Live Export

Vietnam Govt backs ESCAS | AMIEU joins calls for livex ban

James Nason, 21/05/2015

The Vietnamese Government has expressed strong support for Australia’s Export Supply Chain Assurance System which is designed to protect the welfare of exported cattle, and says it will take ‘proper action’ against importers found to be not complying with the system.

At the same time the union which represents Australian meat workers has joined calls from Animals Australia, the RSPCA and the Greens for the Federal Government to ban the live export trade in the wake of the further evidence that Australian cattle have been beaten by sledgehammers in the market (more below).

It is rare for the Vietnamese Government to comment publicly on international matters but the country’s embassy in Australia released a statement this morning declaring its support for the cattle important trade and Australia’s ESCAS system.

The statement reads in full:

Viet Nam has issued many legal documents regulating the slaughtering process of livestock. To ensure the welfare of animals, the Government has set out various standards for transportation, abattoir conditions, humane slaughtering process…. In fact, livestock slaughtering establishments are under strict monitor of Veterinary Departments and agencies concerned.

As for live cattle imported from Australia, approved abattoirs in Viet Nam have been operating fully in compliance with Australian Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, as it is beneficial not only for Vietnamese consumers but also for Australian farmers.

Regarding reports in some of Australian newspapers, the Embassy has forwarded them to relevant authorities in Viet Nam for clarification, and believes that proper actions would be taken if it is a case.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott and agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce have rejected calls for Australia’s live cattle export trade to be banned, stating that the fact that sledgehammering allegations were self-reported by exporters back in March and are currently subject to investigation prior show the ESCAS process is working.

The ESCAS system also enables the Government to take punitive action against individual supply chains and not an entire market, as happened when the Gillard Government suspended Australia’s entire cattle export trade to Indonesia following footage of cattle cruelty there in June 2011.

Mr Abbott this week described the former Labor Government’s action as ‘a catastrophic decision’.

“It cost thousands of Australians their livelihoods, at least for a period. It badly damaged our relations with Indonesia, a country which is very important to us,” he said.

‘Vietnam horrors’ show livex unfixable: AMIEU

Meanwhile, the Queensland branch of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) has added its voice to calls for the live export trade to be banned.

The AMIEU has never made any secret of its opposition to the live export trade and openly displays a large “ban live export” billboard on the side of its East Brisbane headquarters.

The union’s Matt Journeaux issued a statement this morning saying that the “Vietnam horrors” showed that the live export trade was unfixable.

“We were all told that the introduction of the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was going to fix perpetual abuse of Australian livestock exported overseas,” Mr Journeaux said.

“The situation in Vietnam is but one in a long line of scandals.  The live export trade has proven itself as unfixable.

“ESCAS is simply used to politically manage these constant scandals.   A complaint is made, it takes over three months to investigate what is plainly obvious and by then live export interests are hoping the heat has come off – until the next revelation.

“Australian meat processors are the best in the world and are heavily regulated to ensure animal welfare.  They are governed by mandatory animal welfare laws and all animals must be pre-stunned prior to slaughter.

“It beggars belief that a country with such stringent animal welfare laws could turn a blind eye to the issue once Australian livestock leave our shores.

“Both Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have unreservedly supported the live export trade.

“I call on them both to explain themselves.

“Senator Joyce should stop worrying about Johnny Depp’s dogs and start getting real and deal with the genuine concerns of every Australian.”




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  1. Christine Glenn, 28/05/2015

    CONTD The goal of cattle producers and AMIEU is the same, a healthy cattle and processing industry, with high animal welfare standards. If you are constantly working with people whose end goal is to end the use of all animal products what are you going to achieve? It is not too late to take down the Billboard…

  2. Christine Glenn, 28/05/2015

    AMIEU are once again walking hand in hand with Vegans, who genuinely are concerned for welfare of meatworkers?

    Without cattle producers there are no cattle, if AMIEU were truly listening they would realise that most cattle producers would have gone under years ago if it were not for Live Export putting a base in the market, as painful as that reality is. Compare steer prices from 30-40 years ago, it is clear to see who has been wearing the effect of high processing costs and that is the producer. Australia works with countries to improve standards for slaughter (and this usually flows to all animals not just the “Australian” ones). Do not recall anyone talking shutting down the entire pork industry for one bad apple, which the video was just as appalling…

    AMIEU needs to be supportive of producers, the only way people can afford to sell locally to processors is to be also selling something with a profit margin.

  3. Jo Bloomfield, 26/05/2015

    The theory of “absorption” of all livestock turnoff in Australia is based on continuous supply of livestock all year round, under perfect circumstances including prime condition across all stock at all points of supply. All reports who propose this actually indicated that producers will be the losers as to costs of production if live export was stopped, even the WSPA report based their findings on perfect seasonal conditions with the supply of stock based on no change in base herd composition even though stock are held for much longer and to assumed heavier weights. Carrying capacities were not even considering in real property terms. None of those producer operational costs were accounted for only the end product value with a maximum gross return to the producer of $1.40/kg to enable the processor to make money after they endure costs of production and freight, assuming markets are available. Add to that increasing abattoirs actually demonised some of the supply to other abattoirs. read SE QLD feasibility report Jan 2015. Livestock production is often seasonally based and continuous supply of stock would mean the producer would be forced to feed stock until kill space was available, again never accounted for, particularly in regards to WA sheep processing capabilities. Current cattle processing is reliant on 30% feedlot supplies, if Live export was stopped feedlot capacity would have to increase expotentionally and who has the feed product or infrastructure for that, again assumes our cattle are suited and markets are available for the end product. As usual the unions and supporters of live export ban have no idea what FINANICAL VIABILITY actually means. The use of sledgehammers to pole axe cattle isn’t acceptable and absolutely no-one is saying it is. Excellent animal welfare practices are conducted in the many varied supply chains of Australian animals through Vietnam lines.

  4. Edgar Burnett, 25/05/2015

    Katrina, as a general rule, Australian Cattle Producers have been struggling to make profits for years now due to the Multinational Beef Processors not paying a decent price for their cattle.To protect the viability of their operations, they sell to the highest bidder – it is called “the market”. If you think that they should sell to the Processors just so that the jobs stay in Australia, you are being unreasonable.
    It is fast becoming recognized that the living and business operating costs in Australia are a joke compared with world standards. If you want something real to do, do something about that.

  5. Katrina Love, 24/05/2015

    Bryan – the Australian chilled meat industry is already worth about six times that of the live trade – the Middle East chilled trade alone is worth the same as the entire live export industry.

    Every country we currently export live animals to (with the exception of Turkey) already imports chilled beef and/or sheep meat from Australia, much of it Halal – STUNNED and slaughtered IN Australia, under Australian law, to Australian standards by Australian workers – keeping jobs, profits and value-adding in Australia, but more importantly, sparing animals from long sea voyages (5 to 41 days depending on destination, weather and problems) and fully conscious slaughter – currently 70% of animals exported live from Australia will have their throats cut whilst fully conscious.

    No one who supports the industry has yet been able to explain to me how an industry worth $7billion can’t absorb an industry worth $1.2 billion when abattoirs are saying they can handle the volume. It’s problematic for northern Austraklian producers who typiclly supply to countries who want feeder cattle so they can employ their own countrymen and increase the economical benefit, but economics, whether for us or for “them” should never and MUST never come before animal welfare.

  6. Edgar Burnett, 24/05/2015

    Well it is quite simple Mr Journeaux – advice your “Australian Meat Processors” who you claim are “the best in the world” that you and your like are prepared to cut your pay and conditions and assist these Companies to cut their processing costs to global levels.
    Then they will be able to pay Producers a price that is equivalent to what the Live Cattle Exporters are paying. Most Australian producers would then sell to the Australian Processors and your problem is solved. The current level of processing costs in Australia are so high on global standards that they are a joke! The ball is in your court.

  7. Bryan Martin, 21/05/2015

    These are stories are far to common yet there would be more you don’t hear about yet we have a trade. That could quite simply evolve creating larger slaughter houses in this country with cameras vacuumed sealed frozen sent to whatever country

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