20 June 2011
At the RSPCA Australia Board meeting this weekend in Canberra, the Board unanimously supported the continuation of the current campaign to bring an end to the live export of animals for slaughter.
The RSPCA has long held the position that animals should be slaughtered as close to the point of production as possible. The RSPCA does not believe that the live export of animals for slaughter is justifiable due to the considerable risks to the welfare of animals involved.
If however, the Australian Government decides to continue the live export trade for any period of time, whether to Indonesia, the Middle East or elsewhere, the RSPCA will continue actively working to ensure that any animals exported have their welfare protected.
The RSPCA Australia Board is of the view that World Animal Health (OIE) guidelines are an unacceptable benchmark for allowing the re-entry of Australian cattle into Indonesia. OIE guidelines are well below Australian standards and allow non-stunned slaughter and roping slaughter. The OIE guidelines set out basic principles and recommendations but do not constitute a framework of verifiable standards that allows for auditing.
The RSPCA Australia Board confirmed that it will continue to liaise with Government and industry on the following:
In order for the treatment of cattle to be reliably and sustainably improved, the slaughter of Australian cattle must be restricted to locations where a skilled and permanent workforce is employed, pre-slaughter stunning is effectively used, training and independent auditing programs are in place, and, ideally, enforceable animal welfare regulations are introduced.
The standards for slaughterhouses must include, but not be limited to, upright restraint and stunning and be independently audited against the standards. A useful place to start would be an audit of the current facilities in Indonesia that routinely use stunning against the Australian standards. This should be conducted by an independent person skilled in this area such as an AUS-MEAT auditor. The independent auditor should make a public declaration as to compliance or otherwise against these standards. Until such independent information about the standards to which slaughterhouses in Indonesia are operating is available, the RSPCA and Australian community can have no confidence in the outcomes for Australian cattle.
All Australian animals must also be traceable throughout the supply chain and records kept and monitored of the fate of every exported animal.
The 80,000 -100,000 Australian cattle currently in Indonesian feedlots should be rapidly funnelled into the proposed future supply chain arrangements and to facilities using upright stunning.
Mechanisms for the domestic processing of cattle that were destined to be exported live for slaughter, but held back in Australia, must be rapidly put in place and the Government and industry must address support for producers and the industry needed to make this happen. The Board noted that the welfare of cattle in Australia is protected by Australian animal welfare legislation.
The Government should be investigating options for cattle, sheep and goat producers to move away from live exports altogether.