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RSPCA has concerns about Agriculture representatives

Controversy involving dead sheep.

The concerns come following the RSPCA’s meeting with Australian Government Department of Agriculture representatives yesterday.

“It beggars belief that the very ship at the centre of this scandal is moored in Fremantle as we speak, and may yet be issued with a new export permit this week, with minimal additional terms,” said RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones.

“At this stage, we expect the department will ask for a token reduction in stocking density, just one additional stockperson on board, and just one departmental observer on board who is paid for by the exporter,

“In other words, the Department appears to be still accepting that sheep on a three to four week journey don’t all need to lie down, and don’t need easy access to food and water – which is clearly preposterous,

“Anyone who has seen this footage will immediately know these futile measures are like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic – it simply won’t make a difference,

“Stocking density would need to be at least halved to make any kind of meaningful difference, that’s the fact that’s backed by science,

“This level of bureaucratic response, given the scale and seriousness of this evidence, is woefully inadequate and, frankly, very alarming,

“The RSPCA is becoming critically concerned that the regulator has not only failed farmers and the community in the past, but appears unable to perform its role correctly, even under such intense scrutiny,

“It’s very clear why an adequate response to animal welfare concerns in live export has been lacking for so long,

“Let’s be clear – the job of the regulator should not be to promote, advocate for or facilitate this industry,

“As the regulator, their role is to enforce the regulations as they stand,

“We would strongly emphasise our earlier message – we believe that, given the overwhelming evidence, the Secretary for Agriculture does not have the legal or regulatory mandate to issue another permit for the long-haul live export of sheep,

“The conditions required for this permit can simply not be satisfied,” said Dr Jones.

“We have to keep asking, why are we doing this? Why are we going to these extraordinary lengths to facilitate a trade that’s destroying our international reputation, causing thousands of Australian animals to suffer and die, and offers very little actual benefit to farmers?,

“When it’s opposed by the vast majority of the community – it just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

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