The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) condemns the barbaric practices in the live sheep trade exposed by 60 Minutes and calls for stronger regulation to stamp out animal cruelty.
The MUA call on the Federal Government to temporarily ban the live export of sheep until such time as they convene a meeting with Farmers, Livestock Industry, Logistics Companies, Unions and Animal Welfare Groups to determine if there is a solution that involves humane treatment and transport of animals involved.
The first job of this group is to determine if the industry has short or long term future.
If the solution involves phasing out of live exports then the Federal Government should provide an industry restructuring package to allow workers and farmers to transition into the value adding meat exports sector.
If there is a long term future for live exports then much tougher regulation must apply to animal welfare and importantly for the welfare of seafarers responsible for carrying this cargo. This should include consideration of Australian ships operated by Australian crews under Australian legislation that governs livestock transport for the export market.
Many of the problems exist because the animals are transported on substandard vessels crewed by foreign crew who have little knowledge or understanding of Australian law and who are often exploited themselves. Many of these crew are mistreated and work in terrible conditions.
In any case if the trade continues over the short or long term then independent inspectors must closely monitor the trade from farm gate to the final destination overseas.
Properly accredited independent observers must ensure compliance with the rules to protect both animals and seafarers.
We congratulate the community for making such an impassioned stand on the barbaric practices and inhumane treatment of livestock destined for the overseas market however we ask that they also consider the treatment of seafarers working on these vessels, which unfortunately is not much better.