20 July 2012
Special Minister of State Gary Gray has welcomed the Australian Government’s re-statement of support for the livestock export trade.
In its response to a Senate Inquiry into the live export issue, the government said it will provide $5 million in support to exporters to improve their supply chains, not just in Indonesia, but all live export markets.
It will also offer $10 million to help those importing countries improve their animal welfare and handling.
The Senate committee recommended that two bills drafted by the Greens and Independent MPs aimed at shutting down the live export trade should not be passed, a recommendation the Government has supported. (Further details in Background)
Mr Gray said the livestock export industry in 2010 earned more than $1.012 billion – underpinning the employment of more than 10,000 people.
“Dozens of local families connected with operations in Wellard and Baldivis rely directly on the export of sheep and cattle,” Mr Gray said.
“For example, Wellard Rural Exports is an important employer exporting up to 800,000 sheep a year and has worked hard to ensure that animal welfare processes are not neglected in their operations.
“While the company doesn’t export cattle from its operations here in Kwinana, it does run large specialised sheep feedlots here. Sheep are brought to these lots prior to export from Fremantle Port.
“The fact that Wellard is one of the first companies to regain its license to export cattle to Indonesia shows that it is committed to high animal welfare standards.”
Last year, the Australian Government made significant reforms to the live export trade with the introduction of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).
Australian producers work hard to ensure their animals are treated well on their property and expect the transporters, exporters and processors to do the same. The broader community also expects that duty of care.
ESCAS delivers those assurances, as well as the stability needed for the live export industry to continue in the future. It allows the regulator to investigate when the required standards are not met, and take action, as has occurred in this instance.
The new regulatory system has been rolled out to cover 75 per cent of Australia’s live export markets, with 99 per cent to be covered by the end of August. By the end of 2012, all markets will be covered.
As part of its commitment to ensuring high standards in the live export industry, the Australian Government announced this week it is undertaking a review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and the role and function of the Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group (LESAG).
The government is also undertaking, in a separate process, a review of the livestock inspection processes for sheep prior to export at the port of Fremantle.
These reviews are being conducted in-line with the government’s response to the recommendations of the Independent Review into Australia’s Livestock Export Trade by Mr Bill Farmer, AO (the Farmer review) announced on 21 October 2011.
The Government report has also rejected recommendations contained in dissenting reports by the Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon calling for mandatory pre-slaughter stunning of Australian livestock.
“Imposing a mandatory requirement of pre-slaughter stunning for Australian livestock in overseas markets would be, prima facie, inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the World Trade Organisation and would also be unacceptable to a number of our key trading partners,” the Government report said.
“The Australian Government’s current approach under a new regulatory framework for livestock exports for feeder and slaughter purposes is to require exporters to ensure that animals are handled and slaughtered in accordance with International World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare requirements.
“The OIE does not mandate stunning of animals prior to slaughter. OIE standards cover the whole slaughter process and if followed substantially reduce welfare compromise in livestock, particularly before and during non-stun slaughter.”
It added that the Government continued to encourage the use of stunning in all livestock export trade for feeder and slaughter purposes.
The Government’s response accepted the bulk of the recommendations emanating from last year’s senate inquiry, with a handful of exceptions.
One was a recommendation that the Government provide further assistance to businesses that suffered irrevocable financial costs as a result of the temporary ban on exports to Indonesia last year.
The Government’s view is that the range of assistance measures it has already provided are sufficient.
It said that assistance provided to date has included:
For more information about the new system or the report, contact the regulator, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, or visit DAFF's livestock export webpage .
|John Arthur - 0408 991 261