Livestock Export Review

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Last updated: 11 Aug 2011

Carol and Stuart Ross

I provide my submission in support of the continuation of the Australian livestock export industry.

In providing this submission I refer directly to the Terms of Reference that cover a range of issues surrounding the live export industry that the independent review will examine and my opinion is set out below:–

  1. the facilities, treatment, handling and slaughter of livestock, exported from Australia, in the importing country for consistency with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recommendations and standards set out in Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2010) published by the World Organisation for Animal Health and other relevant standards

    Australia could take a much greater role in the education and encouragement of better stock handling procedures and more humane handling of animals at the point of slaughter. Better handling and stunning facilities should strongly encouraged in implemented.

    OIE could and should raise their standards .

  2. the adequacy of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) as they apply to the preparation and export of all livestock with consideration of responsibilities for compliance and enforcement of the ASEL

    Independent experts rates Australia as having the highest standards for the transportation of animals internationally. The mortality rates is in most cases below 1%. No doubt there still further improvements to be made and better design of ships and equipment could be investigated.

  3. the adequacy and effectiveness of current Australian regulatory arrangements for the live export trade

    Australian standards lead the the world but there is always room for improvement. More attention could be given to refuting some of the spurious allegations made about the live x industry.

  4. the types of livestock suitable (weight, age, body condition, breeds) for export as feeder or slaughter animals

    In relation to the Indonesian market our Bhramin breed cattle are particularly suited to the climate and condidions. Other breed are exported to other countries depending on their requiremenys, such a dairy cattle or cattle for breeding purposes. The cattle requirement for Indonesia has a live weight of 350KG which makes the type of cattle produced in WA and the NT ideally suited for that trade. If those cattle are not sold into Indonesia they have to be transported to the south for feed on purposes, into feed lots to meet the required weight for local abbottoirs. Currently local abbottoirs are mostly working to capacity and would find it difficult to take in the overflow of numbers from the NT or WA.

    Over the years Australia has become very proficient in supplying the Indonesians with the absolutely right type of cattle to put into their feed lots and then into their abbttoirs.

  5. the extent of monitoring required for each export consignment of feeder or slaughter livestock, in a manner that ensures accurate and transparent reporting to the Australian Government of the condition of the livestock from departure from Australia up to and including the point of slaughter in the country of destination

    Yes, the NLIS tag system would go a long way in keeping track of cattle from their home paddock to the point of slaughter, just as it is done in Australia. On board ship there are strict protocols for the monitoring and care of cattle during transit and this is supervised by experienced stockmen and women and on longer voyages by a vetinerary officer. There have been vast improvements in the feeding and watering of cattle and there are strict guidelines for the amount of space allotted to each beast. Pens on board ship are an absolute requirement for safety reasons, both for the cattle themselves and the overall safety of the ship and its crew.

    It is in everyones best inerest to maximise the care and attention to all animals.

  6. the risk management strategies necessary to address the welfare of animals from departure from Australia, up to and including the point of slaughter in the country of destination

    The mortality rates on animals in the live ex market suggest and have been proven to be the highest in the world, however, all effort should be made to maintain and even improve current standards. We have to be mindful that we can only encourage and provide education and tools to help raise the standards of slaughter in our tranding partners countries.

  7. other matters relevant to these terms of reference that the reviewer considers appropriate.

    It has been extremely dismaying to us that s programme such as Four Corners which in the past has enjoyed a reputation for fair and unbiased reporting to have put their name to what what was at best a distortion of the facts , and allowed the programme to be manipulated by a small group of activists, with the only real aim was to produce a sensational programme. Little effort to balance the facts and it has even been suggested that some of the footage was old and seen some years in the past! The activists did little to raise the level of welfare in Indonesia.

    The present Government in their haste to placate the activist lobby handed the Indonesian Government and its peoples a gross insult which will not go un remarked by other trading partners.

    There was a total lack of thought or sympathy towards the men and women of the industry and the ancilliory industries to the their fate and future.

    Most cattle producers in Australia are responsible carers for their animals – it is in their best interest to nuture the product which gives them their living and to produce the best product possible. By education and practical hands on schools and seminars animal handling techniques have improved immeasurably during our time in the industry. We take great pride in our herd of cattle and have continued the raise the standard of our herd over the years . There is no advantage in bad animal practices. At the same time transport practices both on land and sea have improved hugely, - sick or injured animals are a detriment to the industry. Most producers spend time and money investing in the welfare of their animals, and have encouraged MLA to do the same in the coutries where our animals are sold. Doubtless there is always room for improvement as we raise the standards to a higher level. The whole oindustry should rise to the challenge of better standards bother here and in the countries of our trading partners.

    It behoves us al to pay respect to cultural and religous practices in our trading partners coutries.

    Argument has been put forward to enbcourage the export of boxed and chiller meats , a good point, however, it must be noted that in a country such as Indonesia that electricity is non existant and a luxury to the majority of its peoples so refigreration is simply not an option. It is the custom for the women to shop each day for their meats and vegetables and it is desirable to purchses wam meat as a proof that it has been slaughtered during the previous night and butchered accordingly, hence the huge importance of selling live cattle into Indonesia. The proposed new protocols and standards which will narrow the number of abbotoirs to those who follow the correct procedures and the use of the stunning procedures will most likely encourage other smaller abbottoirs to introduce those methods in their plants.

    In conclusion - the Four Corners programme was shocking and a wake up call both to Australia and Indonesia , however, the handling in the aftermath was extremly poorly handled by our Government to our shame and to the distress of cattle producers who have had their livlihoods virtually taken from beneath their feet. the road back will be long and hard and we have to ask ourselves do we have a Government who really cares for the welfare of its own peoples here in Australia.

    Animal welfare is very important -

    People welfare is a priority!!

    If you look after the people properly they in turn will do the right thing by their stock.

Stuart and Carol Ross

13 July 2011