Directors of live export companies could face multi-million dollar fines and lengthy jail sentences for animal welfare abuses, under tough new legislation to be introduced into Federal Parliament.
Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud is expected to announce a raft of hefty new penalties for the industry this week, following a review into the live exports sector.
Mr Littleproud called the review after a recent incident where more than 2400 sheep died from heat stress on route to the Middle East.
While he supports the live export industry, Mr Littleproud has indicated there must be a change of culture within the industry.
He is expected to announce new penalties totalling millions of dollars and potential jail time of up to 10 years for directors of live export companies found guilty of animal welfare abuse.
“If you do the wrong thing, you are going to swing,” Mr Littleproud told Sky News.
“And I am going to reach further than ever before and hold the directors of these companies to account if they are knowledgeable of malpractice.
“We are going to lift penalties and I will be making an announcement in the coming week when the legislation is finalised.”
Calls for live export ban
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, says a Labor Government would work toward a complete phasing out of live exports for the industry over “a number of years.”
However, he indicated the Opposition is likely to support tougher new penalties in lieu of a total ban.
“It’s an industry in decline, he said. “It’s just not sustainable in the long term.”
Green groups are also calling for a total ban – or at very least a ban on live exports during the Northern Hemisphere summer to help prevent heat stress on animals.
The Australian Live Exporters Council (ALEC) is expected to review the new government legislation before making comment.