About 400 caring Tasmanians gathered today at Franklin Square in Hobart today, joining a national day of outrage against Australia’s brutal live export trade. The rally sent out a powerful message to politicians that decent Australians will never vote for any who do not stand up against the live export trade, and many thousands more Australians gathered in similar protests in all the capital cities.

Organised by Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania, the rally was addressed by Denison Independent member Andrew Wilkie, Brightside’s Emma Haswell, AACT’s Neon Lang, and Suzanne Cass from the Animal Justice Party. Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne attended and her support was warmly welcomed.

“12 months ago, Australians hung their heads in shame and despair in the face of atrocities committed against our animals in Indonesia”, said the AJP’s Suzanne Cass. “Today, we came together again after another series of atrocities against our sheep in the Middle East, and the flashpoint was the horrifically suffering sheep in Pakistan, who left Australia on August 4.

“The sheep in Pakistan, exported by Wellards, left the Australian winter climate, and were rejected on disease grounds by Bahrain On the Ocean Drover, they drifted aimlessly in searing temperatures around the Middle East before a deal was done with Pakistan to unload them. They have been being brutally ‘culled’ in Pakistan, reportedly by stabbing, clubbing, and burying alive, and it is believed that 10,000 of the 21,000 landed in Pakistan remain. The disaster is reminiscent of the Cormo Express incident in 2003, when tens of thousands of the sheep on board died after being rejected by Saudi Arabia after being at sea for almost three months. The government said it would “never happen again”.

As well as animals exported for slaughter, it has come to light that animals exported for breeding purposes are terribly abused as well, and these animals are not covered by the Government’s new, but failed, regulatory system. An expose from Qatar saw dairy and breeding cattle dying of hunger, dehydration and heat exhaustion, and thousands of cattle have been exported to Indonesia as breeding; cattle, but were slaughtered because progeny documentation was not provided. Animal advocates claim that these animals are being exported as breeding animals to go under the radar of the regulatory system, but are being slaughtered. Likewise in Egypt, thousands of cattle were rejected because they had been fed hormone growth promotants.

“On the best information available, we believe that Tasmanian sheep continue to be exported to the Middle East by first shipping them to Victoria and even possibly trucking them to Adelaide”, said Ms Cass.

“This trade has cost tens of thousands of local meat processing jobs, and benefits the very few, and those few have an extraordinary power over this pathetically weak government”, she continued. “Australia’s two major parties really need to understand that hundreds of thousands of decent, hardworking Australians are deeply, deeply ashamed, and they will lose those hundreds of thousands of votes in the next election. Neither of the major parties is any better than the other about this horrific animal torture,” Ms Cass concluded.