Live Export

Troy Setter calls out RSPCA over live export claims

Eric Barker, 14/02/2024

Troy Setter

THE head of the live export industry’s peak research and development corporation has defended the industry’s animal welfare credentials and called out animal welfare groups for using live export as a “money-making exercise” rather than making a contribution to animal welfare outcomes.

Appearing in his role as Livecorp chair Troy Setter fronted estimates in the late hours of last night, fielding questions about the MV Bahijah, the live export class action and proposed phase-out of live sheep exports.

Western Australian Liberal senator Slade Brockman asked Mr Setter about the “misinformation” being peddled about the live export industry – referring to comments Animals Australia and the RSPCA made about conditions on the MV Bahijah, which was headed through the war-torn Red Sea and directed back to Australia.

“It was certainly disappointing to see the chief veterinary officer of the RSPCA on television talk about conditions on the vessel when no one from RSPCA had been on the vessel – they described the most horrid conditions without a scrap of evidence to support their claims,” Mr Setter said in response to Senator Brockman.

“At one point they described Western Australian Farmers as having disgusting views about the conditions onboard, when the activists’ own drone footage showed the animals were exceptionally clean, they were cool, they were sitting on fresh bedding and there had been numerous washes.”

Mr Setter said the animal welfare organisations had turned the MV Bahijah case into a money-making exercise.

“It was pretty disappointing to see that those organisations who make their money from clickbait and don’t spend anything on research, education or training on animal welfare.”

“For the likes of the RSPCA and Animals Australia, this a big money-making exercise for them. We have written to them before, last year, and called them out on some of the inaccuracies about some of the claims they made about Livecorp’s work through independent groups and we never received a response from the RSPCA CEO.”

Mr Setter made an opening statement defending the animal welfare credentials of both the live sheep and cattle export industry.

“Shipboard mortality rates in the first half of 2023 were on par with the record lows of 2022 at just 0.14pc for sheep and 0.06pc for cattle,” he said.

“We have also seen some tangible examples of how Australia exports animal welfare and how it influences practices in our destination markets. In November, Vietnam introduced animal welfare standards consistent with Australia’s.

“We have also been supporting Indonesia as it continues to battle foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease – including a project to deliver a lot of vaccination, which has helped Australian farmers, port workers, butchers and the like.”

Human side of delayed live export class action

Nationals’ senator Bridget McKenzie asked Mr Setter for his take on the delayed pay of the class action against the 2011 live export ban – which was ruled to be illegal. The Government last month rejected an offer of $510m, plus costs and interest, to settle the lawsuit.

Agriculture minister Murray Watt made a point of order before Mr Setter could answer the question, arguing he was appearing as the head of a research and development corporation and not in a political capacity.

Ms McKenzie then asked the minister to draw on his legal background to ask if he thought the Government had been model litigants in this case.

“From the very limited involvement I have had in this case, given that it is not being administered by my portfolio, I have seen and heard nothing that makes me think the Commonwealth has failed to be a model litigant,” Mr Watt said in response.

“The Commonwealth made an offer to settle this case, the claimants through their lawyers took 12 months to respond to that offer.”

Ultimately Mr Setter was asked if the delay had impacted business confidence and sentiment industry. In response, Mr Setter said it was important to consider the human toll the ban and delayed legal action had caused.

“People have died from old age since this case started, people have committed suicide, we have seen families break up, lots of people lose their family business or family farm, lots of divorces and that side of it has been really sad,” he said.

“The delay through lack of process and model litigant have been really frustrating, we would hope there can be a quick resolve to this. We are on our second judge because the first one has retired.”

Live sheep export a strong contributor to Livecorp

Before the session finished, Mr Setter was asked to reflect on comments he made in last year’s annual report raising concerns about the future of Livecorp if the live sheep export were phased out. Labor senator Glenn Searle asked if he really thought that, given the live sheep export levees were only a small percentage of Livecorp’s income.

“About 76pc of cattle ships that go out of Fremantle also have sheep on them – about 260,000 cattle out of Fremantle are attached to sheep,” he said.

In his opening statements, Mr Setter spoke about the increase in sheep export numbers.

“Sheep and cattle export numbers were up substantially in 2023, if you look financial year cattle exports were a bit flat and sheep were up 56pc year-on-year,” he said.

“The increase in sheep exports to Saudi Arabia has been the first in more than a decade and continue to see new markets.”




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  1. Jason Flower, 17/02/2024

    Do the people who want to ban live exports ever consider that we will be replaced by other countries who do not have our controls in place? Wouldn’t it be better that our animals arrive in great condition than putting your heads in the sand and thinking that just because you have wrecked an industry and people’s lives here everything is ok.

  2. Adrian Carey, 16/02/2024

    It is a shame Governments do not consider people and their wellfare as much as livestock . A perfect example that Ministers have no interest or idea.
    Farm producers should empty the supermarket shelves for a few weeks and make those who take everything for granted find out where it all comes from against the odds.

  3. Neil Hack, 16/02/2024

    what is this govt trying to do bankrupt the country.
    they could have opened a port and unloaded that boat earlier were they just giving the greenies n the rest amunition to ban live exports.

  4. Christopher Rigby, 15/02/2024

    It is the obfuscation & confusion of appropriate evidence that is disproportionately used by animal welfare groups so as to gain traction & profitability to their cause at the expense of bona fide livestock producers & agriculturists whose paramount concern is the welfare of their charges.

  5. Ken lindorff, 15/02/2024

    I will support this. People on the cities have no idea how this closure will impact.

  6. Wendy Stewart, 15/02/2024

    This Federal Go er ment is a disgrace. The ship was given permission to sale to the Middle East even though the Gaza/Israel conflict has been going for weeks. Then the ship was ordered to return to Australia. Something like 4 weeks over all and yet had no plan for the animals when they returned. And it’s the fault of the live exporters! Pssswwwah!

  7. Johanna Reinhardt, 15/02/2024

    Australia should put a stop to live exports of any animals particularly going to countries in the middle east and Asia. Why don’t we bring in abattoirs perhaps in the NT so we are then satisfied with the conditions of sale of meat to all these places.

  8. Sandra Jasprizza, 15/02/2024

    End the live exports now, New Zealand has stopped end of this trade.

    Hi Sandra, worth mentioning the newly elected NZ Government is promising to re-instate live export. Editor

    • Shannon, 16/02/2024

      As a NZ cattle farmer,
      Also worth mentioning that exports havnt actually stopped as legislative dates to do so have not been reached yet. Changed the parliament and we’re back into it !!!
      It’s great to have a coalition in place now that is supportive of farming and what primary produce does for NZ’s.
      86% of all exports ( in a dollars metric ).

  9. Dave, 15/02/2024

    Please note that cruise lines that carry people have a much higher rate of viral diseases and other illnesses than live stock carriers, but it is okay to accept that. I think media and any other organisation that falsely report should be liable for loss of bizness and income as a result.


    A friendly reminder that full names are required for future reader comments please, as per our long-standing comment policy. Readers are reminded that failure to supply full names is likely to lead to your comment not being approved for publication. Editor

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