Liberal MP Sussan Ley Introduces Private Members Bill To Ban Live Sheep Exports

"The litany of animal cruelty in the live sheep trade makes a mockery of the industry's 'no fear no pain' mantra," Ley said.

What you need to know
  • Sussan Ley has introduced a private members bill to ban live sheep exports
  • shadow agricultural minister Joel Fitzgibbon told the ABC he'd recommend supporting it to Labor
  • Live exports account for just 6 percent of all sheep and lamb exports

A bill aimed at shutting down live sheep exports appears to be gaining crossbench support, after a government back bencher declared the controversial industry's future is in 'terminal decline.'

Introduced by backbencher Sussan Ley on Monday, the bill to ban parts of the trade was supported by fellow coalition MPs Jason Woods and Sarah Henderson, while some opposition MPs have also indicated they would support it.

"I have been shocked, angered, bewildered and disappointed," Ley told parliament while speaking of her research into the live export industry.

"I have researched the science, the facts, the economics and the opinions. I have not allowed emotion to overcome reason. The case for continuing long haul live sheep exports fails on both economic and welfare grounds."

It comes after Agricultural Minister David Littleproud accepted all 23 recommendations made by the McCarthy Review into the live sheep export trade.

"Just more than a month ago, I saw footage that shocked and angered me and all Australians," he said last week.

"The community was understandably outraged. It was time this industry became transparent and accountable."

However, Ley said the recommendations do not go far enough, pointing out that a 60kg sheep will be allocated extra space equivalent to just two A4 pieces of paper.

"The litany of animal cruelty in the live sheep trade makes a mockery of the industry's 'no fear no pain' mantra," she said.

"If the rules were actually enforced -- access to feed, water and rest, avoiding high heat stress, no commercial operator would undertake the trade."

She says that exporters simply do not comply with Australian legislation, and that farmers have been deceived by the export industry for 33 years.

"As one WA consultant to the trade told me, regulations written on paper in Australia cease to mean anything once the ship departs."

The bill would see an immediate suspension on live exports to the Middle East during the hottest months of July, August and September.

The entire trade would be phased out over a five year period.

It's looking like the bill will also have the support of Labor, with shadow agricultural minister Joel Fitzgibbon told ABC Radio he'll be making that recommendation to the party room.

"I have no doubt that the bill reflects the view of the broader Labor Party and on that basis I'm very confident that the party room will embrace the bill," he said.

It's believed the Liberal party room will discuss the bill on Tuesday.

Currently, live exports account for just 6 percent of all sheep and lamb exports, with demand coming from its cheap retail price in Kuwait and Qatar, rather than cultural or refrigeration reasons.