500 Aussie sheep at horror market

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Animals Australia claims sheep outside approved supply chains in Kuwait face unnecessarily cruel deaths.
Camera IconAnimals Australia claims sheep outside approved supply chains in Kuwait face unnecessarily cruel deaths. Credit: The West Australian

Animals Australia has branded laws aimed at preventing cruelty in the live export industry a sham after making a series of complaints about a notorious market in the Middle East.

It is lobbying Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to direct WA-based exporters to retrieve about 500 sheep from the market in Kuwait in the wake of its latest investigation.

“Barnaby Joyce needs to direct exporters to buy these animals back from merchants,” AA chief invest-igator Lyn White said yesterday.

“Every day they are on sale at this market they will be purchased, tied up and shoved into car boots in 50C temperatures before being brutally slaughtered.”

The Department of Agriculture has contacted the exporters about the allegations. AA estimates it would cost the exporters about $50,000 to buy back the sheep and return them to supply chains approved by Australian authorities.

The latest complaint about Al Rai market comes as WA exporters enter a peak period for shipment to the Middle East in the lead-up to the Eid festival.

The sheep represent a fraction of the 343,282 head exported to Kuwait so far this year.

Harrowing scenes of sheep being abused at the Al Rai market in 2010 contributed to Australia introducing the exporter supply chain assurance system (ESCAS) to prevent cruelty.

AA has visited the Al Rai market twice a year since ESCAS was introduced and found Australian sheep being sold illegally each time.

It has made six official complaints to the department but cannot stop the flow of Australian sheep.

The department is assessing four complaints about Kuwait and three investigations have been completed.

It has at least 34 reports of possible ESCAS breaches involving multiple countries under assessment.

Investigations regularly take up to 18 months to complete.

Ms White said it took just weeks to prosecute a case when film star Johnny Depp’s dogs were caught up in a quarantine breach.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said investigations into complex supply chains in overseas markets were “a different proposition to alleged breaches of Australian biosecurity laws on Australian soil”.

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