THE push to ban live exports intensified yesterday as thousands of people took part in simultaneous rallies around the country in a bid to stop the inhumane treatment of animals.

In Melbourne, bad weather didn’t deter protesters who gathered at Parliament House calling on MPs to act.

The rally took place only weeks after evidence emerged of Australian sheep being brutally slaughtered in Pakistan. This followed revelations last year about the cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle exported to the slaughterhouses of Indonesia.

RSPCA Victorian president Hugh Wirth told the crowd that such cases were just the tip of the iceberg.

”These cases are just the latest evidence of what happens when animals leave Australia,” he said. ”Australians have seen the gross reality of this trade – inhumane slaughter, animals left floating around in the middle of the ocean, and what can only be described as totally barbaric treatment of Australian animals. Enough is enough.”

But the Victorian Farmers Federation backed the $1 billion live export trade, saying it was vital for the nation and many developing countries that lack the cold-chain distribution networks that are needed to store meat.

”As well as being important to the livelihoods of many Australian farming families, the live trade delivers meat to nations that would struggle to buy, store and distribute beef or mutton from Australia,” said VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann.

Federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson, Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt and Animals Australia’s Lyn White also addressed the Melbourne crowd.

Ms White urged protesters to send a message to MPs that the live exports are ”a stain on our soul” and should be stopped.

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