Former minister calls for live export ban

By AAP Newswire

A former cabinet minister has called for live exports to be phased out, declaring "enough is enough" for the embattled industry.

NSW Liberal MP Sussan Ley has broken ranks with the government after shocking footage emerged showing sheep dying in horrific conditions on a ship to the Middle East in August last year.

"Time to pick a date by which all live sheep exports must end. We can work with industry and farmers to make this happen," the former health minister said on Twitter.

The industry is under pressure from animal welfare groups after 2400 sheep died in horrific conditions on the Emanuel Exports voyage.

Australia's Livestock Export Council has defended the majority of operators, saying exporters are largely adhering to world's best practice.

"Enough is enough with these ships of shame. Saying other countries would be worse is a lazy non-argument," Ms Ley said.

"Time for these monsters to face prosecution."

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has announced a veterinarian-led review into exporting livestock during the northern-hemisphere summer.

He's also commissioned an audit of his own department, but resisted calls for a ban on the trade in northern summer.

Mr Littleproud and Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon both support live exports, which they say are important for farmers' livelihoods.

But the government wants to see major cultural changes in the industry, with Mr Littleproud vowing to get tough on people responsible for cruelty.

"I don't give a rat's about a guy that's done the wrong thing because we'll nail him," he said.

The minister called on the exporters' council to "show us the colour of their eyes" in response to the footage which has revived calls from animal welfare groups for the industry to be shut down.