The RSPCA says the horrific treatment and handling of cattle in the live export trade, which led to the 2011 suspension, must not be overlooked in today’s court decision.
This suspension of live cattle exports came about because Australian cattle were being horrifically treated and brutally slaughtered in Indonesia.
While these conditions were known to the industry and the government, it was only revealed due to the efforts of animal welfare groups and an ABC investigation.
That truth about the fate of Australian animals shocked the nation and changed the landscape for live animal exports, forever.
That treatment of Australian live exported cattle should never have been allowed to happen.
Once revealed, it would have been unconscionable for any Australian Government not to act.
The benefits that resulted from this dark time include the establishment of the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme, or ESCAS, to monitor the welfare of exported animals from departure through to slaughter.
While not perfect, it represented a significant step in the right direction and is now lauded by the live export industry – but it would never have been created without the catalyst of the Indonesian crisis.
While improvements have been made, there remain hundreds of abattoirs that are approved under ESCAS for unstunned slaughter of exported livestock, and it’s likely the fate of those animals would shock and distress most Australians.
The RSPCA hopes this experience will encourage industries and governments to invest in addressing animal welfare issues proactively so as to avoid significant disruptions to their operations in the future.
Image Credit: Cattle are loaded for export at the Noonamah stock yards on the outskirts of Darwin in July 2011. Photograph: Dave Hunt / AAP.