A Northern Territory producer who turns off around 3,500 Brahmans each year for live export to Indonesia has been reported saying that the federal government should see it as “their responsibility to assist an industry like this and keep it in business."
The comment, reported by the North Queensland Register, comes in response to DAWR’s proposed cost increases to cover the regulatory burden the live export industry creates. DAWR reportedly estimates the regulatory cost recovery for 3,500 cattle shipped to Indonesia by sea at $4.38 per head, an estimated 0.38 percent of the consignment's value.
Currently, exporters are only paying for around 25 percent of DAWR’s regulatory expenses.
So should the Government be keeping the industry in business? Here’s just one routine voyage, the 14-day, October 2019 voyage (Independent Observer Report 197) of the Ocean Drover from Townsville to Jakarta and Panjang, where problems were evident from the outset:
- unhealthy cattle were loaded (one with lumpy jaw....another with non weight bearing lameness due to an infected swollen hind fetlock with a MISSING CLAW in breach of Australian Standards (ASEL), as were bulls bleeding because their horns were cut too short
- part of the loading ramp was loosely fastened using baler twine and that some cattle were hit by the flapping walls as they passed .....seriously??
And then matters got worse. Once underway, the observer recorded:
1. “A recumbent cow in the hospital pen with depression, difficulty breathing and nasal/ocular discharge was not offered water and found dead in the same position as filmed 12 hours earlier. Her position indicated a failed attempt to reach water... her head and neck outstretched less than a meter from the water trough.”
2. “Areas became flooded with heavy effluent during discharge in Jakarta Port - challenging for crew and cattle standing in some pens with liquid effluent fetlock deep for over 30 hours.”
3. Animals were not euthanased in a timely fashion
4. No sawdust bedding in the hospital pens despite enough being loaded ....
AND on it went till discharge, where the observer noted several physical hazards and highlighted that there was “indiscriminate use of electric prods on face and body” of the cattle. The electric prods were used on cattle inside the ship and on the ship's unloading ramp, with some cattle down and being trampled at the time. Cattle got their heads or horns stuck in netting on the trucks they were loaded on, with some showing signs of choking.
This is just one voyage. The exporters and producers should be grateful that the Australian Government not only subsidised their industry but even covered up for them - yep it took VALE's FOI documents to expose the true issue. However, there are many more independent observer reports revealing or hinting at the systemic poor animal welfare in this trade (see VALE’s website) all of which which highlight why this industry has to be policed and why the Australian taxpayer should never have to foot that bill.