Live Export

Accusations fly over new ESCAS reports

Beef Central, 24/02/2015

The Department of Agriculture and the RSPCA are at odds over the significance of changes made by the department to how breaches of Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) are reported.

Since the introduction of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System in 2011, the department has published a separate report on its website explaining the outcomes of each of its finalised investigations into allegations of ESCAS breaches.

However, in changes introduced last week, the department says it will now produce one report covering the outcomes of all investigations finalised during a set period, and plans to release the new reports twice a year.

The department says the new regulatory performance reports will include summaries of any investigations that have been finalised during that period into substantiated allegations or incidents of non-compliance.

The reports will also include a statistical overview of the performance of ESCAS in each market, as included in the first new report which was released last week for the period of January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.

The advantage of the new reporting style, according to the department, is that it allows readers to gain a snapshot of how ESCAS is performing in each of Australia’s livestock export markets in achieving international animal welfare standards for exported Australian livestock.

Govt attempting to mislead public: RSPCA

However the change has not been well received by the RSPCA, which claims it is a ploy by the Government to mislead the Australian public by “stripping bare” its reports into ESCAS breaches.

The department’s previous reports were far more comprehensive, the RSPCA says, and included details such as how investigations were conducted, investigation findings, assessments of evidence and information provided by both the complainant and the export companies involved, the regulatory action taken by the Government, and the report conclusions.

The RSCPA says the new style ESCAS regulatory performance report released last week contains an “absolute minimum of detail”.

“The latest ESCAS investigation reports have been drained of all meaningful information and this new format is clearly intended to present the live export industry in the best possible light,” said Dr Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist, in a media release issued yesterday.

“The RSPCA cannot be confident that any supply chain is ‘incident-free’ when all animals are not accurately traceable to the exporter and we are reliant on animal protection organisations to bring serious breaches to light. The likelihood is that these incidents are only the tip of the iceberg.

“ESCAS was promised as a system that would deliver transparency to the public about the treatment of Australian animals exported live for slaughter and yet these reports seem to sweep critical information under the rug.

“This new style of releasing information to the public highlights the fundamental conflict between the Government’s dual roles as regulator and promoter of the live export industry.

“The Australian community has made it clear they won’t have the wool pulled over their eyes when it comes to the treatment of Australian animals overseas and the Government would be foolish to think otherwise.”

Reports provide broader trade context: DA

In response to the RSPCA’s concerns, a statement provided by the department to Beef Central said the new reporting gives “a more holistic context” to reported allegations or incidents.

“In the 2014 calendar year Australia exported livestock to 18 countries. Importantly there were no allegations or incidents of non-compliance reported in 10 of these markets,” the spokesperson said.

The new reporting approach allowed readers to gain a snapshot of how ESCAS is performing in each of Australia’s livestock export markets in achieving international animal welfare standards for exported Australian livestock.

Regulatory performance assessment processes have not changed, the statement said.

“We have not changed the way reviews and investigations are conducted.

“The only change is the way we report the findings of our reviews and investigations.

“Real-time monitoring and actions taken to control market risks remain in place. At any time, we can and do apply additional conditions or amend ESCAS supply chains to help manage possible incidents involving animal welfare concerns.”

The statement said the department intended to publish the new reports at least twice a year, “offering stakeholders some consistency and frequency in publishing livestock regulatory performance information”.


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  1. Trish Brown, 25/02/2015

    Bidda Jones, RSPCA has hit the nail on the head and it’s very obvious that DAFF is on the side of this Industry and ESCAS is NOT WORKING!

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