Australia claims to have the best regulated live animal export trade in the world. But regulation is one thing, and enforcement is entirely another. The trade is supposedly regulated by the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock, and all available evidence indicates that while these industry-developed standards exist, they are largely unenforceable, unenforced, and barely provide these animals with any protection while they are still in Australia, much less when they leave Australian waters.
The Standards are monitored by AQIS, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, and this is how well it is done.
Animals Angels frequently attends loadings in Fremantle. They state that there are routinely no government inspectors present at the wharf to deal with transport mismanagement such as overloading, ill and injured animals arriving for export, and cruelty such as beating and throwing the animals and the overuse and inappropriate use of electric prod devices.
These are some examples cited by Animals Angels
On Sunday 01.06.2008, they had to call an AQIS inspector. Likewise on 3 Apr 2008, 25 Mar 2008, and 21 Dec 2007, when they actually have to call AQIS to attend. AQIS arrives, but does no inspections.
A review of the AQIS mortality reports that Animals Australia was able to obtain under Freedom of Information provisions indicates that in almost all cases, the animals are not given the mandated periods in "registered premises" (feedlots) to accustom them to pelletized fodder. In November 2006 on the "Maysora", more than 450 cattle died either on the ship or on arrival in Tzofar; these cattle were southern bred cattle loaded in contravention of the ASEL. Heat exhaustion, pneumonia, septicaemia were the causes of death reported. On a voyage from Tasmania in 2006 on the aging "Al Messilah", a former car transporter, ill and injured sheep were loaded, the animals only had a matter of hours in the feedlot and there was not enough feed on the ship for the journey. 1,632 died on the ship, from starvation, heat exhaustion and trauma.
The industry then would have us believe that it can influence the way animals are treated in importing countries. Please visit the link below to see how successful they are.
Further information attesting to this filmed by Animals Australia is at its
Live Export Indefensible website (www.liveexport-indefensible.com)
Now the Australian government (Rudd, the man who "cannot abide cruelty") is resuming the trade in cattle to Egypt. Most of the countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, to which Australia exports animals are signatories to (minimal) OIE (International Organization for Animal Health) animal welfare standards. You be the judge of their compliance.
No Memorandum of Understanding Australia has signed with any of these countries is legally enforceable, none has been tested, and they only provide for the animals to be offloaded from the ships in the event of a "dispute". They were developed to avert another public relations disaster like the 2003 "Cormo Express" tragedy, when 55,000 sheep were rejected by Saudi Arabia, and drifted around the Gulf for more than three months before Eritrea was persuaded to accept them. Representatives from Compassion in World Farming in Eritrea at the time claimed that only about 40,000 sheep were alive to be unloaded in Eritrea and left to a largely unkown fate. The "Cormo Express" was re-named the "Merino Express" very soon afterwards.
While the industry can claim that mortality rates on board the ships have improved, over 2 million animals have died on these voyages in recent years. The industry also claims that it can "improve" handling and slaughter practices in these countries where animal protection laws are non-existent. It is using your tax dollars in its token efforts to do so, and these wholly unsuccessful efforts are only in response to the massive public exposure on reputable documentary programs of the appalling brutality these animals face. Consider the human rights records of these countries. What hope do animals have? The images that remain in my mind are of cattle having their leg tendons slashed and eyes stabbed before being hacked to death, and the bull, hit so hard over the head with a metal bar that he was on his knees trembling - before the film was cut off. Sheep are thrown by ears and legs, and thrown into car boots or onto roofracks with their legs hobbled. They are dragged to slaughter by often broken legs, and their throats hacked at until they finally bleed to death, fully conscious.
This cruelty is outlawed in Australia, and it is unconscionable for the Australian government to allow animals to be treated like this half way across the world. Please remember, turning away from these hapless animals - saying "I can't look at this" - is abandoning these millions of animals, and telling the government that you find this disgraceful trade - and the fact that you are helping to fund it - acceptable.