Australians may
think of themselves as animal lovers, yet our laws allow many animals
to suffer a lifetime of cruelty in the name of profit.

We are well behind world’s best practice in this area, particularly Europe.

millions of farmed animals such as pigs or chickens are still confined
in restrictive cages that prevent them from moving, caring for their
young, or acting out their innate instincts. They are forced to endure
painful procedures such as de-beaking and castration.

companion animals like dogs are farmed en masse in cruel puppy farms
and backyard breeding facilities to supply cheap puppies to pet shops
and through classifieds. Dogs are kept in filthy conditions, bred
continuously and then discarded.

Australia is the
largest exporter of animals for slaughter; it sends 4 million live
sheep to the Middle East every year. There is no question that this
practice is cruel.

During the harrowing four-week
journey animals crammed on boats commonly suffer heat stress and
diseases such as scabby mouth, pink eye and salmonellosis.

Each year thousands die during the journey; more than 40,000 died last year.

animals that do survive the trip are cruelly dealt with in countries
that either lack animal welfare laws, or else do not enforce them.

Livestock are handled and slaughtered in ways that not only are illegal in Australia, but would shock and appal most people.

the live exports industry continues to maintain that it is working to
ensure animal protection and argues that its existence prevents worse
treatment of animals by other potential suppliers.

Yet live exports do little for the Australian economy.

report by ACIL Tasman in October showed that each sheep processed
domestically for meat is worth 20 per cent more to the Australian
economy than a live export sheep, due to the potential to add value
from processing in Australia.

The report showed that
for every $100 of output created by the West Australian live export
industry, the state’s gross state product is $81 higher, but it is
$101.50 higher if the meat is processed locally.

phase-out of the cruel live sheep export trade will have long term
benefits for the Australian economy if the trade is replaced with
chilled meat exports, and an increase in processed meat exports will
discourage importing countries from seeking live imports elsewhere.

number of strategies could be used to achieve this substitution and
level the present uneven playing field between live exports and meat
exports from Australia.

Governments could lobby
importer countries to remove the 5 per cent tariff on frozen sheep
meat, and to either reduce their subsidies on live sheep or also apply
them to processed products. Governments and industry could better
promote Australian processed sheep meat products, including the 40
halal-accredited abattoirs in the country.

Zealand recently negotiated a free trade agreement with Bahrain, Oman,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, countries to
which Australia exports live animals. This country should negotiate a
similar agreement.

Consumer preferences in the
Middle East are already beginning to shift. Younger, more urbanised
populations are leading a move away from freshly slaughtered meat and
towards supermarkets and their products. In Saudi Arabia 66 per cent of
the population is under 30, and 70 per cent of grocery sales are now
handled by the modern retail sector.

While there are
people who would prefer that animals did not have to be killed at all,
the substitution of live exports with domestic Australian meat
processing would mean humane treatment and humane slaughter for
Australian sheep.

Without this change, millions of sheep will continue to suffer the cruelty of the live export trade every year.

knowledge that live exports are not only cruel but also cost the
economy means everyone should support ending them. It’s a no-brainer.

Clover Moore is the Lord Mayor and state Member for Sydney.