Export animal cruelty inquiry

By Country News

Allegations animal activists may have paid whistleblowers to fabricate shocking footage from live sheep export ships will be investigated by the Federal Government.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said his department would look into how footage of an infamous 2017 voyage was obtained, after reports a ship worker offered to make conditions worse for the sheep.

Animals Australia, who released the video which rocked the industry when it was broadcast nationally, urged him not to do anything to increase the suffering of sheep.

‘‘Whilst the department examined all 800-plus pieces of footage at the time, it can’t hurt to investigate,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

‘‘If animals were deliberately mistreated for even one piece of footage, those responsible must be brought to justice.’’

Mr Littleproud said sweeping reforms to the live export trade were based on science rather than the footage of the Awassi Express.

‘‘The industry had 10 consignments in which more than two per cent of the sheep died in the past 10 years,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ll continue to stay the course on these reforms — my office is methodically working through the reform process with stakeholders.’’

Mr Littleproud said the government might consider the best way to ensure that anyone taking action which could reasonably be expected to cause cruelty to animals being exported was punishable.

‘‘We need to make sure all animal cruelty is stamped out regardless of the motivation behind it,’’ he said.

Animals Australia defended whistleblower Fazal Ullah, saying he had obtained indisputable evidence of abuse, corroborated by other workers on the ship who were also concerned about animal welfare.