The RSPCA is calling for urgent action – including real-time CCTV monitoring in abattoirs and electronic tracking of Australian animals – after evidence of widespread breaches of live export regulations emerged from Jordan and Indonesia.
The RSPCA has written to Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud regarding the complaints, which include visual evidence, and allege that Australian sheep have been found in at least 10 locations outside of approved supply chains in Jordan, and cattle have been subjected to brutal roping slaughter, including the use of the prohibited Mark 1 box, in Indonesia.
RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said the evidence was disturbing, and exposes systemic weaknesses in the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) framework, which was created specifically to address animal cruelty in export supply chains.
“The alleged breaches in Jordan are brazen in nature, with multiple public advertisements posted on social media for the sale of Australian sheep outside of approved supply chains – it appears to be a complete breakdown in supply chain controls.
“The Jordanian-owned exporter, Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) has by far the highest number of ESCAS breaches of any exporter, with dozens of major and critical breaches against its name, involving many thousands of animals.
“How many more animals need to be subjected to the fear and distress of having their legs bound, being thrown into car boots in the stifling heat, and subjected to makeshift home slaughter, before the Department of Agriculture will revoke this exporter’s licence?
“The current approach of simply applying additional conditions to an exporter’s supply chain during their next consignment has failed dismally – it has proven to be only a minor inconvenience rather than a sufficient deterrent.
“The footage of cattle slaughter in Indonesia is equally disturbing, and all too reminiscent of the horrific scenes from 2011 when cattle were bound by ropes and forced to the ground before having their throats cut without stunning,” said Dr Goodfellow.
The Department scaled back ESCAS audit requirements in April due to COVID restrictions further exposing supply chains vulnerabilities.
The urgent measures proposed by the RSPCA in its letter to the Minister include:
- CCTV monitoring in ESCAS supply chains with real-time Departmental access
- individual electronic identification for exported sheep to facilitate traceability, and
- an immediate review of the Department’s Guideline for the Management of Non-compliance to ensure that more effective penalties are imposed on repeat offenders.