Thursday, 10 August 2017
Live Animal Exports
This June Australia once again faced reports of horrendous animal cruelty taking place at the Al Rai livestock market in Kuwait during the Festival of Sacrifice. It is alleged that Australian sheep found their way outside the approved Export Supply Chain Assurance System, ESCAS, and were slipped into the Kuwait marketplace, where they suffered in the heat before being sold off individually to face backyard slaughter. This represents a severe breach of the ESCAS regulatory framework, which has once again undermined public confidence in the system and allowed for Australian sheep to potentially be subjected to terrible treatment. This is not acceptable. Labor has written to the minister, Barnaby Joyce, expressing our concerns over these reports, requesting that the minister ensure this investigation is expedited and asking for assurance that if the exporters are found to be in breach of ESCAS they will be held to account.
ESCAS is set up to make sure that an Australian animal does not endure abuse like this. Yet, once again, the horrendous animal cruelty we witness shows the urgent need to review the current ESCAS system and establish the office of the Inspector General for Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports. Ahead of the 2016 federal election, Labor released a six-point strategy calling for a review of the ESCAS, including its sanctions, to ensure that it's working as effectively as it needs to be. More importantly, we called for an independent inspector general of animal welfare, who will have the authority and the responsibility for overseeing implementation of laws, investigating breaches and providing independent advice to the federal government on reforms where the need for them exists.
If we do not release publicly available information on breaches, actions taken and sanctions imposed on the mistreatment and abuse of Australian animals overseas, we will have to continue to rely on charities such as Animals Australia to be the watchdog of this multibillion dollar industry and to bring animal abuse cases to our notice. Achieving a strong animal welfare system requires strong national leadership and a willingness to make our systems transparent and strong. Australia needs a strong ESCAS system that works and that enforces strong sanctions when that framework is breached. The coalition has failed to invest, reform and care about this system. I do not want another year to go by with another allegation of animal cruelty and ESCAS failure. I call on the government to join with Labor and to implement our proposals.