After two days of meetings with political stakeholders in Canberra, Meat and Livestock Australia says there are signs that Government confidence in its $9m plan to progressively re-open the live export trade with Indonesia is increasing.
A delegation of MLA representatives met with MPs and Senators from all political parties to explain its $9 million package to facilitate the reopening of trade to Indonesia with a renewed focus on animal welfare standards.
MLA managing director David Palmer said that while Australia did not have the authority to enforce laws in a foreign country, MLA can work with the commercial operators who own the cattle, and the Australian and Indonesian governments, to direct training and infrastructure resources to facilities that meet or exceed agreed animal welfare standards.
He said that through the Industry-Government Working Group on Live Animal Exports some elements of the industry plan have commenced to ensure that controlled supply chains are in place to assure the welfare of the cattle.
Specifics of the plan include:
- A requirement for Indonesian abattoirs processing Australian cattle to meet or exceed agreed international animal welfare standards in line with the World Organisation for Animal Health, backed up by an audit of import facilities to ensure compliance;
- Priority installation of additional stunning equipment – an additional four facilities have already had stunning equipment installed since the ban was announced taking the total to 11 facilities using stunning;
- Together with Indonesian authorities, the redesign and upgrade of abattoir infrastructure to better facilitate more humane processing – alternative options are now being developed based on a Temple Grandin design that will allow for both stunning and processing in the standing position;
- The urgent development of a traceability system with Indonesia to ensure that cattle are only being processed at accredited abattoirs;
- The provision of animal welfare officers to be stationed at facilities processing Australian cattle – with 30 animal welfare officers receiving training this month; and
- A renewed focus on training of Indonesian abattoir workers to ensure that they are operating in the most humane manner – with eight Australian stock handling experts having already conducted intensive training programs over the past two weeks.
Mr Palmer said that off the back of MLA’s meetings he believed there was now a sense of understanding of – and confidence in – industry’s plan.
“MLA and Australian livestock producers have put forward practical solutions which can protect a $1 billion industry, and also deliver higher animal welfare standards,” he said.
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