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Thursday, 12 December 2013
Page: 2675


Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (10:43): In response to the terrible atrocities to Australian cattle in Indonesia exposed in 2011, the Labor government introduced the exporter supply chain assurance program, known as ESCAS. Since its introduction, there have been no fewer than 24 formal complaints of cruelty in importing countries under ESCAS, most of them instigated not by the industry, not by the ESCAS auditors, but by animal welfare groups. This suggests that exporters are still having to be dragged kicking and screaming towards good practice rather than embracing it.

But in October one player within the industry stooped to a new low. During the recent Festival of Sacrifice, thousands of Australian sheep were sold outside approved supply chains in Jordan. These sheep were dragged from their pens, abused, shoved into car boots, and eventually had their throats slashed open on the streets and in private backyards. The approved supply chains that were supposed to protect these sheep from abject cruelty are controlled by Livestock Shipping Services, LSS, which is wholly owned by a Jordanian parent company. The evidence strongly indicates that LSS showed complete disregard for the rules of the ESCAS, but it gets worse.

Livestock Shipping Services is now the prime suspect in a further extremely disturbing case of on-selling involving Australian cattle exported to Palestine. I have seen footage taken in the Gaza Strip of what are almost certainly Australian cattle once again during the Festival of Sacrifice this October. It is the most horrific footage of animal cruelty I have ever seen. It is barbaric and an affront to Australian values. It is incumbent on each and every MP and everyone who wishes to comment or to be informed on animal export issues to watch this footage personally, however distressing it may be. The footage documents cattle being chased, dragged and beaten in the streets of Gaza by frenzied mobs. The cattle are repeatedly slashed, even stabbed in the eyes, before having their throats sawed open with blunt knives amid cheering crowds. No animal should be subject to this level of cruelty, anytime, anywhere.

The footage makes a mockery of the claims of the live export industry that by being in the market, we will improve animal welfare practices in importing countries. There is strong evidence linking these cattle to LSS. It is the only company listed on the departmental website with a supply chain to Palestine, and the ear tags on the cattle match those of LSS. LSS continues to carry on its business as usual, purchasing sheep and cattle from Australian farmers for export. The Maysora, an LSS ship, is currently in Fremantle awaiting loading. This government's apologetic indifference and inaction tells LSS it has nothing to lose and everything to gain if it flouts the rules. If ESCAS means anything, the export licence for LSS should be suspended while departmental investigations are undertaken with the view to revoking it, subject to the investigation's conclusion. (Time expired)