Australia launches scheme to improve live export welfare

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Animal welfare Livestock Beef Lamb

The Australian government has announced a multi-million dollar fund to improve the welfare of animals in the country’s major live export destinations.

The $1.8 million in funding will go towards seven projects led by Meat & Livestock Australia, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The projects include OIE animal welfare training in countries that import Australian livestock, training programmes for exporter supply chain assurance system (ESCAS) auditors, upgrades to existing ESCAS approved facilities in new and existing markets, translation of best-practice manuals, and workshops to educate and inform exporters about societal views on livestock production and issues around live exports.

Announcing the funds, Australia’s agriculture minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, said: “Exporters are responsible for making sure animals in their supply chains are treated in line with internationally accepted animal welfare standards and that means working with supply chains overseas to improve their practices

“To achieve these standards we need investment in Australia and overseas and this is a shared effort with industry. The seven projects announced today help ensure a bright future for our domestic industry by focusing on strengthening animal welfare outcomes in supply chains.”

Not good enough

However, animal welfare organisations in Australia have hit out against the proposals, claiming that government is using taxpayer money to pay for “live export industry PR lessons”.

Animals Australia, which has led a prolonged campaign against live exports, expressed outrage over the $63,300 to be spent on workshops for exporters, which are aimed at helping the trade maintain its ‘social licence’ to operate.

“Inconceivably, these Social Licence to Operate workshops will be administered by the Australian Live Exporters Council — the very body that viewed and deemed practices in Egyptian abattoirs to be acceptable in the same month that the routine brutal treatment of Australian cattle was documented in those very facilities,”​ it said.

The group also objected to the fact that neither it or RSPCA Australia had been consulted about the allocation about the funds, and raised concerns over the fact the animal welfare programmes had been entrusted to MLA.

“We are all for animal welfare improvements in importing countries — but MLA is the body behind the now banned Mark I slaughter boxes in Indonesia — and is the group that has publicly stated its refusal to report breaches of welfare standards in importing countries,”​ it added.

It said that the government funding would have been better spent on the establishment of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare, as proposed by the Australian Greens.

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