Aussie cattle suffering in Indonesia a horrific reminder of gaping live export loophole

Following new revelations of Australian breeder cattle languishing in terrible conditions in Indonesia, RSPCA Australia has today once again called for urgent action by the Australian Government to address a loophole in live export regulations, that allows the export of animals for breeding and dairy production purposes with no protection in importing countries.

Images released by the ABC today show Australian cattle that were sold to the Indonesian government in 2018 starving and emaciated, as well as rotting carcases showing withered conditions.

“Yet again, we find ourselves facing another example of the live export industry failing Australian animals,” RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow said.

“Today’s story is just the latest in a long series of disasters, with reports as recently as April this year showing Australian dairy cattle suffering in Sri Lanka.

“How many more incidents like these will it take before the government takes decisive action to protect Aussie animals live exported for breeding purposes? How much more international shame will we allow the live export industry to bring upon our farming sector?

“The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said it expressed concerns about the export deal but nevertheless proceeded to supply Australian cattle knowing of the risks. That’s unconscionable. 

“It seems they’re willing to sacrifice these cattle to this horrendous fate as the cost of doing business.

“We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again - there is a loophole in Australia’s live export regulation that you could drive a cattle truck through. 

“The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (or ESCAS), a system designed by Government to supposedly address the deepening community concern for the welfare of animals sent overseas, does not apply to the tens of thousands of breeding and dairy cattle exported every year.

“The RSPCA has been calling for action to close this gaping loophole since the ESCAS was first introduced in 2011, and yet the system remains unchanged, the Government continues to flounder, and our animals continue to suffer overseas.

“The Minister for Agriculture needs to act to address community concerns and better protect Australian cattle by extending the ESCAS to apply to breeder and dairy cattle.

“The RSPCA also calls upon the Australian Government to release the full report prepared by LiveCorp into this issue. It’s not acceptable to keep the report hidden from the Australian public. 

“Community trust in the live export industry is already severely damaged, 

“And the more incidents like these that are brought to light, the more it confirms the concerns of Australians - that live exporters only care about profits, and don’t care about animal welfare,” Dr Goodfellow said.


  • In April this year, an ABC investigation revealed horrific images and footage of starving, sick, dead and dying dairy cattle exported by Wellard from Australia to Sri Lanka.

  • A previous ABC investigation in 2012 also revealed horrific conditions for Australian dairy cattle live exported to Qatar, with hundreds dying as result of not being provided with adequate food, water and shelter in the desert conditions. 

  • In 2018, Australia exported 106,634 breeder cattle to overseas destinations.