Animals lying in their own excrement. Cattle slowly suffocating to death.
They're the kind of scenes that would upset anyone. But for a vet like Dr Lynn Simpson the scenes she witnessed onboard export ships were nothing short of horrific.
Dr Simpson was once a senior vet for the government's Animal Welfare Branch of the Department of Agriculture. However, in an interview with ABC’s 7.30 program last night, Simpson revealed that she was removed from her position after exposing the cruelty and suffering at the heart of the live export trade.
In 2012, Simpson was hired as a technical adviser to monitor the welfare of cattle on export ships. During her time in that position, she captured images and videos of animals lying dead on the floor, amongst thick layers of excrement. In other photographs, cattle were shown packed together so tightly that they were suffocating as they stood in their pens.
Witnessing these horrific scenes became part of the job for Simpson. "It's just business as usual on these ships. I expect to see leg injuries, I expect to see pneumonia, I expect to see animals drenched in faecal matter," she said.
"They're not sanitised, [the images] show animals in appalling conditions, there's pain, there's suffering, it's inexcusable and it's confronting."
Simpson compiled her findings and presented them in a submission to a government review of live export standards.
The report was meant to be confidential, however, it went public when a staff member accidentally uploaded it to the Department of Agriculture’s website.
As a result, senior departmental executive Karen Schneider told Simpson that she had been removed from her position due to pressure from the live export industry.
In a letter obtained by the ABC, Schneider states, "the industry with which we engage has expressed the view that they cannot work with you".
In response, Simpson said, “For the industry to be able to kick a government employee out of a government job… That speaks volumes. I mean, it's a form of corruption.
"I was definitely a clean player in a dirty game and I think it's disgusting that they've shut me down, having come up with such strong, sensible evidence regarding how we can improve this trade."
Simpson is now suing the Commonwealth for breach of contract.