Live Animal Export: The dead sheep handicap

Dr Lynn Simpson reimagines the Australian livestock trade scene post-60 Minutes as a horse race. Who will make it past the final furlong?

Regulatory failure, lies and melting to death in a bed of hot sewerage whilst snuggled up to your dead friend’s body.

Could be the promo to a fictional horror film? Unfortunately its Australia’s legally approved standard of transporting live animals.

Ten days on from the 60 Minutes documentary has the live export trade changed irrevocably?

Answer: Not yet.

But the race has begun: (the following is fiction as decisions are not yet made and change and conflict on such a regular basis that until they are solid I cant report in more concise detail).

My interpretation of this last week is as follows:

The runners are in the barriers. All find themselves unaware that a keen eyed Pakistani navigational officer has forced them to run for their lives.

Yes, brave and honorable, Faizal Ullah joined the Awassi Express (pictured) to learn about life at sea.

Instead he discovered and uncovered one of Australia’s greatest shames.

The live animal export trade.

Perfectly positioned on the vessel for months on end, Faizal has packed his travel bag with ethics and morals. With lightening speed he had seen that the trade of transporting livestock by sea is fraught with dangers for both animals and crew, he then recorded the travesty for the enlightenment of those with blinkers on.

Back in the barriers of the ‘Ethics and welfare stakes’ we have the runners:

‘Agriculture Minister’ (David Littleproud), ‘’Social licence, ‘’Emanual exports, ‘Animal Welfare groups’, ‘Melting sheep’, ‘The Department’ (of Agriculture Australia), ‘AMSA’ (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), ‘Incompetence and corruption”, ‘Social licence’, ‘Al Awassi’, ‘History, ‘Under the radar’, ALEC’ and ‘Faizal Ullah’.

The bell rings.

The barrier gates open, and its Faizal with a strong lead showing the world via 60 Minutes that sheep are not designed to travel by sea to the Persian Gulf in the middle of summer.

Closing in is AMSA. AMSA has its eyes open wide and has had Al Awassi vetted out and excluded from exiting the barriers due to health concerns.

The minister for agriculture is visibly fighting for his career and trying not to become pet food. He calls “bullshit” on the first corner as he remembers the images of ‘melted sheep’ back at the barriers.

‘Melted sheep’ was a non-starter due to the sensation of 2,400 hideous and avoidable deaths whilst with ‘Al Awassi’.

‘Emanual Exports’ has issued an apology and has inexplicably failed to attend the race meet for the first time.

The other runners having to step over ‘Melted sheep’ and holding their noses ignore the slippery, greasy mess that threatens to ruin their race.

Meanwhile “Under the radar” (Alias MV Maysora) has slipped out of the race quietly to head back to the Middle East, leaving Al Awassi to sort her issues alone.

‘History’ is yet again in the race but finishes last as since its performance in 1985 when it was declared by Australian Parliament unsuitable to continue to race in export it has defied all recommendations to phase out of work and continues to limp to the finish line.

‘ ALEC’ careers wildly form one rail to the next in a bumbling gait stating that Australia still has the world’s best practice and don’t seem to be wavering from their mantra of “no pain no fear”.

‘Social licence’, wearing the colours of public opinion and social media is gaining ground and showing tremendous, unprecedented and unforgettable form.

‘Animal Welfare groups’ have a strong start and, known for their tremendous past form are in the middle of the pack, gaining ground on ‘the Minister’ leaving ‘the Department’ in its wake.

It looks like this race belongs to ‘Animal welfare groups’ this time.

But what’s happening here? ‘The Department’ seems to have stopped soon out of the barriers. ‘The Department’ is standing in the middle of the track with its hoof in its mouth crying that after years of incompetence the Minister has finally expressed his disappointment in the department and broken its heart.

This is heartbreaking indeed. A grown horse reduced to its true inability after having a protected and spoilt upbringing. Fortunately for ‘The Department” ‘Incompetence and Corruption’ is poking along at a fair clip only doing as much as is necessary to get through the day.

Moving only at a jabbering and glacial pace the despondent ‘department’ is unsurprisingly passed by a homeless person casually wheeling a shopping trolley full of donated goods from ‘Social licence’ and ‘Animal Welfare’. Seeing the department in distress the unscheduled homeless contestant offers the department a box of Kleenex in an unprecedented act of undeserved kindness.

“But what’s this?” It appears the Minister is feeling unloved for not getting more whistleblowers contact him on the whistleblower hotline. He seems disoriented and overwhelmed. Totally understandable after his ex stable mate, Barnaby, left him with a mess to clean up that was akin to “Melted Sheep” at the barriers. Can he win this race? Well, possibly, if he remembers to actually add a contact number to the hotline? There are no shortage of people who want to share their distressing experiences with live export.

We hope the Minister can pull this off. The general public are cheering him on. He would be a national favourite; in the same club as Phar Lap, Black Caviar and Winx if he did. Leaving a legacy that politicians, farmers and animal lovers would speak in hushed and revered tones for decades to come.

“Now I’m confused”, The Minister has now jumped over the outer rail, into the crowd and ransacked all the bookies bags only to declare he is off to Vietnam to spend $146m on export training. The Minister was visibly shaken after seeing Faizal’s irrefutable evidence, but to leave for Vietnam at this point is surely a lost in translation moment,

Faizal has won the race with a great lead, followed by Animal welfare groups and social licence. The public cheer and their place in history is yet again earned.

The Department appears to be receiving counseling from the gentleman with the shopping trolley. The Steward and his grey horse are heading back to the barriers to check on ‘The Department’, ‘Al Awassi’ and ‘Melted Sheep”.

Please don’t think I’m making light of this situation. Faizel’s footage was heartbreaking but predictable, business as usual, when transporting sheep to a Middle Eastern summer by sea.

The new Minister for Agriculture in Australia was visibly angry after watching the footage taken over five voyages by the brave whistleblower, Faizal Ullah.

Minister David Littleproud expressed that the conditions the animals Faizal filmed had experienced were complete “bullshit, and who ever was responsible will swing”.

Meanwhile the Awassi Express has been detained by AMSA to meet requirements.

The elephant in the room.

The live export trade apparently cannot provide acceptable animal and crew welfare standards AND be commercially viable?

As for the whistleblower hotline, if the government cant provide a contact I will. Please do not hesitate to contact me personally on

All contact will be kept confidential… unless you request otherwise or you’re rude to me.

More facts of actual action will be provided when they are solidified.

Unlike the poor sheep on the Awassi Express.


For Lynn’s full archive of shocking exposés into the livestock trades, click here.


  1. Dr Simpson, your further report is noted with interest. I have been doing a bit of research on the subject of livestock carrier regulation. From my reading of what appears to be a fairly old submission from AMSA to Australia’s Red Meat Industry, it is reported that there is no IMO international convention to provide a template to regulate this industry. AMSA lament this situation. They also confirm that they have done a great deal of work on the regulation of livestock export by sea during the past decades, inclusive of assisting other Asia Pacific countries to develop their own legislation similar to Australia’s Marine Order 43 of 2006 (as now amended to 2013 and again under review). However, what caught my immediate attention were the words in AMSA’s submission closing paragraphs as copied below:
    “There is a large number of purchasers of shipping services within the Australian livestock export industry, which are primarily concerned about price and timeliness of shipment, rather than the safety of the ship or its operational practices in relation to the humane treatment of livestock during the voyage overseas.”
    On the face of it, not much has changed during the past ten years in terms of the attitudes of shipper/exporters and the willingness of livestock ship owners do whatever if takes to make a profit, regardless of the inhumanity to the animals carried on board their vessels. If it had not been for AMSA intervention, then I am sure you would agree that the suffering and losses would have been much worse. However, without heightened global awareness in conjunction with international leadership, regulation and enforcement (inclusive of criminal prosecution), where do we go from here?

  2. Good morning from Germany! The problem is well known in the sailors’ scene since decades! In the 80ies it was already subject of severe discussions in german trade unions. Especially for the crews, these ships were nightmares.

    When I visited Namibia in 1992, I was told, that it was a severe problem to sheep and goat farmers to know their lifestock being tortoured and even killed by the travel from southern Africa to Saudi, India and Pakistan by the heat. But it was the money, what silenced their internal discussion for the public. Farmers in southern Africa have a hard life and earn their living not only by selling (white) goats for the new year ceremony but as well live sheep all year long.

    2002 and 2003 another row of scandals puzzled the public (eg Cormo Express), and the Australian authorities had much stress!

    Some years later, In 2008 the german SPIEGEL wrote an article about the horrorships, especially for the crews, who had to throw the dead animals over bord and as well to clean the ships. The article very well summed up the reasons for these live animal transports between southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand and Asia. As well as the live animal transports between South America and Europe. But …. nothing really changed.

    It is very good that You bring the subject back on the table! But I don’t belive in any bettering neither for the animals nor the crews! In a small scale we have the same problem of live animal transport here in Europe, long transports by truck by centralizing the slaughter houses. You stop Your car and wait for a while, when You close up to a live animal transport truck! But it’s only a discussion subject for vegetarians and vegans. The rest is quckly changing the subject – with a shrug – before they order their steak, bloody!

    Peter Ullrich

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