Animals Australia and 60 Minutes have hit back at claims made by Barnaby Joyce in Parliament today that an unnamed source paid a whistleblower for the footage of sheep suffering onboard the Awassi Express live export ship earlier this year.
Mr Joyce claimed a ship worker was paid $200,000 for the footage, which was televised by 60 Minutes in April.
“We've been doing some digging around here. Who did take that footage on the Awassi Express? Who was the person who took that footage? Where was that person?,” Mr Joyce said.
“The information I have is that it was the person who was actually responsible for looking after the sheep. That is the person who took the footage. He is now residing in Pakistan, after receiving about $200,000.”
A spokesman for the Nine network said 60 Minutes said they made no payments.
“It is important to correct the record following false statements that 60 Minutes paid money to a whistleblower who filmed a live export sheep shipment late last year,” a Nine spokesman said.
“Those statements are completely wrong. No payment of any kind was made.”
Animals Australia said in a statement that neither it, nor 60 Minutes, provided payment for footage.
“Barnaby Joyce clearly didn’t get the memo from the new Agriculture Minister that it’s time to stop shooting the messenger and to respect and protect the role of whistle-blowers,” the statement said.
Mr Joyce maintained his claims were accurate, but did not specify who paid the whistleblower.
“In my speech I never actually nominated who made payments, nor am I going to disclose my sources, but I have checked and triple checked what has been reported to me by a well informed source,” Mr Joyce said outside of parliament this afternoon.
Since 60 Minutes program the trade entered itself into a voluntary moratorium on shipments during the three hottest months during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
A Fairfax Agricultural Media investigation in April indicated that despite the sensational footage from the Awassi Express, it was in fact a well-managed voyage that ran into a freak natural disaster.