Australia might send live animals to Iran and Bahrain again

February 10, 2014
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Just when you thought you had finally recovered from that horrific Four Corners video about the mistreatment of cattle in Indonesia, news has spread that the Abbott government is thinking about resuming live sheep exports to Iran and Bahrain.  

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is reportedly packing his bags for a trip to the two Middle Eastern countries, where Aussie livestock is clearly in high demand – apparently to the tune of 1.3 million and 400,000 sheep respectively per year. The conditions for any export arrangements are currently unclear. Bahrain hasn’t been a live sheep export destination for Australian producers since it refused 20,000 Aussie sheep for having scabby mouth in 2012.

The sick sheep were subsequently slaughtered by Pakistani authorities… despite the vocal protests of export company Wellard which reportedly did everything in its power to prevent the mass cull, according to the Federal Department of Agriculture’s official investigation. This slaughter reportedly only occurred after Wellard employees were escorted away at gunpoint by Pakistani police and lost control of the sheep compound.

As for Iran, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council expects the current boycott on live exports to Iran (imposed 30 years ago on political grounds) will soon be lifted, following five years of negotiations.

Live exports have been an ongoing and divisive issue for the last few years due to ongoing cruelty scandals in destination countries, such as Jordan and Indonesia, and that award-winning 'Bloody Business' report by Four Corners in 2011.

The uproar that followed the Four Corners airing expose was intense, and the issue continues to prompt animal rights activists to demand a ban on live exports. Minister Joyce remains unconvinced, and even made a slight dig at the expense of animal activists in an interview to the West Australian about his efforts to open up the trade further.  “I must be going all right, because every day I open my inbox and there are hundreds of people who hate my guts, predominantly animal activists,” he said. 

Kristen Daly