Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is adamant live animal exports can grow, arguing the controversial trade is winning back its social licence.
In his first stint in the portfolio, Mr Littleproud oversaw reform of the industry after horrific images emerged of sheep dying in their own filth on stifling ships.
The new Nationals deputy leader is keen to send a message to import countries that Australia is committed to the trade for the long haul.
‘We’re now getting the social licence back – and that’s a good thing,’ he told AAP.
‘One of the first things I want to do as ag minister is to reaffirm to those live export trading partners that business will continue and in fact we want to continue to grow it.’
The RSPCA says live exporting sheep to the Middle East is incompatible with basic animal welfare standards.
A three-month suspension for sheep voyages to the Middle East has been in place for the hottest northern hemisphere months over the last two years.
The ban came after footage of the Awassi Express – a ship where more than 2400 sheep died in 2017 – was broadcast nationally.
Despite predictions the trade is doomed, Mr Littleproud believes Australia has a responsibility to stay in the marketplace.
‘The reality is, if we’re not doing it, another nation invariably will do it that doesn’t have our standards and values’ he said.
‘I’m going to make sure those markets know that Australia is going to do it right for them and we’re going to continue to supply the best meat in the world.
‘It’s important to agriculture that the live trade export market continues.’
Labor went to last year’s election with a policy to end live sheep exports with a five-year transition to the chilled meat industry.