INDEPENDENT MP Andrew Wilkie has introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that would ban the live export of both cattle and sheep.

The Live Animal Export Prohibition (Ending Cruelty) Bill 2018 was seconded by Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Mr Wilkie, a prominent critic of the industry for many years, cited several examples of cruelty including the case of sheep suffering from heat on board the Awassi Express.

“What we saw on the Awassi Express recently was awful cruelty being suffered by tens of thousands of Australian sheep on a vessel in which more than 2000 sheep died,” Mr Wilkie told the house.

“That wasn’t a one-off. That wasn’t just a rogue exporter or a rogue operator of one bad ship. That was a snapshot of what is typical in the live animal export trade. It is systematically cruel.”

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Mr Wilkie said the live export sector was also not in Australia’s best economic interest.

“Every time we send a vessel with thousands of beef cattle or sheep overseas, we’re sending the jobs overseas that could have been established in Australia to process those animals in a more carefully regulated way in which any cruelty would be minimised or removed,” he said.

“We send those jobs overseas; so it’s not in Australia’s economic self-interest.”

Mr Wilkie noted the “exposes of cruelty” in countries as diverse as those in South-East Asia and in South Asia.

“And then there are all the exposes out of the Middle East—a whole range of countries there—and in countries there that we might not expect, like Israel and Turkey,” he said.

“Indeed, in the time I’ve been in this place, there have been countless exposes—so many exposes that it is clear that there is systemic cruelty in the live animal export trade and that the only way to end the cruelty is to end the trade.”

Supporters of the trade argue the industry can be cleaned up and that if Australia stops live exporting then the niche will be filled by nations with even worse animal cruelty records.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud has been prominent in seeking to save the live export business while also pushing hard for behavioural changes.

Previous private members’ bills have failed to end the trade.

Mr Wilkie’s speech to the House of Representatives can be viewed in its entirety here.

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