CANBERRA, AAP – The Morrison government will allow the resumption of live sheep exports to parts of the Middle East during summer months.
The ban had been imposed in March 2020 under rules aimed at reducing animal deaths.
Heat stress during the northern hemisphere summer became a key issue for the trade which was rocked by a cruelty scandal in 2017.
The agriculture department said in advice to the industry released earlier this week that amendments had been made to the arrangements for the start of the 2022 northern hemisphere summer.
“The changes are based on updated climatology data, which indicated an increased heat stress risk for voyages to some Persian Gulf destinations in late May and a reduced risk for voyages to or through the Red Sea during early June,” the department said.
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“The department is continuing to consider the feedback received, available science and evidence and conducting further analyses.”
A number of conditions will apply to the shipments to mitigate heat stress risks.
The department also plans to contribute funding and work with LiveCorp and industry on new research to “further ascertain and align sheep physiological and behavioural changes observed during a voyage with other data”.
Independent MP and animal welfare campaigner Andrew Wilkie said the decision was “abhorrent”.
“We know the sheep suffer horribly on these journeys, where temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees and heat stress is off the scale,” he said on Friday.
He said it was more alarming that the change was made while a review was still underway and an election was due.
“Indeed, announcing these adjustments on the eve of an election, when there will not be another chance for the parliament to sit and scrutinise the decision, demonstrates that the government only cares about its financial interests.”