition (out of more than 3,200) ever made via the e-petitions website, and the 5th largest in the 47th Parliament.