Submission to Live Export Review Board

The “Independent”Livestock Export Review has been carefully worded and has limited submissions by the public and other interested parties by requesting that we only comment within the “Terms of Reference” which are narrow and entirely biased towards the continuation of the trade. Mr Warren Truss has thus ensured that the farcical situation created by the Cormo Express tragedy will be whitewashed and that the public will be tricked into unwittingly condoning the industry by offering alternative solutions to the cruelty and barbarism, which will never be adhered to by industry, but will placate the public. It is essential that if we are to take part in the submission process that we do not offer alternatives within the terms of reference but simply explain why the live export of animals will never be a humane or acceptable practice.

[1] Address the adequacy of welfare model codes of practice as they apply to the preparation and export of livestock

The codes of practice relating to the welfare of livestock vary from State to State. Some are written in to the law of each State and some like WA are guidelines only. The Codes of Practice are an excuse to treat farm animals in an appallingly inhumane manner. Livestock welfare should be dealt with in exactly the same manner as all other animals and should fall under the Animal Welfare Act. No exemptions should be given. Codes of Practice are rarely adhered to and routinely ignored. They are totally inadequate for all aspects of animal husbandry, and condone barbaric practices that hark back to the dark ages. No one will take responsibility for policing the welfare of livestock. Ban The Trade.

[2] Address the adequacy of current regulatory arrangements for the live export trade from farm of origin to ultimate destination.

The Live Export industry has proven to be totally and utterly incapable of regulating itself. Livecorp has consistently covered up and falsified stock mortalities [see West Australian newspaper November 5th 2003] and the Federal Government has continually protected the industry despite all its massive faults and disgraceful record in animal welfare. The public will no longer trust any department connected with the industry. Animals are treated with total disregard for their welfare from the farm gate. The cruelty does not start in the Middle East or other receiving countries; it starts right here in Australia. Treatment during transportation, at loading points and feedlots are well documented and disgraceful. From the farm or sale yard the animals are transported with legs and heads outside the trucks, often broken and bleeding. Then they are beaten with sticks and iron bars at the docks whilst being loaded onto overcrowded ships which are poorly maintained and sometimes even converted car transporters! The poor creatures are then shipped half way across the world, standing knee deep in their own excrement, unable to lie down and gasping for air. Pregnant ewes forced to give birth in these appalling conditions only to have the lambs bashed to death and minced. It ends overseas with a terrible death often proceeded by horrific torture and barbaric treatment from the boat to the abattoir. The conditions at sea and at the port of destination are beyond Australia’s control. No welfare standards exist in the accepting countries and Australia is totally fooling itself if it thinks it can ever influence the treatment of our animals overseas! The treatment of animals in these countries and the methods of slaughter are firmly in-trenched in hundreds, if not thousands of years of religious and cultural tradition. They will not now or ever change just because we say so. Cruelty to animals is totally acceptable in the receiving countries and will remain so despite and in spite of any changes we suggest. Ban the trade!

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[3] Address the types of livestock suitable for export, especially ewes.

No type of livestock is suitable for live export. All farm animals belong on the farm, grazing over vast areas, lying down and chewing their cud, provide with shade and shelter and adequate water until it is time for their life to come to an end. Livestock should be slaughtered locally to the farm with minimum stress during transportation. All ruminants need to move around to properly digest their food. The pelletised diet provided on board ship is unnatural and causes problems in itself. They need to lie down and rest. All livestock are affected badly by rough seas and the constant movement in the water. It is extremely difficult to confirm pregnancy in Ewes without ultrasound. Codes of practice recommend that pregnant ewes should not be transported at all. Extreme temperatures and totally inadequate facilities on board create a hellish form of transport that cannot be tolerated any longer No type of livestock is suitable for export. Ban the Trade!

[4] Address the need for supervision of each export voyage, in a manner that ensures accurate and transparent reporting of the condition of the livestock.

The Australian public cannot trust any body working within the Live Export industry. The industry has a vested interest in covering up conditions on board ship, stock mortalities, and the horrendous cruelty and conditions the animals are forced to endure. The industry makes a few people and extreme amount of money and it is simply impossible to expect that the public will ever know the real truth about the true disgraceful nature of this trade. The industry has been shown to use strong arm tactics on anyone daring to expose these horrifying conditions and the veterinary officers have been shown to falsify records under pressure. Also veterinary officers that condone and work within the trade can not be trusted to make genuine comment on the condition of animals in their “care” as they are obviously willing to compromise all their principals regarding animal welfare for the almighty dollar. No one willing to travel on these ships of death can ever be considered independent and could not be trusted to report accurately or without bias to the trade. Ban the Trade!

[5] Address 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 programme and associated arrangements for the Saudi market.

The Cormo Express debacle is just one of many, many incidents of high mortality rates during shipment of live animals. The Cormo Express was a former car transported hastily converted when a chance to make a quick buck transporting animals was seen by the owners. Relying on movement of air by fans working at maximum whilst at open sea this ship was always a disaster waiting to happen! The Government will make sure that we will never know the true and accurate death toll during this voyage. It also made sure that we could not see the true and accurate condition of the surviving animals by deceiving the public into thinking the ship was coming back to Australia until unloading commenced free from scrutiny by the media. Sheep on the Cormo Express sadly had to endure far longer than normal on the poorly maintained vessel. Livecorps 1 month delay in asking for Government intervention cost valuable time. The ship experienced extreme temperatures whilst in port in stationary in the Gulf. This meant the fans were not working at full capacity for much of the time the animals were stranded. I would not be at all surprised to discover that many more thousands of sheep died during that fateful voyage than have been publicly admitted, and that thousands die on each and every voyage that leaves our shore! The sheep on board the Cormo express may or may not have been healthy. The fact is that Saudi Arabia can and will hold us to ransom on these issues whenever they like. The present world climate is very difficult and will not improve any time soon. There will never be any guarantees when dealing with these countries no matter what is put in writing. The livestock ships are rust buckets, registered in obscure overseas ports, half of the equipment doesn’t work all of the time! These trading countries are unreliable and totally will always remain un- accountable to Australia for their actions. There is absolutely no way that the Government can assure the public that this situation will not happen again or that it can be properly managed if it did. The Government have quite clearly shown to us by the incompetent handling of the Cormo crisis that they are unable to guarantee the welfare of our animals and therefore will put animal’s welfare at risk with every future shipment. This will happen again and again until you Ban the Trade!

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Summation

  1. The Live Export Trade is inherently flawed.
  2. The Government of the day, both at State and Federal level, cannot be trusted to tell the public the truth about the mortality rates, conditions on board the ships, and especially about the cruelty metered out to the animals both here and overseas. In fact the Government consistently protect and cover up these faults because they cannot be fixed and are a constant source of embarrassment.
  3. Livecorp have proved to the public that they cannot be trusted to manage the trade. They are totally indifferent to the welfare of the animals in their charge. They have been shown to falsify mortality rates on a regular basis. They are prepared to allow sub standard vessels and conditions and to cut corners at all points. Livecorp are a private company with a huge vested interest in the continuation of the trade. It would appear there are a few extremely wealthy operators in this industry who have friends in high places and use this to their advantage at every opportunity.
  4. This industry is kind to just a very few Australians. Job losses in the meat processing industry, as a direct result of Live Exports, are costing Australia far more than is bought in by live Exports. Livecorp pay no Stamp Duty and prefer to employ sub-contract workers and thus avoid payroll tax.
  5. The Government and the Industry have had 30 years to improve the industry and animal welfare conditions. Both bodies have failed miserably! The industry is totally beyond “fixing”. There is no right and proper way to export live animals over vast distances. The Government must start looking for other markets for our meat, which must be processed here in Australia, or one day we will be forced to purchase our meat, produced from Australian animals, from overseas processors at exorbitant prices because our own industry has been decimated. Also by that time the Farmers of Australia will have no choice but to sell to the Exporters because they will have no alternative market. They will then be offered a “take it or leave it” price, and quite frankly it will serve them right!
  6. Australia is fast earning a deserved reputation for animal cruelty, this will eventually cost the country money by losing tourist dollars and possibly even trading partners. We should turn this opinion around before it is too late!
  7. Ban the trade!

Courtesy of a long time anti live animal export campaigner.

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