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.”