The Australian Government has re-stated its support for the livestock export trade and its opposition to mandatory pre-slaughter stunning at all abattoirs where Australian livestock are slaughtered.
The position statements are contained in the Government's official response to recommendations from last year’s Senate Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into animal welfare standards in the live trade.
The committee recommended that two bills drafted by the Australian Greens and Independent MPs aimed at shutting down the live export trade should not be passed, a recommendation the Government has supported.
The Government report has also rejected recommendations contained in dissenting reports by the Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon calling for mandatory pre-slaughter stunning of Australian livestock.
“Imposing a mandatory requirement of pre-slaughter stunning for Australian livestock in overseas markets would be, prima facie, inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the World Trade Organisation and would also be unacceptable to a number of our key trading partners,” the Government report said.
“The Australian Government’s current approach under a new regulatory framework for livestock exports for feeder and slaughter purposes is to require exporters to ensure that animals are handled and slaughtered in accordance with International World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare requirements.
“The OIE does not mandate stunning of animals prior to slaughter. OIE standards cover the whole slaughter process and if followed substantially reduce welfare compromise in livestock, particularly before and during non-stun slaughter.”
It added that the Government continued to encourage the use of stunning in all livestock export trade for feeder and slaughter purposes.
The Government’s response accepted the bulk of the recommendations emanating from last year’s senate inquiry, with a handful of exceptions.
One was a recommendation that the Government provide further assistance to businesses that suffered irrevocable financial costs as a result of the temporary ban on exports to Indonesia last year.
The Government’s view is that the range of assistance measures it has already provided are sufficient.
It said that assistance provided to date has included:
- An income recovery subsidy comprising 13 weeks of income support;
- A Business Assistance Package comprising a Business Assistance Payment of $5000;
- A Business Harship Payment of up to $20,000;
- Grants of $5500 for the obtaining of financial advice;
- A Subsidised Interest Rate Scheme providing a subsidy of up to $36,000 on business loans of $300,000 over two years;
- Further measures in the form of access to rural financial counselling services, support for indigenous workers and priority assistance through Job Services Australia to employees made redundant as a result of the ban was also provided.
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