44 strikes and you’re … not out? RSPCA calls for export licence to be stripped after further animal welfare breaches

RSPCA Australia has called for the Australian Government to strip the export licence from a company that has breached live export regulations 44 times, following new reports of non-compliance at an abattoir in Jordan involving Australian sheep.

The Jordanian-owned exporter, Livestock Shipping Services (LSS), has by far the highest number of breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) framework – a framework which was created specifically to address animal cruelty in export supply chains.

RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said that these reports were deeply concerning – but given the Department of Agriculture’s ‘light-touch’ regulatory approach, not surprising.

“There is almost no deterrence built into the Department’s compliance approach,” said Dr Goodfellow. 

“No wonder this keeps happening.”

“This time last year, sheep exported by LSS were found in 10 different unapproved locations in Jordan, with multiple advertisements posted on social media for their sale outside of approved supply chains.

“But what were the actual consequences? The Department required LSS to develop a ‘more robust management plan’ for next time.

“With ‘sanctions’ like this, it’s no wonder the exporter has a rap sheet as long as it does,” he said

Dr Goodfellow also said that with 44 previous breaches of ESCAS over the past eight years – 14 more than the next highest exporter – it was beyond time for LSS to lose its licence to export.

“If exporters cannot respect Australian law, they do not deserve to do business here.”

“Removing LSS’s export licence is the only appropriate sanction. In no other line of work do you get to break the rules 44 times, and still keep your licence.

“Revoking their licence would be proportionate to the scale of non-compliance this exporter has engaged in and the magnitude of suffering to which it has contributed over many years.

“The Department of Agriculture must get serious about upholding its own regulations, because it’s clear that without tough penalties, exporters will continue flouting the rules. We are once again calling for an urgent review of the Department’s enforcement framework,” said Dr Goodfellow.

The RSPCA wrote to Minister Littleproud and Department Secretary Andrew Metcalfe in August last year calling for an urgent review of the framework, but has not yet been notified of any outcome to this review to-date.