Dear Senator/Member of Parliament
I support the Australian livestock export industry and the thousands of families, farmers, stockmen, and truckies who rely on it for their livelihoods.
Recent images of two incidents in Egypt, one involving the vicious, cruel and clumsy emergency slaughter of an injured animal and the other showing appalling practices during the slaughter process, are abhorrent and completely unacceptable. I care for animals and what I have seen has sickened and angered me.
I understand that some people passionately believe the only solution is to stop
Australian live export. But if animal welfare is our goal, then Australia’s withdrawal from livestock export is not the answer: that would mean weaker global welfare standards for exported livestock. And we must not forget about the thousands of jobs the livestock export sector provides across rural Australia.
As a supporter of the trade, I know the industry is committed to animal welfare.
That is why I support the decision of the Australian livestock sector to incorporate Egypt into the umbrella of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance
System (ESCAS). I believe this is the right move. I have greater confidence that
ESCAS provides better oversight and better animal welfare outcomes for the livestock that we send to market. ESCAS is providing continuous improvements in animal care through improvements in facilities across our markets in Asia and the Middle East and industry investment in training, education and infrastructure. I heard the industry say the other day that since September 2011, over 1700 Indonesian feedlot and abattoir workers have been trained in international standard animal handling and slaughter practices. This helps to change behaviours towards livestock for the better.
I wish to share with you a couple of very important facts about the livestock export industry because livestock exports have a significant and important future not only for producers in Australia, but in continuing to meet the demand for food around the world.
Fact: If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, animal welfare conditions in overseas countries would decline.
Australia is the only country in the world that actively works in overseas markets to improve animal welfare conditions. We are also the only country in the world that attempts to regulate livestock exports, all the way from Australian farms to feedlots and abattoirs overseas. Our producer levy funds millions of dollars worth of training, education, research and development to improve animal welfare conditions during voyages and in overseas markets. If we were to stop exporting livestock, animal welfare conditions overseas would decline.
Fact: Boxed and chilled meat exports cannot replace livestock exports.
Many countries prefer live animals over boxed or chilled meat. This is often due to the challenge of transporting, storing and refrigerating meat, or due to cultural, religious and financial reasons. If Australia was to stop exporting live animals, the gap would not be filled by Australian chilled or boxed meat, but rather from live animals from other countries. In 2007, for instance, Australia could not meet the Middle East's demand for live animals, so animals were imported from Sudan, Somalia and Iran - countries that do not share Australia's commitment to animal welfare, and critically, may also pose animal disease risks.
Boxed and chilled meat exports cannot replace livestock exports.
Fact: The livestock export industry supports thousands of Australian jobs & is helping to provide protein to some of the world's poorest people.
The Australian livestock export industry provides 13,000 jobs, including 11,000 in rural areas, to Australian workers and in some parts of Australia, is the entire backbone of the community and economy. The supply of Australian livestock also ensures hundreds of thousands of households across Asia and the Middle
East have access to essential and affordable protein.
Most of the countries that take our livestock do not have the resources or geography to efficiently produce livestock to feed their people, and Australia is able to meet this demand through livestock exports. The Federal Government has just released its Asian Century White Paper, which shows Australia has an important role to play in providing food to Asia's growing population - and
Australian livestock exports can be part of the food solution and at the same time deliver the best animal welfare standards in the world.
Jobs, prosperity and good animal welfare outcomes can go hand in hand. That's why I support the Australian livestock export industry and I ask you to support it too.