British singer Morrissey has taken aim at Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, in a strongly worded letter calling for an end to live animal exports.

The famously vegan singer has been vocal in his pursuit of animal rights for a long time, having released an album called Meat is Murder, while frontman with the Smiths in 1985. While touring Australia he also insists that each venue takes meat off the menu when he performs there.

In the personally penned letter to Joyce on behalf of animal rights group Peta, Morrissey says the minister is behind the times in the area of animal welfare.

“The horrific cruelty in the live-export industry is heavy enough to sink a ship, yet you insist on condemning millions of animals to this fate every year. You can deny it until you are red(der) in the face, but the industry is dying,” Morrissey wrote.

“Live exporter Elders is shutting down its long haul trade, and exports of both cattle and sheep are slipping.”

There have been calls to ban Australia’s live exports on the grounds of cruelty but Joyce has rejected these despite reports showing the mistreatment of Australian cattle overseas.

“Your recent dismissal of the need for an animal-welfare office in your department shows that you are currently on the wrong side of history.
“If meat is murder, live export is the slow boat to hell,” he wrote.

The singer finished off the letter asking Joyce to help pave the way towards a kinder future by “putting the live-export industry out of its misery immediately”. He signed off: “Yours sincerely, Morrissey.”