We all knew ESCAS was flawed with non-independent auditors, auditors not trained in animal welfare, the vast majority of breaches found by Animals Australia (a not for profit charity) etc etc. However, despite all the flaws evident on analysis of the ESCAS Review, no-one anticipated that we would be opt to wind it back: reduced auditing and non-independent risk based assessments.
May as well just let the overseas facilities assess themselves (they can always aim for those oh-so-third 'world'-achievable OIE 'standards'). Much easier for the exporters. And lets face it, the government will still get its independent audits done at no cost by Animals Australia...and take no action, as per usual.
So, what about being transparent precludes action in Vietnam? If this industry was serious about welfare, they would be voluntarily suspending trade to Vietnam until the problems are sorted. Instead, they suggest that as the problem is "not universal" ....its not necessary. The fact that >180000 cattle were flogged off there last year and that Jan has just set a new monthly record (37500) apparently has nothing to do with it.
Ms Penfold commented that "a number of facilities have been suspended". Exactly what number? How many of the 89 "ESCAS" abattoirs has problems? As RSPCA Australia's chief scientist Bidda Jones stated so aptly: "If abuse is commonplace in non-approved facilities, it's ludicrous to suggest that the industry has been able to stamp it out in approved abattoirs; it takes far more than an occasional audit and a voluntary training course to permanently change entrenched practices."
Its just over a month since veterinarian and industry scion Dr Ross Ainsworth publically espoused the animal welfare that ESCAS has achieved in Vietnam.
Yet the exporters themselves have blown the whistle on the real situation in Vietnam: animals escaping the accredited supply chain and suffering brutal practices including unsuccessful bludgeoning and being "flooded" (definition: cattle having water forced down by hose to increase rumen fill and saleable weight before slaughter).
So gangbusters has turned to mythbusters.....and one would be forgiven for surmising that some revealing independent footage is about to be aired.
Whilst, Dr Bidda Jones, chief scientist of RSPCA, appropriately criticises the eroding of ESCAS investigation transparency, Ms Penfold of ALEC also doesnt hold back. She, like anyone concerned with monitoring ESCAS, stated recently that the time the Dept of Ag (DA) takes to investigate non-compliance is unacceptable.
Must be hard for the DA being taken to task by ALEC when they bend over backwards to accommodate the live-ex trade and its non-compliance.... even removing its transparency to hinder independent scientific scrutiny by groups such as RSPCA and VALE.
[Note: VALE would argue it also takes too long to investigate high mortality voyages and that the detail in the high mortality voyage reports is also steadily being eroded over time].
The "illogic" of it all
"It is also imperative to understand the important role live export plays in globally improving animal welfare."Pity our animals dont get a welfare dollar for every time the live ex industry tells us they are improving animal welfare overseas. If that really was the case, Indonesia 2011 wouldnt have happened (after 20 years of presence in Indonesia), Egypt 2012 wouldnt have happened (despite closed live ex facilities to avoid the infamous Bassatin abattoir, which still operates for local cattle) and ESCAS itself wouldnt have been necessary because 30 years of industry involvement should have meant high standards in destination countries..
Time to face the logic here - we dont and cant ever impose Australian standards on other countries that dont have their own laws to protect animals. Even if we improve things a bit for our own, it is farcical to think we impact on a country's overall animal welfare status....and lets face it, we cant even influence the fate of our own citizens in one of those destination countries.