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Statement regarding ABC Four Corners program

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Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Statement regarding ABC Four Corners program

5 November 2012

DAFF understands and shares the community’s concern about the recent events in Pakistan outlined on the Four Corners program on 5 November.

These events have been very distressing to everyone involved in this issue.

DAFF has commenced an investigation to see if there were any breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and will make the results of the investigation public when it is completed.

We do not know the reasoning behind the Pakistan authority's decision to cull the sheep in Pakistan or their choice of the method used. We continue to hold that both the decision and the method used were unnecessary.

Everything possible was done by the exporter and the Australian government to unload the animals in their original destination — Bahrain. Following ongoing delay in the unloading of the sheep in Bahrain, the exporter decided to redirect the sheep to an alternative destination in Pakistan citing possible adverse animal welfare outcomes.

DAFF assisted by fulfilling all of its regulatory responsibilities in relation to animal health and welfare.

These responsibilities included confirming and certifying that the sheep met all of the Pakistani government’s import requirements for live sheep. They also included verifying that the animals would be placed into a supply chain that met Australia’s stringent animal welfare requirements.

Despite the strenuous efforts of the exporter and the Australian government officials over a considerable period of time it is clear that the sheep were not processed through the approved supply chain nor were they handled to international animal welfare standards.

DAFF’s investigation will consider these unfortunate events and recommend any compliance action that will need to be taken.

As well as investigating the incidents surrounding this consignment we are also analysing the risks highlighted by these events and continually improving our regulatory requirements.

We will also continue to work closely with industry, animal welfare groups and our trading partners to maintain Australia’s reputation for high animal welfare standards and build public confidence in the trade.

Despite this tragic event it’s important to remember that Australia remains the only country amongst over one hundred livestock exporting nations that regulates the animal welfare of livestock destined for export from paddock to point of processing.

Over one million sheep and 500,000 cattle have been exported under ESCAS since its introduction last year.

Live animal exports information line — 1800 808 869 operates AEDST 8am to 5pm.