Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Live Sheep Exports to Bahrain

The resumption of live sheep exports to Bahrain after last year’s debacle is completely inappropriate and makes no economic sense. Exports to Bahrain were suspended in August 2012, and its live shipments were replaced with about 10,000 tonnes of chilled meat. So why go backwards when we are now adding value to our exports and getting better animal welfare outcomes.

Middle Eastern consumers are turning to boxed meat and higher value products. With jobs disappearing in manufacturing the transition from live export to a chilled meat trade should more than ever be a priority.

Barnaby Joyce has stated that the live sheep trade is crucial to the Western Australian economy but World Society for the Protection of Animals research highlights a value added advantage of $7-12 associated with domestic processing rather than exporting live animals.
It is apparent the Liberal Government is not interested in animal welfare and is unwilling to take action no matter how badly animals are treated. Minister Joyce’s smug and arrogant dismissal of complaints concerning animal welfare shows he is not an appropriate Minister to safeguard animal welfare. Perhaps he doesn’t realise he has that job. Responsibility for animal welfare should be taken off him and given to a more enlightened Minister.


  1. Couldn't have said it better myself.
    Good on you Kelvin.

  2. Thank you for the update Minister Thomson and for your ongoing focus and support of animal welfare issues. Barnaby Joyce is acting disgracefully and it is very sad to hear of his disregard of the welfare of other living beings.

    1. I agree on both counts. Thank you so much for your wonderful account of where we actually are at regarding live animal export, and I believe Egypt is re-opening as well? I'm very sorry to hear that not only are the current federal government inclined to treat people disgracefully in off-short processing centres that are living hells, but continue to send our locally grown animals into living hell-ships and beyond!

  3. I couldnt have said it better. Well done Kelvin. Wish you were my MP

  4. Well said! Barnaby Joyce is a joke! He is ignoring the majority for the sake of money. Such a backwards thinking government I honestly don't know how Australia is going to survive the next 3 yrs. Hope you call him on this in parliament too.

  5. Year before last's debacle...

    Why are we even entertaining the prospect of entering into another MoU with a country (Bahrain) that not only didn't honour the first one, but which has, post-live sheep trade ban, increased chilled sheep meat imports from Australia from 229 tons to over 13,000 tons (a six THOUSAND percent increase).

    That equates to over half a million sheep who were at LEAST spared the sea voyage, and were stunned prior to being slaughtered under Australian law and Australian standards, bu Australian workers.

    The active pursuit of this market and the Iranian market for recommencement of live sheep trade shows this government has not only complete disregard for animal welfare, but also for Aussie jobs and the economy.

    From MLA: The fastest growing lamb market in the Middle East for the past fiscal year was Bahrain, with lamb exports to Bahrain totalling 9,713 tonnes swt in 2012-13 (now at over 13,000), up from 229 tonnes swt in 2011-12. The majority of Australian shipments to Bahrain have been chilled lamb carcases (97%).

    Katrina Love

  6. Thank you for this information Kelvin.

    Resuming live exports to Bahrain is another example that this government is behaving in a dictatorial manner. We can only guess at the reasons.

    I can't understand why a (supposedly) civilized country as Australia is allowing such cruelty!

    Completely distressed again.
    Karen Page

  7. Minister Thomson it was wonderful to read your speech via the WSPA Stop Live Animal Export page & I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for being intelligent enough to take the first steps toward attempting to bring this cruel & barbaric trade to an end.
    I completely agree with the above remarks by Katrina Love, this Liberal Government is showing NIL regard for the welfare & protection of animals.

    Barnaby Joyce, whom I USED to admire, needs to do his math instead of attempting to maintain the 'status quo' on this issue !!

    Please don't give up on this, we as Australians, are horrified by the scenes we are constantly witnessing from these 'FESTIVALS' in arabic countries. These people need to come out of the Stone-Age & begin developing some COMPASSION & empathy.

    Good on You Mr Thomson !!

  8. Well done!! We have a HUGE unemployment problem, and an ageing workforce problem. Combine that with a large number of first, second and subsequent generations of migrants from all over. Why cant we run an abattoir or two that can also process Halal and Kosher meats for export? I was a child in the 1960s when the abattoir was still going in Melbourne's inner suburbs (somewhere around Kensington) and we had higher rates of employment. We need to think creatively and think job creation. Stop sending work offshore wherever possible! And we need all the good hardworking refugees (who have a high motivation to establish themselves in Australia) to balance the number of people who for one reason or another (disability, lack of skills, being an unpaid carer for a relative etc) can't work in the paid workforce. And the small number of people who don't have the motivation to work. Give their kids a good education and encouragement to go on to higher education(as the recent refugees are doing in large numbers). If we don't do some major action to pull the general population away from the bottom and work towards eliminating the idle rich we are going to end up where Russia was under the Tsars and then under communism and we will end up with a Revolution in Australia. Too many unhappy people in Australia, the March in March is showing that.

  9. Several significant points you have conveniently forgotten to overlook Mr Thomson. Meat processing in Australia is already costing over double that of our nearest rival. And all those Australian jobs, well how come the abattoirs are currently screaming for workers and happy to employ 457's. What a great assumption that if we box it the product will automatically sell. It doesn't work that way and you are misleading parliament, just because markets may be Ok now doesn't mean it will stay that way. What an insulated little world you live in. I suggest you have a good look at why abattoirs are finding it so hard to make profits and its not the fault of the producer, have a good look at government regulation cost, labour costs, infrastructure and difficulty in maintining up to date equipment.It seems you think we should give our cattle to them and somehow thats actually profitable for the producers. As for animal welfare how conveniently you ignore the current drought from your services provided Melbourne seat. If you had a look up north you would realise that Live export actually allowed the movement of upwards of 10,000 head that were unable to be supplied to abattoirs because they (abattoirs) aren't running extra shifts and fodder isn't available. Barnaby Joyce gets out and meets the people who his ministry covers, You Mr Thomson like to rant from an ivory tower in a vote scoring effort. It is not efficent for abattoirs to process at full capacity, anything above 80% means greater labour, electricity and storage. not to mention actual ability to sell the product. I seem to recall you were trade minister for a short stint there, and what did you actually achieve, sweet stuff all. If you would be interested I would be happy to supply information on abattoirs in your own state which have failed because of economic factors. Absolutely nothing to do with Live export. As for underpinning the price there are also enough newspaper articles to fully realise that infact the markets for some sheep fell by 50% and specifically Damaras to nearly zero value one markets were stopped for some of those sheep. For cattle the live export market underpins the value of cattle by at least several hundred dollars per head and I know that from personal experience. The reports you base your speech on were scenerios of what WSPA would have like to occur not what actually did following the ban of 2011 when prices plummeted due to a number of factors but also because live export markets were not available.Jo Bloomfield


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  11. I agree strongly with the need to stop the live export trade but after a discussion[via Twitter] with a WA cattle producer I'm not sure that they would do better financially as your article claims. I'm led to believe that the producers receive a much larger price per head by exporting live compared to what an abattoir pays them in Australia. The implication is that there may be more jobs and profits overall by slaughter in Australia and export of meat but that the bulk of the profits go to the processors.