Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said industry had suspended supply of cattle to three abattoirs in Vietnam after the release of disturbing footage showing the mistreatment of animals.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources commenced an investigation immediately after receiving the complaint and has met with Vietnamese authorities, who are also investigating the allegations.
Members of the industry body, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, agreed to suspend several facilities last Sunday (June 12) pending internal investigations. ALEC is currently considering further measures in light of information contained in a complaint provided by the Department to exporters on Monday, June 13 2016.
Since 2013 the Coalition has strengthened the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource’s capacity to apply penalties, to suspend, revoke or cancel licences for premises that are in breach and suspend or cancel permits for exporters that are proven to have done the wrong thing.
“Anyone viewing this footage would be shocked and upset at the mistreatment and we are taking these reports very seriously,” Minister Joyce said.
“The treatment is totally abhorrent and it is the very antithesis of the animal welfare standards the Australian Government has been working towards and promoting internationally.”
“The abattoir at the centre of the most serious allegations is a non-approved facility and it is alleged that Australian cattle were being supplied to this abattoir against Australia’s strict rules.”
“It has not yet been confirmed on the evidence available whether the cattle were originally sourced from Australia, however the Australian industry has already taken action to suspend all exports to identified Vietnamese abattoirs.”
Minister Joyce said Australia was the only country in the world that had a supply chain system in place that monitored exporters (ESCAS), which requires supply chain partners not to sell Australian animals outside the list of approved facilities.
The Coalition will continue to enhance the ESCAS system to improve welfare standards and ensure that those who are found to have breached our stringent standards are held to account.
Animals Australia first reported the incident on 9 June and the department immediately began investigations on receipt of the preliminary evidence on 10 June.
The department is experienced in regulating and working with the live export industry to investigate and address animal welfare concerns.
“I am confident their investigations will reveal what has gone wrong and what actions are required to prevent the mistreatment of Australian animals at ESCAS approved facilities in future,” Minister Joyce said.
The Coalition supports the live export trade not only because of the economic benefits to our nation but because of the social benefits of improving the food security and living standards of millions of people all over the world, including in countries where there are strong cultural preferences for freshly slaughtered meat.
The live export industry makes up approximately 12 per cent of Australia’s red meat exports.