Government ministers reject live export ban, as Australians protest and more reports of animals in distress come to light. Please see the following two articles for the full stories.
MPs reject live export ban
Australia government supports trade continuation
Two separate bids to end live animal exports have failed to win the support of a single government or opposition MP in Australia’s parliament.
The first, a private Bill by independent MP Andrew Wilkie, aimed to phase out the trade by 2014. The second Bill, initiated by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt, sought an immediate ban.
Mr Wilkie said the live animal export trade was unethical. "How much more evidence does the Government or the Opposition need to see before they wind up live exports?" he asked parliament before the vote.
But the MP's call fell on deaf ears with only Mr Bandt backing his crossbench colleague.
Mr Wilkie returned the favour when it came to a vote on Mr Bandt's private Bill. "The vote may go down but it'll be one of those instances where Labor and Liberal are out of step with what people think," the Greens MP said ahead of the vote.
The RSPCA and Animals Australia are expected to release new footage of ill-treatment of Australian livestock in Turkey later today.
About a dozen people, huddled under umbrellas, gathered outside Parliament House for a silent vigil in support of a ban on live exports.
Mr Wilkie also called on Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, to reprimand Chris Back over the Liberal senator's questioning of Animals Australia during an upper house inquiry hearing earlier in August. Senator Back suggested a taxi driver used by the animal welfare organisation had paid Indonesian meat workers to abuse cattle for footage that was later used for a Four Corners report.
Subsequent public outcry led to a temporary ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia.
The RSPCA says it is furious 67,000 sheep have been left stranded on a cargo ship that has broken down off Adelaide for a week. The Al Messilah left Adelaide last Tuesday, bound for Kuwait in the Middle East with the sheep on board. Shortly after it left, the ship came into engine troubles and had to return to the port last weekend.
The sheep remain onboard the carrier, while the ship is being repaired.
Chief Executive Officer of Flinders Ports, said feed was being taken out to the sheep while the boat was in the Port. "Obviously being in the port for an extra week has meant that they would need more feed cargo on board," he said. "They're doing the repairs at the moment and we would hope they'd be done in the next couple of days so they can leave."
The RSPCA claims the ship involved is one of the oldest vessels in the live export fleet. "This incident highlights the inherent risks in transporting animals over such vast distances by sea, risks that the industry has never been able to address," RSPCA CEO Heather Neil said.
"The RSPCA's immediate concern is for the animals on board and has requested access to ensure the welfare of the sheep is protected."
"The journey to the Middle East was already going to take up to 20 days and that these sheep have already been in limbo for seven days is completely unacceptable," she said.
"This is exactly the same number of sheep that were on the Cormo Express," Ms Neil said, "Whether it's trade disputes or mechanical breakdowns, animals in this trade are always at risk."
Greens NSW Senator, Lee Rhiannon said the stranded sheep is a reminder of the perils of live exports. "The welfare of the thousands of sheep contained on the Al Messilah, a former car transporter built in 1980, has been compromised before they even reach the abattoirs of the Middle East," Senator Rhiannon said.
"The spotlight is now on this vessel and the welfare of the sheep on board because it struck trouble near an Australian port. If the ship had faced problems way out at sea, would we have ever known?" she said.
Late today, the RSPCA were refused access when they attempted to board the boat.
The Federal Government suspended live trade exports two months ago, after concerns over the welfare of animals exported to Indonesia.
Only six days ago, live exports to Indonesia resumed, with the first shipment of cattle leaving the Port of Darwin.