RSPCA calls for swift and orderly live sheep export phase out

The RSPCA today released its submission to the independent panel advising the Federal Government on how to implement a live sheep export phase out, calling for a swift and orderly phase out with a timeframe of no longer than three years.

The submission, which was lodged with the panel in May, contains 17 recommendations, which include:

  • Passing legislation to set an end date this Parliamentary term (before the 2025 election),
  • A short-term phase out period of no more than three years, from the passing of legislation, and
  • Measures to safeguard animal welfare in the meantime, such as providing appropriate funding to safeguard sheep welfare, expanding the Northern Summer Prohibition and increased regulation and monitoring of voyages.

“The Federal Government is to be commended for their strong and continued commitment to phase out this cruel and unfixable trade,” said RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell.

“The independent panel, which is due to report to the Agriculture Minister by the end of September, has been given a clear brief – to come up with recommendations about how and when to phase out live sheep export, not if.

“We trust that our recommendations will help the panel to accomplish this. They’re recommendations which are based on the extensive and compelling animal welfare science, which tells us plainly and clearly that live sheep export is unfixable.

“In particular, we call for a legislated phase out date to be passed this term of Parliament. This is crucial to give producers and everyone across the supply chain certainty; to make sure that this transition actually occurs; to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to animal welfare; and to reflect strong and consistent community expectations.

“We would like to see an early as possible phase out date, but no more than three years, from the time legislation is passed. This provides sufficient time to modify supply chain operations to mitigate the increasing risk of further sheep welfare risks, and adapt to alternate markets. This is also consistent with previous independent economic analysis.*

“Finally, our submission makes a number of recommendations for safeguarding animal welfare in the interim, including ensuring timely funding to progress a swift and orderly phase out of live sheep export.

“While the only acceptable option is to phase out the live sheep export trade as soon as possible, measures like expanding the Northern Hemisphere Summer prohibition, capping the number of sheep that can be exported during the phase out, and increased monitoring on the voyages that do occur, will assist to protect animal welfare while the trade is wound down.

“We look forward to continuing to assist the independent panel in their work – and trust the Government will legislate an end date for this cruel and unfixable trade as soon as possible.”

The submission is available here.

* Davey, A. Fisher, R. Morley, M. (2022) Pegasus Economics report — Economic implications of phasing out the live sheep export trade.   

Nelson, R et al (2021) ABARES report — The economic impacts of regulating live sheep exports