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The issue

One of Australia’s most notorious live sheep exporters being given an exemption from the government’s own animal welfare regulations, to export 56,000 sheep at the hottest time of the year, on Australia's most infamous live export ship, the "Awassi Express”?

They cannot be seriously considering this.

Less than two months after new regulations were put in place to address the community’s demands and better protect Australian sheep, the government is considering overturning its own ban by granting an exemption for the Rural Export & Trading (WA), or RETWA.

There are grave reasons why the government has stopped the live export of sheep between 1 June and 14 September.

Sending animals into extreme temperatures and humidity is knowingly exposing them to the certain and unacceptable risk of severe heat stress, horrific suffering and death.

Every day, from the first of May, temperatures and humidity are climbing steadily in the Middle East.

Already, temperatures in Kuwait are reaching up to 45 degrees Celsius, with humidity up to 60% on some days in Oman.

And those are the conditions these sheep will be facing.

A repeat of the Awassi Express?

After sending ships back and forth between Australia and foreign ports throughout the pandemic, a live export ship operated by RETWA has had a COVID-19 virus outbreak, and brought a new virus cluster into the port of Fremantle, WA.

RETWA was trying to rush out one last shipload of sheep, already pushing the limits of new animal protection measures that come into play from 1 June, prohibiting live sheep export until 14 September.

Of course, they can no longer meet that deadline.

Now they want an exemption from Australian laws so they can send 56,000 Australian sheep into the searing heat and humidity of the Middle Eastern summer in June.

These are the kinds of conditions that resulted in the five horror journeys of the Awassi Express in 2017, and that’s what we fear will happen again.

RETWA has been closely aligned with Emanuel Exports, which was responsible for those fateful Awassi Express journeys (and for which, Emanuel Exports is still facing animal cruelty charges).

But this time, there will be no one on board to record what happens.

What needs to change

These sheep must not pay the price because of this delay.

We cannot bend the rules for companies that take unreasonable risks and place our animals and our community in jeopardy.

This request for exemption makes a mockery of our live export regulations and animal protection laws – the answer must be no.

Take Action

This is urgent. The clock is ticking.

Please write to your MP now and urge them enforce our existing live export regulations. Your email will also be sent to the Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture.

This notorious live exporter RETWA must not be given an exemption from Australia’s animal welfare requirements.

Thousands of sheep will suffer and die if this happens.

Write, then share this news online to make sure as many people are aware of this looming disaster as possible.