Live Export Update
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Live export report futile | RSPCA
A senate inquiry into Australia’s live export trade has failed to address serious animal welfare problems and in doing so has ignored the concerns of the majority of Australians.
The report states there should be ‘no compromise on animal welfare’ yet Senators have thrown their full support behind a trade that is inherently cruel.
The very practice of sending animals on long journeys overseas just to be slaughtered is a compromise in animal welfare in itself. The fact that 1% of cattle and 2% of sheep can die on the way before a government inquiry is launched shows that deaths and suffering of animals is considered an acceptable part of the daily business of live export.
The fact they are sent to places where laws do not protect them from cruelty shows Australia is all too willing to abandon our established principles as to how animals should be treated for the sake of money on offer in other countries.
The Senate report supported using OIE guidelines as a benchmark for the treatment of Australian animals overseas. This is in itself a compromise because it falls well short of Australian standards and doesn’t eliminate one of the cruellest aspects of this trade, un-stunned slaughter.
As the Australian Greens highlighted in their dissenting report:
“The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines establish minimum standards for developing countries. OIE guidelines allow practices which would be illegal in Australia to take place in foreign markets to those unlucky Australian animals which are subjected to live export.”
The Australian government has been forced to take unprecedented action in implementing new controls while live export continues. But as Independent Senator Nick Xenophon’s dissenting report stated:
“It is very concerning that it repeatedly requires media stories and public outcry (both this year and in the past) to expose bad practices overseas and bring about changes in the industry.”
That the ALP and Coalition remain wedded to this cruel trade defies logic, economic arguments and the wishes of the vast majority of Australians. But to continue to afford the trade unconditional support while in the next breath suggesting there should be no compromise on animal welfare is disingenuous at best.
Live export will always involve compromise. The trade will never be acceptable in animal welfare terms.
Both major parties will have a final opportunity to prove animal welfare is indeed important when new legislation to require stunning comes before the parliament next year. Whether or not Andrew Wilkie’s bill is supported will be a true test as to the extent to which our elected representatives are prepared to compromise on animal welfare in the live export trade.
About Live Export
Every year millions of Australian animals are exported live for slaughter. Cattle, sheep and goats are sent all through the Middle East and South East Asia — to countries where animal welfare laws do not protect them. Tens of thousands of animals don't survive the sea journey and those that do, disembark into countries where they are transported, handled and then slaughtered in appalling ways. Most animals slaughtered overseas have their throats cut while they are fully conscious, leading to an incredibly painful and prolonged death.
Over the past seven years Animals Australia has conducted investigations in the Middle East into the treatment of exported Australian animals. The evidence from these investigations across seven different countries has consistently revealed the willingness of Australia's live export industry, and consecutive Federal Governments, to export live animals to the Middle East regardless of how cruelly they will be treated. Only last November, Animals Australia investigators once again documented horrendous abuse of Australian sheep in Kuwait. The footage, which aired on ABC1's 7.30 Report, outraged Australians, yet once again the Federal government maintained its support of this cruel trade.
Indonesia has been the main destination for Australian cattle with 4.6 million exported to this country over the past decade. Animal protection groups had hoped that the treatment of cattle in Indonesia would be better than that of sheep in the Middle East because of the greater level of Australian industry involvement. What we have discovered however, is that we couldn't have been more wrong. Evidence gathered in Indonesia reveals that the involvement of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and LiveCorp in Indonesia has actually contributed to and facilitated brutal treatment of Australian cattle.
The evidence gathered against Australia's live trade during the recent Indonesian investigation and in the Middle East in the eight years prior is damning. No amount of profit, no amount of excuses can justify Australia's continued involvement in live animal export — the associated cruelty inflicted on animals — and the message that we are sending to other nations as to what is acceptable treatment of animals.
When Australia's live trade was exposed as supplying cattle to Egypt in the full knowledge that it was routine practice for cattle to have their leg tendons slashed to disable them prior to slaughter — the Federal Government should have ended the trade then and there. This further evidence of Australian interests knowingly supplying animals to even worse abuse in Indonesia demands that the Federal Government acts now.
In a historic union — Australia's two peak animal welfare bodies RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia have joined forces to demand the Gillard Government immediately halt the live trade to Indonesia and then announce an end date for live animal export. If you care about animals then please add your voice and help us end this cruel trade once and for all.