Nats leader lashes out at animal activists

Nats leader lashes out at animal activists


Politics
Michael McCormack says animal activists will stop at nothing to end the live sheep trade.

Michael McCormack says animal activists will stop at nothing to end the live sheep trade.

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has accused some animal activists of stopping at nothing to kill off live exports.

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Nationals leader Michael McCormack has accused some animal activists of stopping at nothing to kill off live exports after money was reportedly offered to whistleblowers for incriminating footage.

And Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is "very disappointed" the politics surrounding live exports has led to such behaviour.

Animals Australia sent emails discussing possible payments to a worker on the Awassi Express, the ship from which footage emerged of thousands of sheep dying in their own filth, The Daily Telegraph reports.

"Many people want the live trade ceased and they'll stop at nothing to ensure that happens," Mr McCormack told ABC Radio on Thursday.

READ MORE: Live-ex producers demand answers on staged footage claims

He said the government stood with responsible sheep exporters who put animal welfare at the front of their operations.

Mr Morrison said he thought the reported behaviour was a product of the "activist politics" and that when it comes to live exports, the government is focused on "getting it right and doing it right".

"Australia has an outstanding record when it comes to animal welfare, and we want to make sure that our systems and processes are always up to standard and we're doing the right thing," he told reporters in Fiji on Thursday.

Whistleblower Fazal Ullah took video of the horrific scenes that was aired on 60 Minutes, prompting widespread outrage and an overhaul of the industry.

Animals Australia said Mr Ullah had obtained indisputable evidence of abuse, corroborated by other workers on the ship who were also concerned about animal welfare.

"The overwhelming evidence of suffering across five voyages, confirmed in End of Voyage Vet Reports, was accepted by industry associations and government regulators," a spokesman said in a statement.

"Mr Ullah was a brave whistleblower who came forward because of his genuine concerns about the suffering of animals in this disgraceful trade."

The operators of the Awassi, Emanuel Exports, reiterated on Thursday they had been saddened and distressed by the footage aired on 60 Minutes.

The company said it has begun a transparency project, which included 30 politicians touring a vessel to see the livestock sheep export process on Wednesday.

"The images we saw were not acceptable to anyone and will not be part of the future of this industry," Emanuels managing director Nicholas Daws said on Thursday.

"We have reached a new era where transparency and technology will be the new normal."

Australian Associated Press

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