No plans to shut down sheep exports: Joyce

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Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he's not about to shut down exports of live sheep to Jordan following the latest revelations of animal cruelty.

Senator Joyce said Jordan was Australia's third biggest market for live sheep exports and halting that trade would only harm Australian producers without stopping animals being killed.

He said some of the sheep depicted on ABC television on Wednesday were Australian, although others weren't.

"I am not going to be part and process of replicating what we did with the Indonesian live cattle trade and shutting it down. That would be an extremely poor position for Australia to be in," he told ABC television on Thursday.

Senator Joyce said animals would still be slaughtered in the Middle East but they just wouldn't be Australian.

"We would create instead an effect on the income-earning capacity of people who are currently dealing with issues such as the drought and shutting down another industry for Australia that can't afford to have an industry shut down."

The video was taken by Animals Australia investigators during the Eid religious festival in Jordan in mid-October. It shows sheep being dragged along the ground, thrown into car boots and carved open at the throat.

Animals Australia says 10,000 Australian sheep were sold outside the current Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS), introduced to make exporters responsible for animal welfare throughout the supply chain.

Senator Joyce said his department is now seeking to find out what happened.

"We have designed a system to try as much as we can to deal with this issue so that Australian sheep are not treated in this way," he said.

"What we have to also make sure is we don't over-react."

Senator Joyce said ESCAS isn't failing and the trade had to be managed, not shut down.

"Incidents will occur from time to time. This instance is confronting and has to be dealt with. It is working and I have full confidence that my department is currently seeing how this leakage occurred."

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said on-selling of Australian animals to private buyers for slaughter was strictly prohibited and action needed to be taken against the exporter, Jordanian-owned firm Livestock Shipping Services.

She said public calls for an end to live animal exports would only increase if the government failed to take strong action.

"I understand from Animals Australia that a complaint about this company had already been lodged with the Department in June as 26 locations had been found to be selling sheep exported from Australia outside approved supply chains," she said in a statement.

"This latest breach clearly reveals that when the Department does not act companies involved in the live export trade become serial offenders."

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