13 February 2013 

Andrew addresses Parliament about live animal exports, and recommends the establishment of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare.

Deputy Speaker, this week Animals Australia announced they’ve lodged a second complaint with the Government regarding Australian sheep being cruelly butchered at the notorious Al Rai livestock market in Kuwait.

Deputy Speaker good on them, because the sale of Australian sheep at this market is in clear breach of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, or ESCAS, which was put in place by the Government after the shocking evidence of live export cruelty in Indonesia emerged on Four Corners in May almost two years ago.

In fact Animals Australia first reported breaches in Kuwait with the Government five months ago, and in another investigation just last month they found at least 11 merchants selling or butchering Australian sheep.

But since Animals Australia first notified the Government of the ESCAS breaches thousands of Australian sheep have been sold and slaughtered against regulations and, according to Animals Australia, the only change has been that livestock traders now tear the ear tags out of Australian sheep in a crude attempt to get around the system. Yes that’s right Deputy Speaker, the current system is so weak that a tug on the ear and a shriek of animal pain is all that’s required to beat the best animal welfare system this country has so far been able to come up with. And that’s pathetic.

Deputy Speaker since September last year Animals Australia has also raised ESCAS breaches in Pakistan, Israel and Mauritius. And in each instance the Government has apparently done nothing which is evidence, I am sure, that the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System is simply no assurance at all.

Deputy Speaker I’ve received countless emails, letter and phone calls about live animal exports and other animal welfare matters. The concern expressed is urgent and genuine, the community sick to death of this Government treating animal welfare as a persistent nuisance and paying it only passing concern.

The Government has shown itself to be either incompetent, or unwilling, to police animal welfare making the establishment of a sometimes talked about Office of Animal Welfare a top priority. This would, I suggest, remove animal welfare from political and commercial self-interest and, with a broad remit to enforce strong animal welfare standards across the whole of government, genuinely help to ensure animal welfare standards are appropriately enforced.

Deputy Speaker Lyn White and Animals Australia do a fantastic job. They have my gratitude and the gratitude of many other Australians. But this is ultimately a government responsibility. And until we have an Independent Office of Animal Welfare, I have no confidence that the government will take their responsibility seriously.

Thank you Deputy Speaker.

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