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The Government’s latest quarterly Regulatory Performance Report on Australia’s assurance system for live exports reads as a litany of failure and horrific treatment of Australian livestock.

The Report on the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources includes incidents in Gaza of ‘cattle being forcibly dragged or made to jump off trucks,’ ‘slaughter without the use of appropriate restraint facilities’, ‘the use of multiple cuts and stabbing or sawing motions’, and ‘animals still conscious several minutes after first cut made’.

RSPCA Australia’s Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer, Dr Bidda Jones, said Australians and the producers who sold their live animals into the export market would be appalled by the details in the report.

“The report details investigations into incidents as far back as February 2014 in Gaza, May 2015 in Israel, June 2015 in Vietnam, and November 2015 in Thailand. The length of time taken to report back to the public, farmers and the industry is totally unsatisfactory,” Dr Jones said.

“Of the many disturbing incidents outlined in the report, the non-compliance events in Thailand and Vietnam reveal that exporters are rushing into these new and yet non-compliant markets.

“ESCAS is supposed to ensure all exported Australian animals are handled and slaughtered according to minimum standards set by the Australian Government. This is obviously not the case.

“There was also a report of 134 cattle which were ‘lost’ by the exporter in Thailand. They turned up in Vietnam.

Dr Jones said the report recorded two critical non-compliances against the exporter Livestock Shipping Services (LSS). ‘Critical’ incidents are the highest form of non-compliance.

“LSS has now racked up three critical, two major and one minor non-compliance, yet not one of these incidents has resulted in a prosecution. What is the point of having a regulatory system if those who abuse it are allowed to continue business as usual?

“This report, and its description of a litany of cruelty to Australian animals, is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Most of these investigations rely entirely on reporting from third parties, including video footage from Animals Australia. One incident investigated in Vietnam resulted from a coincidental visit by Meat and Livestock Australia staff to a local abattoir that was not ESCAS approved.

“It is also very disturbing to read that there is renewed industry interest in reviving the export trade to Gaza, despite multiple confirmed reports of serious animal welfare breaches in that market.

“The report fails to mention that 29 complaints of breaches of live export regulations are still under investigation, dating as far back as December 2014. Many of them involve Australian sheep and cattle being sold outside the supply chain with ‘unknown or potential adverse animal welfare outcomes’. Put simply, this means those animals are being slaughtered inhumanely.

“ESCAS was supposed to ensure Australian animals would be exported into markets overseas where minimum standards could be guaranteed. This report proves that is not the case, and it reveals the ongoing industry and Government failure to enforce animal welfare standards in sovereign countries,” said Dr Jones. 

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