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14 June 2011

Australia’s two peak animal protection bodies – RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia – have today denounced as completely unacceptable the terms of reference of the Gillard Government’s investigation into the live animal export trade.

“It’s clear that Minister Ludwig’s primary objective is to shore up the future of the live export industry but most disappointing is that he has set the bar so low for animal welfare that no animal will be better off as a result,” said Lyn White, Animals Australia Cruelty Investigator.

 “Using World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) standards as a benchmark is not acceptable – they are well below Australian standards and do not exclude non-stunned slaughter or the roping slaughter that occurs in Indonesia and that causes such suffering.

“To suggest at the end of this that Australian animals could continue to be exported to countries where they will not be stunned prior to slaughter is not only out of step with what cattle producers have said they want but it’s completely at odds with community expectations.”

RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist Dr Bidda Jones said it is disappointing that the review is not incorporating what the majority of Australians want – a transition from live exports to a boxed meat only trade.

“This review finally recognises that there are significant welfare problems as a result of live exports to and in all markets so it’s absurd for this investigation to not seriously examine transitioning away from the live trade all together,” said Dr Jones.

“We know from extensive evidence gathered in the Middle East since 2003 that the treatment of Australian animals is cruel and unacceptable and well below Australian standards. Having witnessed the horrors of non-stunned slaughter in Indonesia, the Australian community is never again going to accept Australian animals being slaughtered whilst fully conscious in importing countries. 

“There are inherent risks to the welfare of Australian livestock that can never be overcome due to the absence of animal protection laws in importing countries. Another ‘Indonesia’ is just waiting to happen.

“Every time we export animals overseas to a country that has lower standards, it is a failure - a failure of our duty of care to those animals and it is a failure to producers who need and deserve certainty of the stability of their markets. 

“They are never going to get this from the live trade or as a result of this government investigation. The Gillard Government must prioritise the interests of these producers and the interests of Australian livestock by instigating an investigation that incorporates phasing out the live trade.”

After meeting with DAFF officials and hearing they were going to take two months to review a restraint box that has already been condemned by international experts, RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia said they had no confidence in the Department's ability to conduct this investigation. A meeting with the Prime Minister is still being sought.


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