Report of the Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee into Live Exports, Wednesday 23 November 2011
Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (17:45): Unfortunately, this report does represent a lost opportunity to end the live export trade and a lost opportunity to introduce mandatory stunning. That should have been the very least that was gained out of this work. I thank both Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator Nick Xenophon for their work in initiating this inquiry. I congratulate Animals Australia and the RSPCA, and I really think that should be unanimous because from what I have heard everybody was disturbed about the animal cruelty that was witnessed. It was their work that ensured that this was exposed.
We know that the cruelty that was shown on the ABC Four Corners has not been resolved. Indonesia has no domestic animal protection laws to enforce mandatory stunning. The OIE guidelines and enforcement of standards in over 4,000 slaughter locations across Indonesia will obviously be near impossible or extremely costly to ensure that that occurs.
What is apparent is that both Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have failed to adequately monitor or improve animal welfare practices in foreign markets to which Australian animals are shipped. We really have to be clear here: it is implausible that MLA or LiveCorp were unaware of the animal welfare issues in Indonesia, including the failure of facilities where the slaughter of Australian cattle was not meeting OIE standards. The Greens agree with the committee view that the industry must review the delineation of authority and strengthen communication channels between government stakeholders and the community. Clearly, the government need to play a greater regulatory role over the industry to ensure the animal welfare standards which Australians expect should be met. It is crucial that the government take an active and hands-on role in the implementation of any traceability systems, including the auditing of such systems. This compliance and audit role cannot be left to third parties.
Ultimately, the Australian Greens believe that there is no way to implement safeguards that can guarantee the humane transport and slaughter of animals in overseas markets and so do not believe that the implementation of a traceability system will adequately protect Australian animals from cruel treatment. The need to look at how to improve and increase processing in Australia to support local producers and jobs remains a priority that the Australian Greens will pursue, and we believe should be the priority work of this parliament and this government, and should have been the outcome for this report.