This week the Australian Government faces the ultimate test: a crisis situation in Kuwait and a chance to force the live export ‘assurance’ system to work for animals. Their response? An admission that the system doesn’t work.
The current crisis in Kuwait — where Animals Australia investigators have again found hundreds of Australian animals awaiting brutal cruelty — has exposed the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) for the farcical, dysfunctional system it is.
Faced with 500 sheep who have been illegally sold to a Kuwaiti livestock market, the Government has responded with this bizarre assessment of our live export regulations, making a number of false claims in the process.
[PLUGIN type="quotation" quote="The Australian Government does not have the regulatory power to require an exporter to enter into a market overseas and buy back animals (not true) which have been legally sold to a third party. (not true)
Even if we did have the powers, such an approach is likely to be counterproductive — market traders are likely to acquire more Australian sheep if they know there is a steady profit to be made by selling them back to Australian exporters. (not true/completely avoidable)" author="Australian Government spokesperson"]
Let’s break those statements down, to show just how disingenuous they are.
Claim: “The Australian Government does not have the regulatory power to require an exporter to enter into a market overseas and buy back animals."
FALSE. The Australian Government under Commonwealth law can issue a condition on the exporter’s licence, such that “[t]he Secretary may give written directions …relating to the sale and distribution of meat and livestock after export." In short, the Government has the power.
Claim: “The sheep have been legally sold to a third party."
FALSE. The sale of sheep to livestock merchants at this market was illegal. Animals are only available for sale at this market because Australian live export laws have been broken.
Claim: “Market traders are likely to acquire more Australian sheep if they know there is a steady profit to be made by selling them back to Australian exporters."
THE REALITY: This claim is proof that the Australian government doesn’t really believe ESCAS will ever work. Rather than prosecuting exporters for breaching ESCAS, the government is saying that ESCAS has no teeth, won’t work and therefore exporters will continue to ignore it, sending even more sheep to markets like this one. In other words, the government is assuming exporters will do the wrong thing. Surely if the government believes the exporters do not follow or respect ESCAS, then ESCAS should be abandoned along with the live export trade to Kuwait. The government can’t have it both ways. It can’t hide behind ESCAS as a means to reassure the public about animal welfare, only to later claim ESCAS doesn’t work.
The live export industry is the one industry in the country that does not get prosecuted when it breaks the law. This must change …now.