Live Export Shame

All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News October 04, 2012, 11:40:14 PM

: Tony Zappia: Sending animals to the slaughter 4.10.2012
: WA Export News October 04, 2012, 11:40:14 PM
RECENT footage of animal cruelty involving breeder cows in Qatar and sheep originally destined for Bahrain has reignited the live export debate.

 It is a matter which people feel very passionately about. It is also a matter which can widen the divide between city and country communities for which live exports provide jobs and income.
 
    (http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2012/10/04/1226488/387976-pakistan-livestock-sheep.jpg)   LACK OF CONTROL - A Pakistani worker with infected Australian sheep authorities planned to cull. Picture ASIF HASSAN/AFP  Source: AFP
   

Australian live export trade underpins the employment of around 10,000 people mainly in WA, NT and Queensland.

Australia has become the world's largest exporter of livestock. In 2011, the live export trade was worth about $1 billion with more than three million animals, mainly cattle, sheep and goats, exported.

While live sheep exports peaked at 6.8 million in 2001, numbers have been declining steadily, with 2.45 million exported in 2011.

Cattle exports peaked in 2009 at 772,866 but also have slipped in subsequent years.
   
The suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in June 2011 triggered a significant shake-up of the livestock export industry. The suspension was followed by an independent review of live exports by Bill Farmer AO before trade resumed in August 2011.

All 14 recommendations of the Farmer review were adopted by the Federal Government.

Among the recommendations:

AN
Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) must now be in place before an export licence is granted. The ESCAS process is intended to track animals through to their end destination.

BREEDER
animals were not included in the ESCAS process and a separate report about breeder animal exports is to be provided to the Minister by October 31.

AUSTRALIAN
standards for the export of livestock would be reviewed by February 28 next year.
 
A major hurdle to imposing better conditions for livestock exports is that international animal welfare standards set by the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE), are very basic and much weaker than Australian standards.

While all countries that we export to are OIE members, prescribing anything more than international standards can be problematic.

As we recently saw with the sheep that ended up in Pakistan, Australia's agreement with Bahrain, where those sheep were originally destined, proved worthless.

The core of the argument against live export is that once animals leave Australia we lose control of what happens to them.

There are also claims that the live export trade is solely profit motivated with a 2011 report for the livestock industry by the Centre For International Economics highlighting a lower return to farmers for livestock processed in Australia.

There is little doubt that overseas abattoirs are cheaper to run than those in Australia. A counterview by ACIL Tasman concluded that Australia would benefit by processing animals in Australia and increasing exports of chilled meat.

Arguments that the live export trade has been driven by a combination of a lack of refrigeration facilities in export countries, and a demand for religious slaughter to accommodate cultural needs, also lack credence.

Last year, 99 per cent of Australia's live sheep exports went to the Middle East where, according to a Drum and Gunning-Trant report of 2008, refrigeration is not a barrier. Religious slaughter also can be carried out in Australia, where specific standards are in place.

The only argument that appears to have some validity is that there are no abattoirs in northern Australia. If that is the case, an increase in the export of chilled meats would support the viability of a new abattoir being built in Australia's north.

What is clear is  the live export trade has been driven by industry self-interest and self-regulation.

As the Farmer report states, the live export trade is sustainable only if it can demonstrate animal welfare outcomes acceptable to the Australian community.

A good start would be to:

PURSUE
discussions already under way about establishing a new abattoir in Australia's north.

ESTABLISH
an Independent Office of Animal Welfare.

ADDRESS
animal cruelty within Australia.


Tony Zappia is the Member for Makin, and is a member of the Federal Government's Live Export Working Party
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