From Australia's first live export conference in Townsville in 2013 (on right now!) we have:
"Through ESCAS, Australian livestock are now literally shepherded by their Australian exporters through the entire export supply chain" http://livexchangeconference2013.com/
Hmmm, so much for Australian shepherds then after last night's footage from Jordan.
With yet more footage of the failure that is ESCAS and the failure of the live export trade to protect the welfare of Australian animals, Mr Joyce, Minister for Agriculture, urged against an overreaction that could harm Australia's livestock industry.
"No matter how much we try we are still going to have banks being robbed by bank robbers, but we can't shut down the banking system," Mr Joyce told the ABC's News Breakfast today. Too true, but in this case “the bank” itself is the problem and the bank is culpable...perhaps akin to the bankers inviting the robbers in! One could argue that if they had a better "bank manager" it wouldn't happen.
Joyce says "let's manage it not close it down". OK, so lets manage it! Place independent veterinarians on the ships, allow transparent reporting and monitoring, have government officials overseas monitoring on the ground and apply sanctions to the exporters when the breaches occur (or why have any laws there in the first place?). There is no doubt we could manage it much better….if there were any will to do so.
Forty nine heifers died on a flight to Kazakhstan on 22nd/23rd Oct 2013. The cattle were all on the top tier of a two-level crate configuration. Reportedly the 747 freighter's air conditioning system malfunctioned.
However, according to Kazakh news service Tengrinews, Almaty Oblast chief veterinary inspector, Omirserik Kydyrbatev, said infringement of animal air transportation rules caused the cattle to suffocate.
Given the photo published by the same news service (presumably from this shipment), one wonders whether stocking density was an issue...it is odd that only animals on one tier were affected and that a veterinary inspector reportedly commented that infringements had occurred.
The paper, Heat stress: A major contributor to poor animal welfare associated with long-haul live export voyages (The Veterinary Journal, available online 21 September 2013) by Malcolm Caulfield and three other VALE members is now the 6th highest download from this journal on the Science Direct Website in the last 90 days.
The paper demonstrates that heat stress is a significant issue on many routine voyages to the Middle East and provides constructive suggestions as to how heat stress should be monitored on future voyages.
With news that thousands of export sheep have managed to elude the ESCAS process in Jordan and Kuwait, it seems that Barnaby Joyce is more worried about trading than animal welfare. Not only that but clearly he is keen to wind back the rules that are proving not stringent enough to protect our animals.
Minister Joyce said "What we have to do is let the process follow its proper mechanism and make sure our reaction is tempered by the effect that we're dealing with trading partners."
The minister is supportive of the live export rules introduced by the former Labor government, but says he is aiming to cut what he calls the "red and green tape for livestock exporters".
On 12 Oct 2012, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett stated that live animal exports will decline in coming years and in the meantime Australia should start sending carcasses overseas to avoid mistreatment of sheep and cattle.
It appears that Colin has conveniently forgotten that statement given his current trade talks with China. It is now reported that live cattle could be exported from Western Australia to China in 6 months. The Premier has hosed down any fears that Australian animals could be mistreated in Asia. Reassuring!
Elders has estimated that alleged discrepancies in reported livestock values it referred to in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange last Tuesday amount to $18million! Not an insubstantial amount of money and one that certainly inflates the Australian cattle export trade value figures.
Elders also confirmed the resignations of seven senior management staff from its live cattle trading division. It has since been confirmed that the seven staff will join Elders' rival Ruralco!
The Prime Minister has reportedly commented in Indonesia that he “rejects any notion that Indonesian [abattoir] standards are lower than Australia’s”. At the same time, Colin Barnett indicated that the federal government had insulted the Islamic religion in Saudi Arabia: "I haven't visited Saudi Arabia, let alone their abattoirs, but I would imagine many of them would be of a very high standard," he said.
Good to know that evidence-based assessments are no longer necessary with respect to animal welfare (or politics in general).