11.07.2012 Shane Guthrie
The government response, released yesterday, to the Senate Inquiry into Animal Welfare Standards in Live Export will not appease public concerns about the live export trade, said MLC Lynn MacLaren, Greens spokesperson on animal welfare.
“The Federal Government has knocked back workable reforms to deal with cruelty to animals. The government rejected the Greens’ recommendations to ban live exports of animals for slaughter and to make pre-slaughter stunning mandatory.
“The government is putting too much faith in industry to do the government’s job. Palming off oversight to industry, rather than giving the power to the Chief Veterinary Officer, is a setback for animal welfare, said Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon in reply to the Government response.
“The evidence is clear that abuses against animals in Indonesian slaughterhouses were not due to individual failure or cultural differences, but instead were directly the result of systemic regulatory problems within the industry, Ms MacLaren said.
“All the evidence shows us that industry does not have the capacity to self-regulate. The welfare of animals cannot be left in the hands of industry.
“Beef slaughterhouses in Indonesia rely on unskilled workers. There is no indication that they can make the necessary improvements. Live exports must end.
“Indeed, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. Governments, state and federal, should have been helping farmers with a transition to more viable products and markets.
“Agribusiness Valuations Australia boss Sam Paton has said farms are too reliant on live exports to Indonesia. A report by Meat and Livestock Australia found average debt per unit of livestock had doubled in a decade and returns on assets had crashed to less than 2 per cent. Where’s the viability in that?
“In early 2009, the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture, Anton Apriantono announced a 2014 deadline for local beef self-sufficiency.
“Indonesia’s commitment to a self-sufficiency target has led the Indonesian government to set the maximum weight of imported live cattle at 350 kilograms, in order to facilitate value adding. Then farmers complained they had cattle too heavy for this shrinking market.
“Despite Senator Ludwig’s recent confidence that the live export trade will not diminish as further investment is made in developing Indonesia’s cattle herd, the market abroad has been changing for a long time.
“Thousands of jobs could be created by shifting to process more meat in Australia.”