Export system fails Aussie animals again

The RSPCA is demanding urgent regulatory action from the federal Government after disturbing vision of Australian animals suffering during the Eid Festival of Sacrifice surfaces yet again.

Despite warnings from Animals Australia investigators, and the Australian Live Exporters Council, (ALEC) itself acknowledging that supply chains in the Middle East could not be secured, the federal Government has once again allowed Australian animals to be exported to markets where cruelty is inevitable.

“Every year for over a decade, there has been appallingly brutal treatment of Australian animals across the Middle East during the Eid. Yet every year the Government issues more permits for the same markets to the same export companies. Enough is enough,” said Dr Bidda Jones, Chief Science and Strategy Officer, RSPCA Australia.

“Exporters know full well it is their responsibility to retain animals within approved facilities, yet prior to the start of this year’s Eid, ALEC admitted that several hundred Australian sheep would ‘potentially face home slaughter’ in Kuwait. A few days later it emerged that hundreds of sheep had slipped through the hands of exporters in Oman. Now on 7.30 we have seen the awful consequences of these breaches.

“The whole point of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was to provide the Australian public with a guarantee that livestock would be better treated. Instead we again have evidence of widespread cruelty and abuse of the system.

“This Government’s continued lack of effective regulatory action has resulted in the suffering of thousands more of our animals. The consequences of letting offenders get off scot-free are now abundantly clear, with several thousand sheep across three countries sold outside supply chains to endure the pain and distress of street slaughter.

“There are two obvious actions the government should have taken to prevent this: imposed strong penalties on exporter companies breaking the rules, and introduced a full traceability system for all exported sheep.

“Any exporter caught with animals outside the system should have their licence immediately suspended, and all sheep must be electronically tagged so that they can be tracked through the system.

“ID tagging of cattle has been mandatory since ESCAS was introduced, yet sheep producers and exporters have resisted this move despite it costing only a couple of dollars per head. Today we have seen the true cost of this in terms of animal suffering.

“The horrific vision we witnessed on 7:30 demonstrates yet again that the best way to protect our animals is to keep them in Australia and process them to Australian standards. That’s what the government should be focusing on to secure a sustainable future for Australian producers,” said Dr Jones.