Live Export

‘Australian’ Friesians in Gaza evidence of eartag black market: Chris Back

James Nason, 24/10/2014
Non Australian cattle with  apparent Australian ear tags in Gaza.

Non Australian cattle with apparent Australian ear tags in Gaza.

This picture, recently taken in Gaza, provides definitive evidence of a black market in illegal Australian eartags in the Middle East, according to WA Liberal Senator Chris Back.

The yellow eartags suggest the cattle originate from Australia, but their breed does not.

Australia does not export Friesian cattle to the Middle East, the Senator says, and therein lies the rub.

Senator Back said he first became aware of evidence last year, but had no photographic proof, that cattle had been sighted in Gaza carrying Australian ear tags, despite being clearly not of Australian origin.

Traces had shown their tags had previously belonged to Australian animals that were slaughtered in approved abattoirs in Israel several weeks before the tags were sighted on the non-Australian cattle in Gaza.

Senator Back said the picture above, given to him by exporter Livestock Shipping Services, provides evidence that some vendors are illegally recycling Australian ear tags to increase the selling price of non-Australian cattle in countries such as Gaza.

Australian cattle typically sell at a premium to other cattle in the Middle East, providing an incentive for the use of illegally-procured Australian tags to increase the sale price of local cattle.

“(This picture) is the first definitive proof, if we need it, that tags are being taken from the ears of animals, no doubt in approved facilities,” Senator Back said.

“They are being taken across the border from Jordan or Israel into Gaza and or anywhere else for that matter, and being put into the ears of local cattle or cattle from other countries, because you get the pretence that they’re Australian, and there is a premium.”

Senator Back said that while the trade is not necessarily large or significant, it challenges the position put forward by Animals Australia that tags are being removed from Australian cattle in the Middle East to remove proof of their origin.

In an ABC Lateline interview aired on Wednesday night Animals Australia spokesperson Lyn White said the removal of ear tags from Australian sheep and cattle in the Middle East was “akin to wiping fingerprints away from a crime scene”.

“They know that without being able to identify animals back to a particular exporter, it completely undermines the regulatory system,” she said.

Senator Back said evidence of the trade in illegally procured tags and tags from previously slaughtered cattle disproved Animals Australia’s view as to why ear tags were being removed.

Animals Australia communication manager Lisa Chalk said the Senator was acting as a “willing puppet of the live export trade” and assisting to cover up its failings.

“There is no black market in ear tags in Gaza – that is utter rubbish,” she said.

“We have three local investigators on the ground there. All of the cattle in the complaint are identifiably Australian through ear notchings unique to Australia.

“Prior to submitting the complaint to the Department every video was scrutinised by an experienced Australian cattle producer who confirmed the origin of the cattle as Australian and identified directly many of the properties of origin.

“Through ear notching we have identified 14 properties in WA where these bulls brutalised in Gaza originated from. We have provided DA with this information.

“Animals Australia will be writing to these property owners and supplying them with evidence of what happened to their animals so that they can make informed decisions about the supply of their animals in the future.”

Ms Chalk said Animals Australia has lodged four complaints with the Department of Agriculture (DA) about Australian cattle continuing to be trucked over the border from Israel into Gaza, in contravention of the government order that Australian livestock do not enter the country.

“We have also provided DA with Israeli government documents showing that 2837 Australian cattle have been trucked from Israel into Gaza over past months.

“So DA has known since June this year that there are Australian cattle in Gaza and that they arrived after the government order was put in place suspending supply of live animals to the region.

“The cattle our investigators filmed in Gaza earlier this month not only had ear notching unique to Australia but their ear tags said LSS. “

Senator Back said evidence that had come back from the recent Festival of Eid showed that Australia’s ongoing efforts to improve welfare standards was leading to the better treatment of non-Australian livestock in the market.

“Not only were Australian sheep being slaughtered through the normal process, we know that locally bred and sheep purchased from other vendors, people were bringing their sheep to approved facilities, getting a tag or chit, and following their animals through and taking it home as a carcase.

“So it is evidence that Australian led animal welfare standards are working.

“Was there some leakage? Probably.

“People would say the leakage is getting less and less all the time.

“Do we have failures of systems in Australia? You bet we do.

“But the fact that insisting or demanding that an industry be closed up because of some apparent failure is just simple nonsense.”






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  1. Jack Webber, 27/10/2014

    Your so right Eddie. talk about terrorism, we have a greater danger within our own land, with all the lies, fabrications and innuendo pushed by these so called Animal Rights Groups. Certainly animal cruelty should not be tolerated, but these people will go to any lengths to achieve their agenda.If they are serious about the cruel treatment go to these countries, address the matter with their authorities. Well done Senator Back for providing some truth into the matter.

  2. Raelene Govett, 25/10/2014

    Nice try Senator Back, but no cigar. Well said Lisa Chalk. Seriously, Senator Back must think the public are stupid but he is wrong because we stopped listening to him, and his attempts to down play the horrors exposed within this trade, a long time ago. If he wants to help his mates within this trade he’d be better off staying quiet.

  3. Trish Brown, 24/10/2014

    The post by Eddie Johns is typical of the ignorance blind support for the live trade and the damning of non-profit animal welfare investigation organisations such as Animals Australia
    As for some of Senator Backs comments well of course he is going to wave the flag for the exporters and the live trade because one of his relatives is very much involved in this industry.
    Need I say more???

  4. Eddie Johns, 24/10/2014

    If I have learnt one thing, there are always two sides to every story and this article just proves so, well down Senator Back for bringing some balance back to a highly contrived argument.

    On the back of the recent Animals Australia Lateline Story (22/10/14), the ABC just continues to sensationalise a situation livestock exporters are doing their damnest to rid overseas markets of.
    It is well acknowledged this type of animal cruelty cannot be tolerated but at the same time the human suffering going on in the same region is infinitely worse and who cares ?

    Lateline, 7.30 Report, 60 Minutes and the activists are all the same – filming live export issues for money grabbing, politically motivated media stunts. This type of action and doing nothing about it makes them all part of the problem not part of the solution.

    As a result of these insane antics these people / groups / media have become commercial terrorists.

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