Australia’s peak veterinary organisation, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), has called for urgent improvements to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System following last week’s vision of cattle being bludgeoned in Vietnamese abattoirs.
The footage was “shocking and completely unacceptable”, AVA president Dr Robert Johnson said.
“If the systems intended to protect animal welfare fail, there needs to be an urgent response,” he said.
“Any breaches of the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) need to be taken seriously, and sanctions imposed.
“We welcome the government’s announced investigation and expect appropriate, swift and effective action to be taken.
“Animal welfare standards need to be continually improving.”
The AVA has called for improvements to ESCAS as part of its 2016 federal election policy platform.
It said ESCAS should be reviewed regularly and animal welfare standards should be continuously improved over time, with the involvement of veterinarians.
“We also believe that the animals’ welfare can only be assured during their voyage with a truly independent veterinarian on every live export vessel who can report on animal health and welfare without fear or favour.
The AVA also wants the Australian government to dedicate resources to a new national framework, including the development of animal welfare standards that consumers can trust.
The AVA’s Better animal welfare, productivity and biosecurity policy platform highlights the need for the Australian government to resume its national leadership and investment in animal welfare, and better regulation of livestock export.
The AVA’s policy platform also makes recommendations about other issues that need addressing on the national agenda including:
- Increased funding for fighting antimicrobial resistance
- Better livestock disease surveillance and response by employing more veterinary staff in key animal health and biosecurity areas
- Targeted investment in higher education.
Dr Johnson said that veterinarians are uniquely qualified to ensure the safety of the food we eat, guard access to export markets, and care for those companion animals that are valued family members. However, he warns that if we are going to be able to have the right number of vets with the right skills in the right places in the future, the government needs to address this now.
“The future sustainability of the veterinary workforce is under threat. Investment in veterinary education is poorly targeted resulting in a workforce that is growing at an unsustainable rate.
“Veterinary education is one of the most expensive courses. There needs to be a commitment to prevent construction of any new veterinary school or expansion of existing facilities that are designed to enable a university to increase its intake so there’s more efficient use of government resources.
“Increases in veterinary degree student fees should also be limited, to be in line with potential earnings,” Dr Johnson said.
Source: Australian Veterinary Association