In a bizarre twist, RETWA is bellyaching about the ban on ME summer sheep exports. Sure its a government directive but the industry self-imposed this moratorium in December 2018, well ahead of government action.
So, RETWA have had at least 5 months to prepare and restructure their workforce and operations but seemingly havent done so. Their big competitor LSS has a more diversified business, which includes two abattoirs and a feedlot. With the writing on the wall, one would have thought RETWA might have considered a little bit of diversification themselves. But no....nothing doing....and sure enough the old job card has been pulled. No doubt they want to tug at the heartstrings of our new Ag Minister.
Outgoing Ag Minister David Littleproud is quite right: his successor must not to "slip back" on live-export reforms. Australians saw firsthand in 2018, the nature of the live export industry that has operated without check or balance for over 40 years. Minister Littleproud put together the most comprehensive reviews (including of his own Department) that the industry has known. He saw the extreme suffering of the animals and absolute and potentially irreparable damage this could cause to the reputation of Australian agriculture. The modest reforms that have resulted from the reviews have already had a very significant impact - not enough based on independent scientific analysis (eg by the Australian Veterinary Association) but much better than previous. And his reforms certainly had the chance of redeeming Australian agricultural welfare, which took a very big hit after the footage.
So, for the animals and Australian farmers, dont slip here Minister....its not about "vegan activists", its about veterinary advice and public perception.
Against all logic and scientific evidence that shows that sheep are highly likely to suffer on June voyages, the Ocean Drover was allowed to set sail on Sunday night, loaded with livestock for the Middle East.
And, everyone criticised Animals Australia for their "last minute" efforts to stop it. Just HOW does any politician think that AA, RSPCA, AVA, VALE or any other group could possibly know that a ship was going to leave for the Middle East loaded with sheep on 26th May. Its not as though the exporters or the Dept kindly inform any of the animal welfare advocacy or veterinary groups of their intentions. So, we are always left with last minute actions and firefighting-type responses.
If this industry WERE actually open and transparent, which it is not AND if the Department were open and transparent (which despite the Moss Review, it is not), then organisations such as AA would not be left with these options. Very disingenuous for the WA Minister to then lay the blame at AA's doors. A low hit, Minister Mac Tiernan.
VALE blogged yesterday on the issue of sheep being transported in June despite an industry moratorium. Today, the ABC reports that the consignment of 56,000 head of sheep is in doubt due to a last minute, 700-page submission against the voyage by Animals Australia. Apparently RETWA has till midday on Friday to respond.
The ABC reports that farmers have indicated they would be prepared to get off the tractors, go to Fremantle, help load the boat, throw the ropes and deal with the legal ramifications later on. Well.....we dont think that will be happening as they banned all public from Freo Port to ensure VALE couldnt legally observe loading operations (and write damning submissions on it!).
In Dec 2018, ALEC stated that there will be no trade of live sheep to the Middle East for three months from June 1 2019 - an industry imposed moratorium. This was welcomed as a positive sign that the industry were recognising issues with animal welfare on ships in June, July and August and being proactive.
Well, the Ocean Drover is due into Fremantle and Emanuels (yes the exporter that lost their export licence after the heat stress issues exposed in 2018) was buying up export sheep at sales in WA (Muchea) yesterday to ensure there are sheep for export to the Middle East on the Drover.
Yep thats right.....the welfare issues onboard ships to the Middle East in June apparently arent a problem provided the ships can leave the country by May 31st. Sadly, the Australian Government works off the same calendar.
Day 2: one of our members notices that the AVA's policy council are due to respond to a letter from a veterinarian to the Australian Veterinary Journal, complaining about the existing policy wording “Where live export occurs, an Australian-registered shipboard veterinarian must accompany each shipment and this veterinarian must be independent and thus not employed by either the exporting company or the shipping company.
VALE believe that is imperative that the AVA policy clause remains unchanged. Independence of veterinarians is a) necessary to protect the veterinarians themselves (any shipboard veterinarian that has ever spoken out about animal welfare or shipboard conditions has lost their job when they should have been rewarded...by the government) and b) because any Australian government authorised veterinarian should be paid by the Australian government (from exporter funds) and not by the exporter. Their role as dictated by ASEL (ASEL v 2.3) is to record and that should be an independent function. AND.....lets face it, if the government itself thought the arrangement was watertight they wouldnt have placed INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS on all the ships in addition to the exporter-employed veterinarians!
So we have followed up. Please watch this space and if you are a veterinarian who is a member of the AVA please contact VALE immediately on email@example.com
For the first time in history, Australians had the chance to vote for the end of the live sheep export trade. Unfortunately, for our animals, it turns out that animal welfare was a low priority for wealthy Australia. Not only will sheep export continue but there will be no independent office overseeing livestock welfare and pursuing a nationally consistent welfare strategy.
Of course its disappointing, but if the Coalition think that we will give up the live ex fight, they are as mistaken as the recent election polls. So rest assured, VALE will continue, as it always has, to forensically analyse every bit of possible information on live export voyages and attempt to expose every single cover up by the Department of Agriculture.
Its Day 1 and we are back to business as usual. We will not give up.
Well, Libs have done a lot of talking and havent delivered.....Moss Review...went nowhere, Lawler Enquiry.....nowhere.....Independent Observer Reports.....sanitised by the governments own department (so.....nowhere)....ASEL Review (a couple of improvements but essentially......went nowhere)...and who knows what they are going to do with the HSRA recommendations? The only real positive has been a decrease in stocking density on May to Oct voyages after the McCarthy Report.
So, what are the ALP promising? Promises are made to be broken...we all know that....but the ALP does actually have an Animal Welfare Plan. For the plan details and comments, see today's article in The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/can-labors-animal-welfare-plan-improve-australias-lacklustre-record-116261