Media release

Live exports: Littleproud demands technology timeline

17 December 2018

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has written to the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council demanding to know how quickly vital new technology can be installed on live export ships, ahead of next year's Middle Eastern Summer.

Research and studies done on animal welfare indicators over many years by ALEC's research body, LiveCorp, was used as part of the Heat Stress Risk Assessment released publicly last week, which some say will threaten the viability of the industry.

The trade has been aware of concerns since 2003 over the welfare of live sheep travelling to the Middle East between May to October, as detailed in the Keniry Livestock Export Review. For nearly 20 years there has been recognition that clear definitions of animal welfare should guide the operation of the trade.

ALEC Chair Simon Crean stated as far back as May 17 support for the industry moving to an animal welfare model, rather than simply measuring mortalities:

"Industry accepts the move to broader, science-based animal welfare indicators on vessels." ABC interview, Simon Crean, 17/5/18

"The industry did the science which helped create the heat stress model, but they haven't done the work on the solution," Minister Littleproud said.

"Why hasn't ALEC led the industry transition?

"ALEC needs to tell me when they're going to have the solution. Farmers need to know what progress exactly has been made on this solution and on implementing it. I'm on the side of the farmers here.

"This solution may involve dehumidifiers and improved ventilation.

"The live export industry needs to provide certainty to our farmers and our trading partners. They've made millions over the years and now the opportunity is here to invest for the future.

"Ship owners and exporters should not run away from Australia to run ships on live export routes elsewhere in the world, following research about live shipments into the Middle Eastern Summer.

"The pork industry are phasing out sow stalls because they've moved with the expectations of society and the market. Other agricultural industries recognise the need to do this.

"Some 35 pieces of research on heat stress have been completed by live export research body LiveCorp. ALEC exporters are years behind their own research. Time is against us.

"I'm also concerned ALEC and members were given research five years ago showing public attitudes against the industry were at crisis point and true transparency and animal welfare indicators were urgently needed. Why has this not been acted on?"

​Minister Littleproud's letter requested answers by the end of the week.​