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Animals 2018, 8(7), 106;

Australian Public Opinions Regarding the Live Export Trade before and after an Animal Welfare Media Exposé

Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 May 2018 / Revised: 17 June 2018 / Accepted: 19 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
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Simple Summary

Long distance transport of livestock from one continent to another by ship raises concerns about the welfare of the animals on board the ship. Media exposés may have influenced the public towards negative views about the trade. A total of 522 members of the public in Brisbane, Australia, were surveyed just before and after an exposé of cruelty to sheep on board ships destined for the Middle East in 2017. More respondents had negative than positive attitudes towards the trade and almost one half had seen the media exposé. The exposé increased the proportion of respondents indicating that they were familiar with the trade, and although it did not affect those indicating negative feelings towards it, it increased the proportion believing the trade should end.


The long distance export of livestock from Australia to Asia has long aroused controversy for suspected animal welfare concerns during and after the voyage. However, there is little or no information on the attitude of the Australian public towards this trade. A total of 522 Australians were surveyed in Brisbane to find out about their understanding of the trade, their attitudes towards it and the influence of demographic factors. Approximately one half of respondents were surveyed just before a media exposé of cruelty on sheep shipments in 2017 from Australia to the Middle East and one half just after the exposé, to see the impact of media depiction of cruel treatment of live export sheep. Most respondents believed that they were familiar with the industry, and more after the media exposé than before. More respondents had negative than positive feelings about the trade, and just over a quarter had no feelings. Twice as many thought it should be ended than maintained, particularly women, but 40% said that it depends, mainly on ethics and animal-based reasons. Those that thought it should not be ended mainly did so to support farmers and the country’s economy. Almost one half had seen the media exposé, particularly older respondents, and expressions of sadness, empathy for the animals and anger were the most common responses to such footage. Although it increased the number of people saying that they were familiar with the trade, it did not affect people’s view of the trade, except that fewer indicated that ending the trade was dependent on other factors. It is concluded that the majority of Australian respondents in one capital city had negative views towards the live export trade, and that a media exposé had some influence on this view. View Full-Text
Keywords: live export; animal welfare; public opinion; exposé; cruelty footage live export; animal welfare; public opinion; exposé; cruelty footage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Sinclair, M.; Derkley, T.; Fryer, C.; Phillips, C.J.C. Australian Public Opinions Regarding the Live Export Trade before and after an Animal Welfare Media Exposé. Animals 2018, 8, 106.

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