Middle East live sheep export review report delay prompts criticism

Sheep Central, May 16, 2018

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

AUSTRALIA’S Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud will release the McCarthy Review into northern summer Middle East live sheep shipments tomorrow, Sheep Central has been told.

The McCarthy Review’s report into northern summer sheep shipments was due to be released at 9am today, but Sheep Central has been told a Federal Cabinet decision yesterday delayed its release.

It is believed Mr Littleproud’s initial response to the report’s recommendations was not accepted by fellow Nationals and rural Liberal members at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Social media reports have also pointed to disagreement among Liberal and National Party cabinet members over Mr Littleproud’s proposed response to the McCarthy report.

No statement has been issued from Mr Littleproud’s office, but Sheep Central believed the minister had been given until next week to come up with a response acceptable to all Coalition cabinet members. However, a spokesman for Mr Littleproud this morning told Sheep Central the review report and Mr Littleproud’s response to its recommendations will be released tomorrow.

Mr Littleproud has said the “short sharp” review by Queensland veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy will consider stocking density on ships, bedding and animal waste management, ventilation and heat stress risk. It will also identify any improvements in how the current Australian Standards for Export of Livestock can be administered or executed, and consider vessel crew requirements for managing animal health and welfare, contingency planning and reporting.

The Federal Opposition has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to lead on live exports after the McCarthy Review’s report release was delayed.

Labor’s Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said Cabinet’s delay of the McCarthy Review report was a sign of dysfunction within the  Coalition.

“Division in the Turnbull Government has further delayed the release of the ‘short sharp’ review into the live sheep trade – with every day of delay another day that sheep are sent into treacherous northern summer conditions.

“Already late, the review is looking more tenuous and torturous than short and sharp,” he said.

“When will Turnbull show leadership and act on live sheep exports?

“Sheep continue to leave port for the Middle East and the northern summer is upon us,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable for the Government to use the ongoing review as an excuse for failing to act.

“We don’t need the McCarthy Review to know the summer trade must end as soon as possible,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“It is past time Malcolm Turnbull showed some leadership on this issue.

“Four industry reviews is not what the community is looking for; they are demanding action from government.”

MacTiernan reiterates WA state law action possibility

The McCarthy Review report’s delayed released prompted Western Australia’s Minister for Regional Development Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan to today declare: “The Federal Government is clearly unable to make a decision on how to deal with this complex problem.

“There was much posturing after the screening of footage on 60 Minutes – but now, more than five weeks on, absolutely no action,” she said.

“Minister Littleproud must release the McCarthy Review immediately, even if his Government cannot agree on the recommendations.

“The high summer months are only six weeks away, and industry and markets will need at least that time to divert supply chains if there is a reduction or pause in trade,” she said.

“The State Government is getting legal advice on what powers are available to the state, to regulate the summer trade using the WA Animal Welfare Act.”

WAFarmers president Tony York said he was surprised by the review release delay and would “wait and see” until tomorrow before making further comment. He hoped to attend an unconfirmed “lock-up” to consider the report with other farmer leaders and animal welfare organisations tomorrow morning.


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  1. Jennifer Macdougall, May 16, 2018

    So the government is going to allow the trade to go on in the hot summer months, knowing that untold numbers of sheep will die of heat stress? When they are still dying in the cooler months; some 487 animals on just the first two ships reported on, enough said. We will have to really ramp up the campaign now against this government as it clearly will do nothing to stop the suffering of hundreds, if not thousands, of animals.

  2. Jennifer Macdougall, May 16, 2018

    So the report was not to the Nats and Cabinet’s liking, so go back and fix it? So now it is already discredited and animals are continuing to die on ships, even before the northern summer extreme temperatures hit, and even with the 17.5pc reduced stock density Emanuel’s was told to implement. So the government obviously cannot guarantee that large numbers of sheep will not die of heat stress over the next four months, even at that lower density. As the science has already shown, even 50pc will still see animals suffer heat stress, so forget about reviews. We know the facts and the science. Just stop the boats leaving from June through to September and then let us have a royal commission into the whole live trade. There are so many question that have now to be answered, not the least being: Who is actually responsible for the animals after a ship leaves our waters? There are holes in the liability for the welfare of the animals that you can sail a ship through. And it is time to look at the long-haul cattle shipments and shipment of wild buffalo – some not very nice stories there too.

  3. Jan Kendall, May 16, 2018

    Spot on Joel Fitzgibbon!

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