The RSPCA has expressed grave concerns over the Department of Agriculture‚Äôs response to the latest live export disaster, as thousands upon thousands of Australians react with anger and outrage over the shocking evidence.
The concerns come following the RSPCA‚Äôs meeting with Australian Government Department of Agriculture representatives yesterday.
‚ÄúIt beggars belief that the very ship at the centre of this scandal is moored in Fremantle as we speak, and may yet be issued with a new export permit this week, with minimal additional terms,‚Äù said RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones.
‚ÄúAt this stage, we expect the department will ask for a token reduction in stocking density, just one additional stockperson on board, and just one departmental observer on board who is paid for by the exporter,
‚ÄúIn other words, the Department appears to be still accepting that sheep on a three to four week journey don‚Äôt all need to lie down, and don‚Äôt need easy access to food and water ‚Äì which is clearly preposterous,
‚ÄúAnyone who has seen this footage will immediately know these futile measures are like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic ‚Äì it simply won‚Äôt make a difference,
‚ÄúThat level of bureaucratic response, given the scale and seriousness of this evidence, is woefully inadequate and, frankly, very alarming,
‚ÄúThe RSPCA is becoming critically concerned that the regulator has not only failed farmers and the community in the past, but appears unable to perform its role correctly, even under such intense scrutiny,
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very clear why an adequate response to animal welfare concerns in live export has been lacking for so long,
‚ÄúLet‚Äôs be clear - the job of the regulator should not be to promote, advocate for or facilitate this industry,
‚ÄúAs the regulator, their role is to enforce the regulations as they stand,
‚ÄúWe would strongly emphasise our earlier message ‚Äì we believe that, given the overwhelming evidence, the Secretary for Agriculture does not have the legal or regulatory mandate to issue another permit for the long-haul live export of sheep,
‚ÄúThe conditions required for this permit can simply not be satisfied,‚Äù said Dr Jones.
‚ÄúWe have to keep asking, why are we doing this? Why are we going to these extraordinary lengths to facilitate a trade that‚Äôs destroying our international reputation, causing thousands of Australian animals to suffer and die, and offers very little actual benefit to farmers?,
‚ÄúWhen it‚Äôs opposed by the vast majority of the community - it just doesn‚Äôt make sense,‚Äù she said.
A still from the Awassi Express footage, showing what the proposed 17.5% stocking density reduction would look like (around 20 sheep less in a pen of 150 animals that‚Äôs already stocked at 5% below the standard).
Download this image here: https://www.rspca.org.au/sites/default/files/media/23942_Liveexport_Onboard_2018_11_minus20.jpg