On 11th May 2024, the Australian government said it would ban live sheep exports by sea from May 2028, as it had promised to phase out this cruel practice. Legislation to enact the ban would be introduced in the federal parliament’s current term. However, the phase-out does not apply to other farmed animals, such as live cow exports, or does it apply to live sheep exports by air, so this is not a complete ban on live animal exports as has been reported.

A $107 million compensation would be offered over five years as a transition package to support sheep farmers.  Murray Watt, Agriculture Minister, said, “We are giving certainty to sheep producers and the supply chain by legislating the date…We are putting support on the table now so that people can start planning and acting now.”

In the early 2000s, Australia’s live sheep trade transported by sea about 5 million sheeps a year, mostly from Western Australian farms, but the number gradually declined. In 2023, Australia exported 684,000 sheeps, worth about $50 million, mostly to the Middle East (a trip in which the animals are confined in ships for about two weeks). Kuwait, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are the main destinations.

The live animal export is a very cruel practice that should be banned anywhere in the world. In March 2024, many cows were reported to have died in a live export ship from Australia. The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) received a voluntary notification of animals’ mortalities on the ship Brahman Express, a Luxembourg-registered purpose-built farmed animal carrier operated by the Dutch company Vroon. The vessel has a capacity of around 4,500 feeder cows or 2,200 heavier-weight cows.

Investigators from  Animals Australia obtained footage a few years ago showing Australian bovines being slaughtered at 11 abattoirs in Indonesia with practices that infringed upon OIE standards for animal welfare.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.