8 days in and a perfect voyage according to RETWA Update 1 and 2. Update 2 photo show sparses stocking density and sawdust bedding ...interesting, bedding not usually provided for sheep export.
But they do admit to 2 cross bred ewes lambing and state that they were not required to be pregnancy checked by ASEL. ASEL requires any ewes over 40kg to have preg checks 30 days prior to export and the minimum recommended liveweights for ewes at joining are 45 kg for crossbreds according to NSW DPI. One assumes that these ewes must have been <40kg when sourced.
But as for that close departmental inspection claimed by the Government: well so far VALE has detected sheep >50kg, sheep with likely scabby mouth (see photo) and sheep with >20mm wool on the trucks (see previous blog) headed to Fremantle Port. Now we find that some late pregnant ewes missed that close and observant Dept eye as well.....oh dear perhaps they didnt look too closely after all.
Photo truck KO 855, back plates 9ST624. Leach Highway 16 June 2020
The National Farmers' Federation has called for state and federal governments to revive domestic manufacturing and processing amid concerns the agriculture industry relies too heavily on countries like China.
Chief Executive Tony Mahar told Landline the COVID-19 disruption presented an opportunity to strengthen supply chains and regional economies. "We need to have the food and fibre value-adding and processing here in this country," he said.
Yep.....and perhaps extend that to processing meat here also????
Live ex - an endangered species?
With the South Africans heading to Court and Australians imposing a ME summer moratorium (of sorts!), the EU Parliament has now approved the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry on live animal transport by land and sea, with 605 out of 689 members of parliament in favour.
The Parliament notes that the EU Commission has regularly been informed of systematic and severe animal welfare violations relating to handling, feed and water, bedding, ventilation, transport of unfit animals, etc.
One of the welfare issues is heat stress, and the concerns are much the same as those that are curtailing live exports from Australia and South Africa. As an EU report released in April this year notes: “In southern EU ports, the temperature frequently reaches and surpasses 30°C during the summer. Frequently, the authorities at departure do not take this into account when allowing the journeys to take place. In many vehicles arriving to ports during the summer, animals endure temperatures over 35°C.”
The EU report also states: “Currently, neither the Member States nor the Commission have information or statistics on the health and welfare state of the animals during sea journeys.”
That ignorance is global. Australia's Department of Agriculture has tried to whitewash the industry here, but whistleblowers continue to bring the truth to light. VALE, for its part, has worked tirelessly to obtain information through FOI requests, and analysing any little crumbs that the Dept does make available.
The live export industry is under the spotlight like never before, and its future, like the truth about its animal welfare record, is grim.
A quick look out at sea has just revealed the Al Kuwait heading back into Fremantle Port with hovering ?News helicopters overhead.
Its now the 19 June....surely whatever the problem is will now result in the sheep being offloaded and processed in Australia??? Or wiill they be allowed to sail even later into the season. Watch this space...
AL Kuwait gone, time to knock back VALE's Freedom OF Information request.....reason, was that basically too many hours of redacting required!!! Hmm maybe VALE were on the money....what are they trying to hide?
Accurately summed up by a Cathy Wilcox cartoon:
ABC News reports West Australian meat processors saying the state's sheep flock has fallen to such a critically low level that abattoirs could soon go to the wall, resulting in job losses.
Yet the Department of Ag would rather satisfy a Kuwaiti livestock exporter than take the humane option, stick to its own rules and process the sheep here - a move that could have helped struggling Australian abattoirs.
In his reasons for favouring the exporter and ignoring the moratorium, David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, admitted that he considered representations received from KLTT and the Embassy of the State of Kuwait.
The Australian Livestock Exporters Council entered the debate saying: “We remain committed to providing our global partners with high quality Australian red meat.”
Hmm and what about Australian consumers (with sheep meat prices already soaring)? Do they not count? We know the meat workers have never counted of course because they are not farmers.
Note: VALE has joined other animal welfare groups in calling for an independent observer to sail on the Al Kuwait. That call has been heeded even though their calls to stop the voyage were not. VALE calls for the observer's report, and CCTV footage of representative sheep on all decks at both the Equator and through the Straits of Hormuz, to be made available to the Australian public within four weeks of the completion of the voyage.
In granting his exemption for the Al Kuwait, the Dept of Ag Secretary, David Hazlehurst stipulated "sheep with wool of over 20mm are removed from the consignment".... Well lets hope they were removed at the Port David, because some quite obviously woolly sheep made it onto the trucks that went to the Port today.
Perhaps they were pulling the wool over your eyes??
Photograph of truck 1GRL421 (front plate) at Leach Highway/Stirling Highway intersection at 16:10, Tuesday 16 June 2020.
Breaking news: AA lose court case
And ALEC whipped out a quick statement, ignoring animal welfare concerns and saying the issue is "directly between the applicant and the regulator" - Again VALE says "no" it isn't. The government is answerable to the Australian public. And the Australian public is not happy about this. Nor incidentally is VALE!
See ALEC statement
Fate of sheep rests with the judge
The Australian Govt has granted permission to RETWA for leave to load the Al Kuwait but the court case mounted by Animals Australia is ongoing in Melbourne as we write this blog.
Whilst the outcome of that is not known, VALE does know the outcome for thousands of the original 56000 consignment...and that is local processing WA abattoirs. VALE was aware that about 8000 of the consignment had already been sent for slaughter. Yesterday, we had firsthand evidence as we watched the heavier sheep (ie >50kg) head down Albany Highway to southern abattoirs. It is now believed that 10000-12000 sheep have dodged the high risk voyage and have been slaughtered in Australia. Stunned slaughter in a first world country without 3 weeks of prior hell is definitely a win....a small win.....but a win nonetheless.
The RSPCA has expressed utter disbelief that the federal Department of Agriculture has backflipped on its decision to prevent the export of 50,000 sheep into the searing heat and humidity of Kuwait during the prohibited period of the Northern Hemisphere summer.
"This decision means sheep will be exposed to an even greater degree of suffering, in return for financial gain for one of Australia’s most notorious live exporters,” said Dr Goodfellow.
“The public can have no faith in the Department to drive progress or improvement to this industry, let alone enforce its own regulations, when it is so clearly compromised by external influences.”
RSPCA, like VALE has called on for an IO to be onboard.
See RSPCA media release. https://www.rspca.org.au/media-centre/news/2020/live-export-boiling-point-rspca-disbelief-over-exemption-backflip