DEPARTMENTAL STATEMENT: Reports concerning treatment of Australian animals during Eid – Lateline

​​​Eid Al-Adha is a high risk period for non-compliance with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements. 

Eid is one of the most important days on the Islamic calendar and is a time where animals are slaughtered and the meat shared with family, friends and those in need. It is a time when private sale of Australian livestock at locations outside approved facilities is more likely.

Since Eid began, on 4 October 2014, and 21 October 2014 the Department of Agriculture has received 10 reports of non-compliance with ESCAS requirements.

Six reports are from exporters, most of which concern the movement of livestock outside approved facilities. The markets include Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Four reports have been received from third parties. These four reports involve three livestock markets: Jordan, Kuwait, and Gaza as well as reports that Australian sheep are available for private sale in Saudi Arabia, not currently a market for Australian livestock. These reports concern movement of livestock outside approved facilities, as well as animal handling and transport matters.

The department assesses reports of non-compliance and investigations are undertaken where necessary.

Performance of the regulatory system

Ensuring the welfare of Australian animals that are exported continues to be a key issue for the Australian Government. Through ESCAS we continue to ensure that Australian livestock exported for feeder and slaughter purposes are handled and slaughtered in accordance with international standards.

Australia has arguably the strictest system in the world to ensure our exported sheep and cattle are treated as humanely as possible. We are the only one of 100 countries that export livestock that seeks to ensure international animal welfare standards are met throughout the entire supply chain.

ESCAS requires exporters to only trade with importers that can achieve international animal welfare standards. Exporters must make arrangements with their importer to keep animals in the supply chain and deliver good animal welfare.

The regulatory system isn’t about shutting down the trade; it’s about improving animal welfare outcomes while maintaining trade.
In 2013-14 more than three million head of livestock were exported from Australia, valued at $1.2 billion. More than two million of these were destined for the Middle East.

Gaza animal welfare report

The report regarding the treatment of cattle in Gaza includes some graphic and upsetting images. No-one supports animal cruelty, least of all Australian farmers and exporters.

The Department of Agriculture is investigating the report and will publish its findings, along with any actions taken.

Performance of individual exporters

All exporters are assessed in the same way, with the department taking all relevant information into consideration when deciding whether or not to approve applications to export or apply additional conditions. This includes an exporter’s compliance history and any matters that are under review.

On top of this, export legislation provides a number of regulatory actions that can be taken in response to confirmed non-compliance with ESCAS. For example, since September 2012 the department has required seven separate exporters to provide information and demonstrate why their export licence should not be suspended or cancelled.

Investigations into ESCAS compliance matters help identify weaknesses in an exporter’s supply chain. The current system provides us with an investigations process and requires that exporters address problems in their supply chains as they arise, to minimise the disruption to trade and to improve animal welfare outcomes.​​​