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Reports of animal cruelty are alarming and any mistreatment of animals is appalling and not acceptable.

Australia produces and exports livestock according to animal welfare and production standards which are unmatched by any other country and works actively with destination markets to help improve animal welfare standards.

The government supports a sensible, methodical approach to ensure that matters arising in the live export market are properly investigated by the government of the day and corrective action and compliance applied where required. The introduction of the Exported Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has resulted in improved animal handling procedures and upgraded facilities in many overseas countries.

The ESCAS is the only system in the world that requires exporters to use facilities that meet international animal welfare standards.  It also ensures exported animals are accounted for and stay within approved supply chains to the point of slaughter in the importing country.  Australia’s leadership in the trade has provided a significant opportunity to positively influence animal welfare conditions in importing countries, and continues to do so.  The introduction of ESCAS has seen welfare outcomes improved not only for Australian exported livestock but also for domestic livestock and those sourced from other countries.

Australia is also the only one of more than 100 countries that export live animals that requires World Organisation for Animal Health welfare standards to be met as a minimum for exported livestock.

It concerns me that if Australia’s livestock export trade were to cease, it would be replaced by countries whose trade is not underpinned by international animal welfare benchmarks.

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for investigating any allegations of ESCAS non-compliance and results of these investigations will be made public when completed.  Information on investigations and their outcomes is published on the department’s website at: www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/export/live-animals/livestock/regulatory-framework/compliance-investigations

I appreciate that this is an extremely difficult issue and there are many people in the community with strong views on both sides of the debate.

I am confident that with the proper safeguards the live animal trade can continue successfully in a humane way.

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