Liberal MP to push for live export ban, despite review

The Awassi Express is seen docked at the port of Fremantle Perth Australia

Western Australian Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan indicated on Thursday she might yet move to restrict exports in the northern summer.

Rebel Liberal backbencher Sussan Ley will reportedly push on with a private member's bill to phase out live sheep exports within five years, despite the outcome of a government-ordered review into the trade.

However the government won't ban live exports during the northern summer.

Under the government's changes, sheep will be given up to 39 per cent more space on ships.

Horrific footage of dead and dying sheep on ships bound for the Middle East has prompted sweeping reforms to Australia's live export trade, but Canberra stopped short of an outright ban Thursday.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the package was "about changing the culture" of the industry.

"The footage was disgraceful, but what you don't need to do is predicate your decisions on emotions and without facts, this was one exporter, one incident", Littleproud told reporters in Sydney.

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Fines ranging between $420,000 for individuals and $4.2 million for companies will also be included in legislation to be introduced in coming weeks. The offence could see company directors jailed for up to 10 years or face a $2.1 million fine.

The same is true of promises of more "independent observers" and a stiffening of the penalties to be imposed on companies, company directors and others who flout the regulations in order to maximise profits.

Independent observers will also be placed on export ships, but the RSPCA's Dr Bidda Jones argues that won't guarantee animals survive the journey.

"The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept", Mr Littleproud said. "We have a responsibility, not only to the animals, but to our farmers, to get it right".

"If you leave a dog in a hot auto (in Australia) you are prosecuted and you potentially go to jail", said Lyn White from Animals Australia, the advocacy group that released the shocking video.

The spokeswoman said Gulf countries prefer importing livestock for religious reasons and the costs of transport, predicting chilled meats "will never be an alternative to live sheep in the region".

"From the farmers' perspective, we need to fix it, not ban it".

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