MPs digging in on push to end live exports

Matt Coughlan

Politicians from across the political divide have vowed to continue to push for an end to live sheep exports, despite new rules imposed on the embattled industry.

Labor are increasingly likely to support rogue Liberal backbencher Sussan Ley's private bill to phase out the trade over five years.

The legislation also has the support of independent senator Derryn Hinch, who believes a slew of government MPs could cross the floor.

"The live sheep export trade cannot have a viable long-term future if it relies on cruelty as part of its operations," Labor leader Bill Shorten said.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced on Thursday the government would adopt all 23 recommendations made by livestock vet Michael McCarthy's report into the northern hemisphere summer trade.

The review was commissioned by the minister after shocking footage was released showing almost 2500 sheep dying on a ship to the Middle East in 2016.

Mr Littleproud refused to ban the trade, arguing live sheep exports are to important to farmers.

Under the new regulations, the number of animals on ships will be cut by up to 28 per cent, with up to 39 per cent more space on live export vessels.

The government has proposed tough penalties for dodgy exporters, with jail terms of up to 10 years for company directors and individuals.

"I intend to hold them to account. I don't think we've held them to account properly as a government," Mr Littleproud said.

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.

Ms Ley said the changes didn't go far enough, with the trade in "terminal decline".