The RSPCA has applauded today’s legal action by Animals Australia, which will bring much-needed independent scrutiny of the federal Department of Agriculture’s process for granting live sheep export permits.
The RSPCA has long argued the Department cannot be assured of the welfare of sheep on long-haul live export journeys, given the irrefutable scientific evidence on the dangers of heat stress and high stocking densities, the industry’s own track record of repeated disasters, and now, the independent whistle-blower footage.
Most recently, the Government’s own McCarthy Review found an immediate need to change the industry’s heat stress risk assessment model from one based on mortality rates to one based on animal welfare measures.
At Senate Estimates hearings last month, a senior Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officer confirmed that this recommendation would effectively “lead to the closure of the trade in the summer months” due to the massive reductions required in stocking density.
It is astonishing that the Department is, and will be, continuing to grant export permits for voyages into the current Middle Eastern summer period, with the known serious risks and in light of this new evidence.
The RSPCA welcomes the opportunity to have the Department’s actions scrutinised and reviewed by a truly independent adjudicator.