CANBERRA, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack vowed that the government would do whatever was necessary to ensure that the live export industry remained viable, local media reported Monday.
Michael McCormack, leader of the Nationals party, labelled those calling for an end to the nation's live sheep trade as "bleeding hearts."
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) and some members of the government have called for the government to ban all live exports after footage made public in April showed inhumane conditions on live export ships.
Speaking at the start of an extended visit to Western Australia where he planned to visit sheep farmers, McCormack said that Australia was one of a few countries in the world that enforced life export welfare standards.
"Those bleeding hearts in capital city areas wouldn't know a hogget from a wether and probably don't care, because they don't care whether the demand gets filled by someone else, they just don't want Australian sheep filling it," he told the West Australian on Monday.
"The fact is this trade provides a valuable source of income for West Australian farmers, and that flows throughout the entire economy. It is needed. But exporters also have a responsibility to step up and do the job properly -- they've been put on notice.
"I know the trade is needed and we, as a government, will be ensuring we take every step possible to ensure it continues."
Approximately 3 million live sheep, cattle, buffalo and goats are exported from Australia to be slaughtered for meat overseas every year.
The industry is worth more than 1 billion Australian dollars (739 million U.S. dollars) every year.