A sheep being dragged by his ears by two men.

Investigation update: live export laws broken – again.

Animals Australia has documented live export laws being broken and sheep suffering terrible cruelty as a result. The phase-out of live sheep exports must happen as soon as possible.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated August 28, 2023

What Animals Australia investigators discovered in Oman can only be described as a total disregard for Australian live export rules – exposing countless animals to brutal slaughter.

Here in Australia, the industry’s PR machine has been in full swing – pitching a story of reform to rally support against the Albanese government’s planned phase-out of live sheep exports.

While overseas, the sheep they are responsible for were being stuffed in car boots, tied up and left in the street in extreme heat and dragged onto makeshift slaughter slabs to have their throats cut while fully conscious. The fear and prolonged suffering of these animals was palpable.

And once again, the only reason that anybody – including the Commonwealth regulator –  is aware that live export regulations were being flagrantly breached is because of an Animals Australia investigation.


Animals Australia lodges 78th legal complaint.

It was evidence gathered by Animals Australia investigators that forced regulations that require animals to be kept within approved supply chains. Sheep are no longer allowed to be transported in utes and car boots or sold for home slaughter.

Yet, our extensive evidence across dozens of locations in Oman reveals these rules are being ignored, with some sellers even confirming they receive a constant supply of Australian sheep – in breach of live export regulations.

Animals Australia lodged six complaints with the live export regulator. This marked our 78th legal complaint since regulations were put in place 11 years ago, further reinforcing that export companies cannot be trusted to police their own activities.

A month later, the situation had escalated with even more sheep being illegally sold for private sale and slaughter.

While the risks to our investigators had also increased, we traveled back to Oman during the Festival of Sacrifice– documenting the severe repercussions for sheep from export companies blatantly ignoring their legal obligations.

Any other Australian industry would have been shut down long ago based on such a record of regulatory non-compliance.

Phase-out must happen as soon as possible.

The unacceptable situation in Oman only adds to the evidence that live export regulations have failed and that the phase-out of sheep exports must begin as soon as possible.

Of course, what happens in importing countries is just part of the story, with every live export voyage fraught with risk for the animals. Despite all we know about animal sentience – and community expectations for the treatment of animals – our laws still allow 1 in every 100 sheep to die at sea without an investigation being triggered. Their deaths are factored into the industry’s business model.

While the Australian Government has committed to phasing out live sheep exports, the mechanism by which they will do that (regulation or legislation) and the timeline is yet to be determined. An Independent Panel will make its recommendations to the government by the end of September.

It’s imperative that the phase-out be legislated during this term of parliament. All of the evidence confirms that given ongoing exporter non-compliance in importing countries – and the ever-present risks for animals at sea – every day of delay will see more animals suffer.

We know we will need to remain the watchdog of this industry right up until the day it finally ends. Any gift you can make to our Investigations Unit is gratefully accepted.