Independent polling commissioned by the RSPCA in May 2023 found 71% of Western Australians support the Federal Government’s policy to phase out live sheep export by sea.
This includes 72% of people in metropolitan areas, and 69% in rural and regional Western Australia.
The survey of 800 people also found that almost 9 in 10 West Australians across the board agreed government should support farmers and others in the supply chain to transition out of live sheep exports.
RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said the results were consistent with past independent polling on live export undertaken over many years. The independent poll asked: Do you support the Government’s policy to phase-out live sheep export? The question was clear – and so was the overwhelming response from the community, says Mussell. “The results from rural and regional Western Australians are particularly reassuring, as they confirm what we’ve always known – that the majority of people in rural and regional Western Australia also firmly believe Australian sheep deserve better than live export.
“It’s a sign that the extended campaign we’ve seen from live sheep export lobbyists has failed to even slightly shift the dial on Australia’s contempt for this unnecessary practice.”
The Australian government has established a Live Sheep Phase Out Panel, and in June the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) wrote to panel Chair Phillip Glyde highlighting that exporters will be put of business by the ban. Feed manufacturers and vessel owners will also experience significant financial distress. “We recognise that the live sheep industry has not been without its past challenges, but also acknowledge and commend the industry for its reform, which has been substantiated by evidence and has enhanced Australia’s trading reputation internationally. Just as the live cattle industry reformed after the 2011 export ban to Indonesia.”
That ban followed an ABC Four Corners report that showed footage of Australian cattle whipped, beaten and slashed repeatedly before they are slaughtered.
ALEC states that activists will not stop at just the live sheep industry. Any accession to their agenda undermines all Australian agricultural industries, which generated over $70 billion in exports in the 2022-23 financial year.
The letter also states that if the Australian Government ultimately bans the export of livestock, the prospects of negotiating a free trade agreement or comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council are practically zero. Currently, Australian livestock exports enter GCC member states with zero tariffs applied. Frozen, boxed and chilled meat face significant tariffs at the border. ALEC warns that the risks of a WTO challenge and class actions are very real.
Animals Australia investigations have revealed sheep and cattle subjected to cruel and rough handling and brutal slaughter practices at destination countries. In May, the organisation lodged a legal complaint with the Department of Agriculture asserting that breaches in Australian regulations have escalated in Oman, with an increasing number of Australian sheep observed to be outside of approved supply chains as the annual Festival of Sacrifice nears.