THE Local Government and Regional Development Depart-ment is currently assessing two cruelty complaints lodged by animal rights group Animals Australia regarding two ship-ments of livestock that left Australia last year.
The Department’s public affairs manager Melissa Sims confirmed this week that if there were grounds for a full investiga-tion, it would be launched.
“It is a complex issue and it could be some time before that assessment is completed,” she said.
The recent complaints are similar to the ones that led to Emanuel Exports being charged with three counts of animal cruelty in relation to a shipment of sheep sent to Kuwait in November 2003.
A finding on that case is yet to be presented despite the trial finishing in February.
The recent complaints involve a shipment of cattle traveling to the Middle East and a shipment of goats that was sent from Ger-aldton to Malaysia.
Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said there was sufficient information in Freedom of Information-obtained AQIS investigation reports into shipments of goats and cattle from WA to warrant a full inves-tigation by the WA Government as to whether the shipments breached the WA Animal Welfare Act.
“The AQIS reports reveal that serious breaches of live export standards contributed to the deaths of thousands of animals,” Ms Oogjes said.
WA Livestock Exporters Asso-ciation chairman John Edwards said the industry continues to be peppered with misleading claims by animal rights groups.
“The live export industry does not condone animal cruelty in any shape or form,” he said.
“In fact it is in industry’s best interest to ensure animals arrive in a healthy, happy state to des-tination countries because expor-ters are paid on the number of animals that arrive in a good condition.”
Mr Edwards said there was no other industry in Australia that had to comply with the trans-parency requirements that live export did.
“There is no other industry that I can think of that has its performance tabled in Parliament every few months,” he said.
“Meanwhile the animal rights groups continue to spend public donations on a campaign that presents mistruths.”
Mr Edwards said all sectors of the industry had spent vast amounts of money to improve all facets of the live export trade.
“These animal rights groups do not spend one dollar on trying to find a program aimed at improving animal welfare,” he said.
“It is time they put their money where their mouth is.”
Mr Edwards said exporters did everything in their power to ensure the highest animal welfare standards.
“Some things, such as the weather and mechanical failure, are out of our control,” he said.
“But through the implementation of Australian animal handling and feedlotting practices overseas, Australia is having a genuine influence on improving animal welfare in other countries.”
Mr Edwards said calls to stop live export in favour of processing stock here and shipping meat in frozen or chilled form is just not feasible.
“We cannot tell the customer what product they can buy, no other industry does that and if they did they would not be operating for long,” he said.
“If we don’t export livestock some other country with less or non-existent animal welfare practices will take our place.”