Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.

The Federal Regulations governing live export.

ASEL were written in response to the Keniry report on the failings of the live trade in the wake of the Cormo Express saga. The Federal Government decided not to implement all the recommendations but drafted a new set of rules in an effort to dupe the public into believing that they are truly interested in seeing the live export of Australian animals ‘cleaned up’.

This window dressing just does not work.

The Federal Government measures the success of a voyage by the number of dead animals at the port of destination. A few years ago an arbitrary figure of 1% for cattle and 2% for sheep was set as the minimum mortality rate acceptable aboard any vessel. This percentage still stands today. Any rate above this nominal figure ’supposedly’ starts an investigation…which usually results in…..nothing.
(Millions of sheep have been exported and millions have died and that does not
include the thousands that have died aboard ships of disaster: eg the Uniceb or Cormo Express. We also believe that the mortality rate figures touted by the Government are not to be believed because they are not verified.)

What we at Live Export Shame see clearly is that the deaths of animals during transport to the feedlot, in the feedlot, and transport to the port are not taken into account at all. The ‘export chain’ spoken of in these new standards really refers only to the voyage and any other measurement of the ‘chain’ is irrelevant.

Each section of the Live Export Chain:

The key to measure success is by an audit of the animals at every stage of the transport cycle or live export chain from farm gate to arrival at the port. Farmers should be the first to be made accountable when they select animals for transport and load at the farm gate (how many times have we seen animals unloaded at the last point before departure which should never even have been transported due to obvious conditions which preclude them-e.g. pregnant ewes, blind, lame sheep, scabby mouth, pink eye, nasal discharge, cancers.)

The transporter and feedlot operator plus exporter are also accountable but they are never held to account.

The principle behind ASEL is that each section of the live export chain is ‘covered’ by a Federal Regulation. But the problem is that the Federal Regulations are not enforced nor are the exporters required to show they can and do, actively meet those Regulations.

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service is responsible for the administration and enforcement of ASEL but they believe that their responsibilities do not include animal welfare. They prefer to leave that to State authorities. Please see:Animals' Angels Animal Welfare in Australia for more detailed information on how the ‘animal welfare’ system fails animals in Australia.

ASEL requires that suitably qualified and independent inspectors must be present to inspect when:

• Animals are unloaded at the feedlot. It is extremely unlikely that an industry loathed to spend money will employ vets to inspect every head of sheep or cattle especially as thousands of animals are in the feedlot at the one time.

• Animals should be inspected by AQIS to ensure the animals comply with
the health requirements of the export standards. However the ASEL does
not require that AQIS inspect every animal. Their focus is the health not welfare of the animals.

Question: How can one vet inspect 80,000 + animals at one feedlot?
Answer: He cannot; AQIS vets must accept the word of the exporter and third party vet employed by the exporter.

ALL animals must be inspected at loading to ensure the transport phase of the ‘export chain’ complies with the new standards. Of course this is not done by any authority. AQIS attend the Ports intermittently if at all. The Federal Govt has not committed the man power or the money for this exercise…that is why we see sheep’s legs sticking out of the sides of trucks, heads jammed between rails, dead and dying on trucks.. and that is on the way to the port!

The industry pay contractors to check sheep as they run passed them on their way to the ships loading ramp. No authority appears to question the contractors level of training and suitability to undertake inspection of animals.

• There should be an independent inspector at the port monitoring the arrival of EVERY truck to ensure the welfare of the animals is paramount. This does not occur. From July 2009 to July 2011, there has not been ONE inspection at the Port of Fremantle by an Animal Welfare Law Enforcement Agency.

There has never been an inspection by a state law enforcement agency
at any other port in WA. Live Export Shame believes the Industry sees
MONEY as paramount, not the welfare of the animals. Welfare costs and this industry exists to make money.

• It is a requirement that drivers check every animal on their truck upon arrival at the port. According to sources this rarely occurs. Downer or compromised animals may be trampled, smothered or severely injured and remain that way for hours.

These new standards also try to reassure the reader that every step has been taken
to ensure animal health and well being is paramount.

These standards stand alone. They have no support by way of policing at any point in the export chain. The industry is entirely self regulating…just as before.

Only now AQIS are minimally involved but they don’t have the manpower… the standards are basically toilet paper.

Also the exact number of deaths of animals is suspect considering they are industry supplied figures. Who keeps records of how many animals die during the local transport cycle? No one; because there is no central registry within each state or in Australia