ESCAS Performance Report: Horrors without Sanction

The Government’s latest quarterly report into the regulatory performance of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) provides another litany of horrific treatment of Australian livestock.

Among other incidents, the report, released through the Department of Agriculture’s website yesterday, contains details of:

*  thousands of sheep being sold outside of approved supply chains in Kuwait,

*  sheep being trussed and thrown into car boots and slaughtered in makeshift slaughter rooms at livestock markets,

*  cattle being roped and struck multiple times in the head with sledgehammers in Vietnam.

RSPCA Australia has previously raised concerns about the rapid expansion of Australian Government approved supply chains into developing countries like Vietnam and Thailand.

The Australian Government has now allowed nine exporters to send 20,000-30,000 head of cattle per month to 118 different facilities in Vietnam. In 2012, just 3,353 cattle were exported to that country, while in 2015, the number had increased to 311,523.

The high risk posed by such rapid expansion is borne out by the country’s ESCAS compliance record. Vietnam has the highest record of non-compliance of all Australia’s live export markets. It is double the number of non-compliance reports in Indonesia.

The report, yet again, raises serious concerns about the quality and effectiveness of the auditors and auditing processes that are supposed to underpin the ESCAS. RSPCA Australia is also very concerned that critical and major non-compliances were recorded in the latest report, but no exporters were prosecuted or had their licenses suspended.

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) again featured with non-compliances. It had another two critical and five major non-compliances recorded against its performance, bringing the exporter’s record to five critical and seven major non-compliances.

The faults in the ESCAS system are amplified yet again, when an exporter such as LSS records numerous non-compliances without the regulator imposing meaningful sanctions.

Without adequate penalties, exporters will continue to take a cavalier approach to animal welfare and Australian livestock will continue to suffer.

The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.