AUSTRALIA'S live export market needs to be overhauled, according to Animal Welfare Community Legal Centre principal lawyer Malcolm Caufield.
Speaking at Tasmania's first animal law conference in Hobart at the weekend, Dr Caufield wants to see live exports to the Middle East abandoned and an independent regulator set up.
The Vets Against Live Exports co-founder talked about the heat stress animals can suffer during live export voyages and how it is a welfare issue.
"The new arrangements that have been put in place for us [Australia] to be able to protect our animals overseas ... [are] a complete and utter waste of time, in that Australia is never going to be able to influence what happens overseas," Dr Caufield said at the University of Tasmania-run event.
He said the biggest problem was that long-distance transport would never achieve welfare levels that would be acceptable.
"To improve welfare is going to cost more and the industry is driven by economics - I personally think exports to the Middle East should stop forthwith."
However, Dr Caufield said it would be unfeasible to stop shipments to the region without an industry and federal government co-ordinated response, to help minimise the impact on farmers.
He said it would be possible to improve standards with a good scientific approach in south-east Asia to further grow the industry.
"I think government should be stepping in and making strenuous efforts to develop the local meat processing market to take those extra animals and preferably export the meat in boxes," the Flinders Island resident said.
"Just messing along the way that we are with one disaster after another, which is now just becoming a political nightmare, is just ridiculous."
Dr Caufield has long been calling for an independent body to properly regulate the trade, which did not answer to any particular department or commercial interests.
He said there was a desperate need for a forward-looking business plan for the next 10 or 15 years.
Other speakers at the two- day conference included University of Queensland professor Clive Phillips.