Live exports won’t be banned in coming months
There will be no ban on live sheep exports to the Middle East over the northern summer this year.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud will release the McCarthy review into the trade in Sydney tomorrow.
The ABC can confirm there will be no end to the summer trade, despite the RSPCA and Australian Veterinary Association saying there is no way to protect sheep against potentially fatal heat stress.
The Government set up the McCarthy review into the summer trading of sheep to the Middle East after the broadcast of shocking footage of sheep dying and suffering heat stress during voyages last year.
These images prompted widespread demands for an end to the northern summer live export trade to the Middle East.
The live sheep trade is worth $249 million a year.
The ABC understands the McCarthy review has come up with a complex stocking formula, and that it was Cabinet's request for more scientific advice about that formula that prevented the report being released today.
It is understood that air-conditioning for sheep is not considered an option.
Australia's major live sheep exporter, Emanuel Exports, last month agreed to interim government demands for an independent observer to accompany shipments and for a 17.5 per cent increase in the space allocated for sheep.
It was an Emanuel Exports consignment on the Awassi Express last year which saw 2,400 sheep die, sparking the current crisis.
In its submission to the McCarthy review, the Australian Veterinary Association called for an end to live sheep exports to the Middle East between May and October, and a 30 per cent increase in space for sheep throughout the year.
The RSPCA has called for a doubling of space for animals.
Canavan calls for calm before decision is made
Livestock exporters said any suspension of the trade over the northern summer would make Australia an unreliable supplier, and would lead to the trade's end.
Nationals frontbencher Matt Canavan said the Government needs to carefully consider any changes to the industry.
"The key thing we would like to avoid is making the same mistake that we made in the past — that was made by the Labor government and repeated by the Labor Opposition today — not to make a kneejerk response here," Mr Canavan said.
"This is an industry that employs thousands of people."
But Federal Labor — which has promised a phasing out of the live sheep industry if it is elected to office — is demanding the Government respond immediately to the report.
"If there is no government response with the report, if and when it's released tomorrow, then the uncertainty will continue," Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said.
"We are now basically into the northern summer. Ships are leaving port as we speak. The Government's had five weeks to ensure or guarantee animal welfare standards.
"Tomorrow, we don't just need a report, we need a government response."
On Monday, Coalition MP Sussan Ley will introduce legislation into Federal Parliament which seeks to phase out the live sheep trade.