Live Export

RSPCA campaigns to point election spotlight onto live exports

Beef Central, 29/03/2016


The RSPCA is moving to make livestock exports a central focus of the forthcoming Federal Election campaign.

The group last week identified three animal welfare priorities it wants the next Australian Government to tackle.

It wants the next Government to dedicate resources to a new national animal welfare framework; to work with industry to expand the share of Australia’s export trade represented by chilled and frozen meat, and reduce that represented by live exports; and to ensure no cosmetics sold or made in Australia have been tested on animals.

The RSPCA’s public campaign has been criticised by Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan, who said the group should dedicate more resources to tackling the rising number of domestic animal cruelty cases in Australia, rather than politicising and incriminating Australia’s livestock export trade.

In launched the RSPCA’s federal election priorities, chair Gary Humphries said federal leadership was critical to ensure continuous improvement, coordination and consistency in animal welfare standards.

He said Australia recently received an unacceptable ‘C’grade in the international Animal Protection Index which ranked countries according to their legislation and policy commitments to protect animals.

“We should be better than this,” Mr Humphries said.

“RSPCA Australia is strongly opposed to the live export industry because of the cruel treatment of animals on ships and in slaughterhouses overseas. Valued at an average $901 million, it represents a small proportion of our meat exports, which are valued at over $6 billion.

“RSPCA’s election policies are a direct result of the issues Australians talk to us about, and it would be wise for candidates to listen to them.”

RSPCA should focus on its own backyard: O’Sullivan

Senator Barry O’Sullivan - Queensland

Senator Barry O’Sullivan – Queensland

Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan said the RSPCA’s election announcement ignored the success of the world-leading Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) and would ultimately only further jeopardise the financial viability of thousands of North Australian businesses.

Senator O’Sullivan said the RSPCA’s campaign purposely overlooked the serious animal welfare concerns in its own backyard.

Instead of demanding changes to the successful ESCAS program, Senator O’Sullivan said the RSPCA should focus its energies on investigating the cause of the rising number of reports of animal cruelty against domestic pets and native wildlife across Australia.

“By the RSPCA’s own figures, it has investigated 221,222 complaints of animal cruelty against domestic animals and native wildlife since ESCAS commenced in 2011,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“Between 2012-13 and 2014-16, the number of these complaints rose by more than 20 per cent. This is an alarming spike that the RSPCA should be investigating.”

Senator O’Sullivan said the live export trade had comparatively few animal welfare complaints in comparison.

“Between 2011 and 2015, Australia exported 14.6 million head of livestock in more than 1200 consignments,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“In that time there has only been 89 complaints of potential breaches of the ESCAS system, many of which were reported by the live export industry.

“It’s clear the ESCAS system is leading the world in the push to improve animal welfare standards.”

Senator O’Sullivan said the live export supply chain absorbed the cost to administer ESCAS, which is estimated to be between $50 and $100 per head, in order to ensure there were world-leading animal welfare practices in place.

“We know that all that would be achieved by banning Australian livestock exports is that animal welfare standards in the markets previously serviced by Australia would worsen,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“We know that our live export markets have an expressed desire for freshly slaughtered meat. Australia cannot expect to prescribe market tastes in other countries.

“The live export industry is proving that ESCAS is working and now is not the time to tinker with a winning formula.

“There are serious cruelty issues closer to home that the RSPCA should be focussed on.”


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  1. Jacqueline Weedman, 31/03/2016

    I applaude the RSPCA in its opposition to the live export industry of Australian livestock. They are doing exactly what they should be doing, protecting the welfare of Australian animals.

  2. Jo Bloomfield, 31/03/2016

    At the 2016 LE conference in Darwin the OIE CEO expressed his opinion Australian LE standards were very good, the CEO of one of Brazil’s largest meat processors and LE exporters spoke about the high standards that Australia has attained in LE welfare that others can only aspire too. RSPCA were part of the the LE oversight groups before 2011 that looked at animal welfare, problems and ways to improve it. RSPCA then jumped into bed with the animal liberationists Animals Australia, who’s idealogy is to stop LE. Australian exporters and those who work in the facilities overseas of discharge, feedlots and abattoirs have made magnificant gains in animal welfare in handling, accountability, transparency, reporting and continual improvement before and after 2011. The Shipping industries were already of high standards pre 2011 yet have not stopped trying to improve their methods of handling and stock management in pre export, vetting and management. All these improvements are applauded and supported by the suppliers of LE, the producers like myself. If RSPCA want to be part of the LE process rather than a hinderance to implementing improvement then 1. they need to reassess their stand against LE, which isn’t going to stop and 2, give realistic acknowledgement that closure or reduction in LE will negatively impact producers. LE is increasingly becoming a dominant factor in the Australian meat industry. RSPCA need to climb down from their ivory tower of unrealistic expectations of economic survival on singular Australian meat processing capabilities. This is now a global market enterprise supply chain. As producers we must have as many competitive market forces as possible it is the only way we can receive fair value for stock, this includes all Australian meat processors and LE capabilities. We must strive to retain and improve these markets. In respect to animal welfare management and our aims must attainable, economical and actually able to be efficently and effectively implemented, including affordable. If RSPCA want to be part of real animal welfare improvements then they need to work with us not against. If they want to be nothing but spectators watching as the industry forges ahead with improvements inspite of them then they (RSPCA) should continue on the animal liberationist path they have chosen. I used to support RSPCA, I wonder how many other producers like myself now wouldn’t give them a single cent because I don’t see RSPCA as real animal welfare advocates anymore.

  3. Anthea Henwood, 30/03/2016

    If RSPCA were serious about animal welfare, they would be visiting remote communities and attempting to deal with the animal cruelty and neglect in their own backyard first.
    But that might might not make politically correct good headlines.

  4. Loretta Carroll, 29/03/2016

    The live export market has greatly assisted my business enabling me to sell cattle from 220 kg for higher $ returns than offered locally and selling earlier has had the added benefit of more pasture for breeders. So from my experience I suspect the export market has saved many young cattle from being carried through drought conditions and potentially facing risk of some form of starvation. Maybe the RSPCA could look at the positive impacts of live export on animal welfare across Australia – protecting large numbers of livestock from being impacted from severe drought.

  5. Bruce Collins, 29/03/2016

    RSPCA Chair, Gary Humphries is clearly just parroting the same hackneyed, old statements about cruel treatment with absolutely no evidence to back it up. As Indonesia’s economy develops and the standard of living improves, its people may well demand a higher proportion of chilled and frozen beef, but at the moment the want to buy from the wet market. A good supplier meets his customer’s demands and if we cannot do it, Brazil will be happy to oblige..

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