Live Animal Export ‘Keniry Inquiry’ – October /December 2003.

Animals Australia approach

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Animals Australia (AA) has decided not to spend time providing a comprehensive submission to the so-called ‘Keniry Inquiry’ into some aspects of live animal export. Animals Australia’s time and resources are currently fully focused on further investigation of the live export trade’s inadequacies and in heightening the community’s knowledge of this inhumane trade.

The AA decision not to participate fully in this review has been taken because of two primary aspects;

that the composition of the Keniry review team is not ‘independent’ of the livestock industries and, that the ‘terms of reference’ provided to the review team are narrow, and therefore its’ recommendations will not be satisfactory. N.B. The AA decision is both political and practical, and if our members/supporters feel they wish to express their views to the Keniry Inquiry, then they are encouraged to do so (see end of document for contact details).

 

Background to the Inquiry

The inquiry was announced By Minister Truss in early October 2003 (as the sheep on board the Cormo Express entered their 10th week on the water), to enable ‘a viable and sustainable livestock export industry’ (Truss media release of 10/10/03).

At this stage the Review team does not intend to hold public hearings.

Written submissions are due by Friday 21 November 2003, and the Review team is to report to Minister Truss by the end of December 2003. It will be then be up to the Minister to decide whether it is released publicly.

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Independence of the Inquiry

Who is on the Review Team?

Dr John Keniry is to chair the Review. He is the past President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chairman of the Ridley Corporation (which among other things produces stockfood), and has ‘a lifetime’s experience in agribusiness’.

The other members of the review team are:

  • Mr Murray Rogers, chairman of the Quarantine and Exports Advisory Council. Mr Rogers is also chairman of the National Management Group established in 2001 to help forge a national approach to managing possible disease incursions.
  • Professor Ivan Caple, Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Dean of the faculty of Veterinary Science at Melbourne University. Professor Caple is also chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Animal Welfare.
  • Dr Michael Bond, Assistant Veterinary Director of the Australian Veterinary Association, and a former Director of Animal Health in the WA Department of Agriculture, and former chairman of the Veterinary Surgeons Board of WA. Dr Bond traveled to Eritrea as part of the team overseeing the unloading of the MV Cormo Express.
  • Mr Lachlan Gosse, a sheep and cattle producer from Hallett, South Australia. Mr Gosse has extensive livestock industry experience and has been a member of a number of State and national advisory bodies.

Dr John Keniry on ABC on 13/10/03 was quoted:

"What we're looking at in our terms of reference is to review all the procedures in place and see where they need to be improved or strengthened," he said

"The presumption at this stage would be that we will be able to come up with procedures and particularly fall back plans that will allow it to continue."

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Terms of reference

The review team will examine:

(i) the adequacy of welfare model codes of practice as they apply to the preparation and export of livestock;

(ii) the adequacy of current regulatory arrangements for the live export trade from farm of origin to ultimate destination;

(iii) the types of livestock suitable for export, especially ewes;

(iv) the need for supervision of each export voyage, in a manner that ensures accurate and transparent reporting of the condition of the livestock; and

(v) the specific factors that contributed to the excess mortalities on the MV Cormo Express V93 with particular reference to compliance with the requirements of the Saudi Livestock Export Program and associated arrangements for the Saudi market.

In undertaking the review the Review Team will take into account the recommendations of the Independent Reference Group in 2002 and implementation of the Action Plan for the Livestock Export Industry (APLEI) announced in October 2002, which is now being progressed through the Livestock Export Industry Consultative Committee (LEICC), and in particular the adequacy of:

  • the legislative and administrative arrangements being developed, including industry arrangements for developing and enforcing appropriate standards for livestock exports;
  • and risk management strategies necessary to address the health and welfare of animals during an export journey, including measures to ensure the live export industry is able to manage unforeseen events associated with the trade.

As the above indicates clearly – the intention is for the live export industry to continue.

Even if an adequate ‘system’ can be put in place to minimize the number of animals that suffer and die on ships, these Terms of Reference do not address the inevitable problem of the way our Australian animals will be treated in the importing country. While (ii) above refers to ‘ultimate destination’, Australian regulations cannot reach further than the ship, and thus the ‘destination’ is effectively the port of the importing country.

As if to underline this point, on Monday 3 November at the Senate Estimates Hearings in Canberra, Mr Dean Merrilees of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was questioned closely by Senator Kerry O’Brien (Opposition Spokesperson on Agriculture) –

Senator O’BRIEN—How does the government monitor animal welfare at foreign abattoirs that slaughter Australian animals exported to those countries?

Mr Merrilees—In a formal sense, we have no formal monitoring program at foreign abattoirs. It is a matter for the sovereign country to put in place any practices that they wish.

Senator O’BRIEN—So we have no protocols with any foreign nation about how animals will be treated upon landing?

Mr Merrilees—No.’

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The Animals Australia response to the Keniry Review -

AA will instead provide Minister Truss with an alternate view; merely a brief listing of the ‘evidence’ we hold (much of which has already been provided to the Minister and which details conditions for our animals in several Middle East countries) and advise him that we see little point in providing Dr Keniry’s team with anything more than this list, given the limiting terms of reference and the public statements by the Minister and Dr Keniry.

AA believes that regardless of any improvements that may be made in preparation of animals in Australia, their on-board conditions and management, and even protocols to ensure unloading at first/intended destination, their treatment in other countries is, and is highly likely to remain, unacceptable, and therefore the trade is unethical and must stop.

A copy of the letter to Minister Truss (and the brief listing of material held) will be provided to Dr Keniry with a cover letter to explain that while we have a keen interest in the topic, we will not provide a formal submission to an inquiry which has such limiting Terms of Reference.

AA members & supporters – what can you do?

If individuals wish to provide their own views to the Keniry Inquiry, then by all means do so. If individuals provide their views on the animal suffering caused by live animal export there will be a necessary reinforcement to the Review members that the community opposes live export.

Submissions are due by 21 November 2003, in writing to

Livestock Export Review
PO Box 3318
MANUKA ACT 2603

Or by emailing liveexportreview@secretariat.com.au

Inquiries can be made by phoning (02) 6295 9074.

Prepared by G Oogjes
11/11/2003

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