Australians in shock as livestock carrier conditions are shown on primetime TV

The Australian livestock exporting community has been in extreme crisis communications mode the past few days as a shocking documentary aired Sunday evening on terrestrial television featuring clips of conditions onboard one ship, the Awassi Express livestock carrier.

The gory clips were filmed by a Pakistani seafarer on five voyages he made from Australia to the Middle East last year and the brutal conditions – with hundreds of animals dying – have shocked the nation, forcing its politicians into action.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud has asked the attorney-general to launch an investigation into his own department and threatened company directors with jail time in the wake of the 60 Minutes documnentary.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has blocked the Awassi Express from leaving the country on its latest voyage. It was due to depart Fremantle packed with animals for Qatar and Kuwait, but has now been barred from leaving by AMSA after an inspection “raised some concerns about air flow over some pens”.

Animals Australia, the organisation that helped put the 60 Minutes expose together, has called for a sheep export ban during the Northern Hemisphere summer, something Splash’s livestock expert, Dr Lynn Simpson, has also been urging for years.

Animals Australia also wants stock density rates on export ships.

Meanwhile, the under fire Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has responded to the documentary by proposing a range of steps which it has outlined to the federal government today.

The ALEC proposals include investigating the reduction in stocking densities for sheep to the Arabian Gulf during high risk periods such as the Northern Hemisphere summer; more effective monitoring and recording of onboard conditions using technology; additional independent onboard personnel, as deemed appropriate by the federal regulator, and auditing of livestock infrastructure including ventilation and drainage; and strengthening the policies, inputs, regulation and enforcement of the heat stress risk assessment model and its application by industry to better mitigate welfare risks.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. How sad that ALEC only comes up with these proposals when embarrassed on National TV, not out of the goodness of their hearts. Still, it’s a step in the right direction; however small and overdue.

  2. Suggest you do a Google search by entering: YouTube 60 Minutes sheep livestock abuse .

    I tried to post the URL but the Splash system did not seem to want to accept.

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