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Valuing animals more than people

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Tuesday, 5 November 2013

When the former government allowed live exports to resume following the suspension in June 2011, it imposed a scheme on exporters known as ESCAS (Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme).

Prior to the suspension, exporters of livestock were only required to track exported animals from the property of origin in Australia to the port of export and report on the outcome of the voyage.

Under ESCAS, permission to export requires the exporter to retain control over the animals through to slaughter in the destination country. That means either vertical integration or appropriate contractual agreements with the importer, feedlot operator, transporter and abattoir operator.


Evidence of traceability is also required so individual animals (cattle and buffalos) can be identified and located at any point. Exporters of sheep and goats must have a system based on counting and reconciliation at points along the supply chain. An end of processing report must be supplied for each consignment along with an independent performance audit report.

Exporting without a licence or intentionally contravening licence conditions carries a penalty of five years in prison.

What prompted the suspension was footage supplied to the ABC by Animals Australia showing cattle from Australia being inhumanely slaughtered in Indonesia. Since then Animals Australia has come up with further claims of cruelty to animals, mostly sheep, exported from Australia to Jordan, Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon, all of which the ABC has dutifully reported.

Animals Australia is an animal rights lobby group committed to forcing an end to all live exports. It takes no interest in other issues.

It has no policy on matters such as the oppression of women or persecution of Christians in destination countries, for example. It is all about the animals.

It does not insist that Australia stop exporting wheat to any of the 27 African countries, Yemen or Iraqi Kurdistan where female circumcision is practised. A 2013 UNICEF found that 125 million women and girls in those countries have been affected.


It has nothing to say about export destinations that do not allow women to vote or that treat women as chattels, or the growing number in which Christian churches are being burnt down and their congregations brutalised. Indeed, there is no equivalent to ESCAS for exporting anything other than livestock.

As a corollary of that, the ABC also has very little to say about those issues, especially in comparison to its coverage of the complaints raised by Animals Australia.

This prompts an interesting question. While a lobby group might be excused for focusing on one issue to the exclusion of all others, is it appropriate for the taxpayer-funded ABC to do the same?

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This article first appeared on Farmonline.

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About the Author

David Leyonhjelm is a former Senator for the Liberal Democrats.

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