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In a world-leading move, the New Zealand Government has announced a ban on live cattle exports by sea, with a two-year period to phase out the trade.

The decision follows a heartbreaking event in September last year which saw a New Zealand live export ship capsize and sink off the coast of Japan due to a cyclone. The ship was on the way to China with a shipment of New Zealand cows. The 5,867 cows on board died at sea. 41 of the 43 crew members, including two New Zealanders, also lost their lives. The ship had a history of mechanical breakdowns, and pictures of the appalling conditions for the animals on board were published by the media.

Prior to this disaster, the New Zealand Government was already reviewing its live export policies. This review, announced in June 2019, considered a range of options – from improving existing systems to a complete ban.

In a response to the news, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Water and the Environment David Littleproud said the phasing out of New Zealand animal exports by sea is a matter for the New Zealand Government and Australia has no plans to suspend or ban live animal exports.

Disappointed with this response, Animal Welfare League NSW applauds the courage of the New Zealand Government to identify the need to reform policies to ensure the best welfare outcomes are achieved for livestock.

“In a place and time when animal welfare issues are garnering major eyeballs worldwide, we believe it is about time that we realise and respect the significance and relevance of ensuring stringent welfare policies around livestock in Australia.” Animal Welfare League NSW CEO Mark Slater said.

He adds, “It is also of utmost importance that our government puts together an effective legislation in place that supports and encourages our farmers’ economic health while maintaining the sanctity of animal welfare policies.

We should create a positive culture of encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box thinking that will create an environment conducive to economic well-being and greater animal welfare outcomes. We would welcome all opportunities to participate in advising policymaking and finding a way forward from here. “.

If you agree that it is time to see an end to live export in Australia, please write to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources—the Hon. David Littleproud MP.

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