Live Export

Back floats ‘more people than livestock died’ defence of live export

Sheep Central, November 10, 2016
Senator Chris Back

Senator Chris Back

A COMPARISON of livestock to human deaths in Australia during the six years to 2015 has been used to defeat the latest parliamentary attack on the live export of sheep and cattle.

A Greens motion to end the live export of livestock from Australia was defeated in the Senate today. Senators yesterday rejected the motion from Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon by 43 votes to 9.

Senator Rhiannon said 839 cattle and 4301 sheep had died on ships in the six months from January to June 2016. However, in opposing the motion on behalf of the Federal Government, Senator Chris Back said the number of cattle exported during this time period was 590,993 and the mortality rate was 0.14 percent.

“That is 1.4 cattle per 1,000. This mortality rate is far less than the rate at which beef cattle die at home on the rangelands,” Senator Back said.

He said 829,860 sheep were transported during this period, with a loss recorded of 0.5pc or 5 sheep per 1000.

Senator Rhiannon also said the livestock losses over the six years from 2009 to 2015 were 147,969, or 406 animals per week over this period; however, Senator Back said in a media release after that vote the fact that during this time 406 people have died in Australia per day, or 1,038,000 people, highlighted “the lack of context” in the animal loss figures.

Senator Lee Rhiannon

Senator Lee Rhiannon

Senator Rhiannon’s motion also said that mortality is no indicator of morbidity or the number of animals who suffer on lengthy live export voyages.

Livestock deaths at sea are so accepted by the industry and government that on every consignment, 1pc of cattle and 2pc of sheep can die without triggering a government investigation and not one exporter has ever had its licence revoked despite “continuing and horrific breaches” of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, she said in the motion. The Greens motion called on the Federal Government to end the live export trade and work to expand the trade in boxed chilled meat.

In parliament, Senator Back said senators might be interested to learn that human beings in this place die at the rate of 0.6 per cent, a higher rate than either cattle or sheep.

“Senator Rhiannon is quite right in terms of morbidity, because livestock actually put on weight during the journey.

“But what is interesting is that Senator Rhiannon in her motion speaks about the fact that 406 animals have been dying on the ships per week,” he said.

“It might be of some interest to learn that 406 humans in Australia die per day.”

Senator Back said in the media release that animal activists consistently refuse to acknowledge that the Australian livestock industry has significantly lifted standards of livestock management, welfare and husbandry during transport and in Australia’s target markets.

“Australian exporters, Meat & Livestock Australia representatives and Department of Agriculture officials amongst others have been active for many years improving animal handling standards, not only of Australian supplied livestock but locally bred stock and those imported from other countries,” Senator Back said.

“Australian animal handling and husbandry practices are the envy of the world.

“We export quality products to countries that pay to receive their animals in a clean, healthy and timely manner,” he said.

Senator Rhiannon is the Greens spokesperson for animal welfare and leads the party’s campaign to end live exports in favour of a transition domestic meat processing.


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