AGRICULTURE minister David Littleproud says he has written to the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council demanding to know when new technology can be installed on live export ships.

Dehumidifiers and improved ventilation are seen as means of possibly improving conditions for sheep onboard ships bound for the Middle East in hot conditions.

Images of sheep enduring horrendous conditions on board the ship Awassi Express triggered an industry crisis earlier in the year when broadcast upon national television.

According to Mr Littleproud’s office, the trade has been aware of concerns since 2003 over the welfare of live sheep travelling to the Middle East between May to October.

Moreover, ALEC chair Simon Crean was reported to have stated in May there was support for the industry moving to an animal welfare model, rather than simply measuring mortalities:

“The industry did the science which helped create the heat stress model, but they haven’t done the work on the solution,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Why hasn’t ALEC led the industry transition? ALEC needs to tell me when they’re going to have the solution. Farmers need to know what progress exactly has been made on this solution and on implementing it. I’m on the side of the farmers here.”

Mr Littleproud also delivered a strong message to the international shipping sector.

“Ship owners and exporters should not run away from Australia to run ships on live export routes elsewhere in the world, following research about live shipments into the Middle Eastern Summer,” the minister said.

“The pork industry are phasing out sow stalls because they’ve moved with the expectations of society and the market. Other agricultural industries recognise the need to do this.

“Some 35 pieces of research on heat stress have been completed by live export research body LiveCorp. ALEC exporters are years behind their own research. Time is against us.

“I’m also concerned ALEC and members were given research five years ago showing public attitudes against the industry were at crisis point and true transparency and animal welfare indicators were urgently needed. Why has this not been acted on?”

Minister Littleproud’s letter requested answers by the end of the week.

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