Live Export

ABC airs new Animals Australia footage of cruelty in Middle East

James Nason, October 23, 2014

Australia’s livestock export industry has again been forced to defend its animal welfare procedures after ABC Lateline last night broadcast video images filmed by Animals Australia of cruelty to Australian livestock in Kuwait, Jordan and Gaza.

The footage shows a bull tied to a pole being repeatedly stabbed in the neck, another slaughtered on the back of a truck, stretched out on a rope, and Merino sheep outside abattoirs approved for Australian livestock being thrown into wheelbarrows or pushed into car boots before being taken away.

The images were filmed earlier this month during the Islamic festival of sacrifice known as Eid al-Adha where animals are slaughtered and meat is given to the poor.

Animals Australia spokesperson Lyn White told the program that the bulls have been identified as Australian by their ear tags, which traced them to exporter Livestock Shipping Services in Perth.

However she said that ear tags had been removed from the sheep so their source could not be identified.

“It’s akin to wiping away fingerprints from a crime scene because they know that without being able to identify animals back to a particular exporter, it completely undermines the regulatory system,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said a review of ESCAS is due to be released shortly, and the Minister of Agriculture did not want to pre-empt the report.

Both Australian Livestock Exporters Council and Livestock Shipping Services declined to be interviewed by the program but they released detailed statements to media which appear below.

Lyn White told the program that evidence of mishandling of Australian livestock had been reported in same markets over the past 18 months however no charges had been laid or prosecutions launched against any export company.

“In animal welfare terms, it is atrocities and these animals should never have ever been in a position to be subjected to this treatment,” Ms White told the program.

Australian Livestock Exporters Council statement in response to the Lateline program:

Statement from Alison Penfold

Chief Executive Officer
Australian Livestock Exporters Council

Leakage from approved supply chains remains the greatest challenge for industry in meeting its responsibilities for exported livestock. It has largely stemmed from the strong demand for healthy Australian livestock that have been reduced in number due to the imposition of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

While ESCAS has significantly assisted in improving welfare of Australian exported livestock it has come with consequences, including the denial of supply of Australian livestock to many legitimate small local businesses in destination markets – particularly in the middle east – that had previously relied on trading Australian livestock for their living. Such action has in some instances created a black market for Australian livestock which we are actively working to curb.

Exporters have not sanctioned or approved leakage from supply chains but under ESCAS are responsible for such non-compliances.

Where non-compliances are found the Department of Agriculture has taken action against exporters including adding additional conditions to shipments and curtailing supply chains. Exporters themselves have removed facilities from supply chains that have failed to meet the exacting standards of ESCAS ¡V this includes failing to secure livestock within approved facilities.

While the relative number of livestock that have leaked from supply chains is relatively small against the millions of animals that have been exported into approved supply chains where handling and slaughter is done by trained personnel with appropriate knowledge and oversight of humane handling and slaughter procedures, it is the outcome of the leakage from outcome approved systems that is often most severe and upsetting and reminds us why Australia has moved to establish welfare assurance along supply chains in overseas markets.

In the absence of oversight and the training and support that comes with approved supply chains, livestock will most likely face poor treatment, handling and slaughter by people unskilled and untrained to undertake the task. In this regard, the manner in which some people treat livestock so cruelly and cause unnecessary pain and suffering, regardless of the origin of the animals, remains inexcusable, even in the absence of proper training and knowledge of appropriate handling.

Such brutal treatment has no place in the livestock trade and is perpetrated by individuals outside of Australian supply chains that are not approved to handle or slaughter Australian livestock. It remains shocking for all to see and necessitates urgent action by local authorities and the OIE to immediately improve the welfare of livestock globally. Industry recognises that the leakage of Australian livestock from approved supply chains which leads to poor handling and reflects poorly on our industry and cause members of the public to question our commitment to animal welfare. We still remain the only live export country with a welfare assurance system that places the exporter as responsible for livestock through to the point of slaughter.

While ESCAS is at times imperfect, in the main it is working and we are striving to root out those elements that undermine the effectiveness of the system.

Livestock Shipping Services response to Lateline program:

MEDIA RELEASE

20 October 2014
MEDIA STATEMENT
SUPPLY CHAIN IN GAZA

[From Mr Ahmad Ghosheh, Managing Director, Livestock Shipping Services]

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) is aware of allegations around a possible supply chain breach in Gaza during the recent Islamic religious festival, Eid al-Adha.

LSS takes these allegations very seriously and does not tolerate the mistreatment of animals in any way. LSS is focused on the welfare of all livestock that it exports and is committed to supporting the ESCAS principles as a framework within which it can work closely with importers, customers and the industry to make improvements to the way livestock are transported and handled around the world.

LSS has been working closely with the Department of Agricultures (DoA) over the past 11 months to identify and resolve issues within the LSS supply chain in Gaza.

LSS formally advised DoA on 5 November 2013 that the company had concerns relating to the supply chain in Gaza. Following this, the company immediately took a number of steps to deal with the possible issues. This included:

  • Self-reporting of the problems within the supply chain in Gaza to DoA;
  • Immediate voluntary suspension of exports to specific facilities;
  • Commencement of a detailed internal investigation into the supply chain in Gaza;
  • Ongoing efforts to manage and reconcile the livestock numbers remaining on hand in the supply chain;
  • Commencement of remedial work at the Gaza abattoir and review of the restraint box and processes to improve slaughter outcomes;
  • Instruction to the importer that no cattle were to be slaughtered at the Gaza municipal abattoir until remedial works were complete and approval by DoA was obtained to proceed and per DoA advice the importer was notified that no cattle supplied by LSS were to cross the border from Israel to Gaza; and
  • Deployment of additional consultants and staff to the region by LSS to monitor compliance at ESCAS approved facilities.

The last shipment of livestock directly to Gaza was in mid-October 2013 and LSS cattle continued to be legitimately transferred from Israel to Gaza until a direction by DoA was issued to suspend further transfer of cattle on 6 March 2014.

Consequently, a significant number of cattle have remained in the supply chain since this time.

LSS has been advised by its importer that as of 10 October 2014 there are no remaining LSS cattle in the Gaza supply chain facilities.

It has been a priority of LSS to humanely process the remaining Australian (LSS) cattle in the supply chain in Gaza and it has made every effort to facilitate this. However, the extremely volatile and dangerous working environment, coupled with the difficulties around entry into Gaza has made this extremely challenging.

In addition to this, further challenges have included the partial destruction of livestock facilities during the recent conflict with Israel, and a black market campaign to reuse Australian cattle ear tags in order to improve market value of non-Australian livestock.

Until these issues are resolved and the supply chain can be assured, LSS will continue its voluntary suspension of exports to Gaza.

LSS is committed to supporting the ESCAS principles and will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture around investigations relating to a breakdown in the supply chain in Gaza and improving animal welfare outcomes for its livestock in its destination markets.

LSS is committed to supporting the ESCAS principles and will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture around investigations relating to a breakdown in the supply chain in Gaza and improving animal welfare outcomes for its livestock in its destination markets.

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