As promised here is the letter response from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry about my email to the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP. See my last post titled ‘Are Australians Hypocritical’. The letter was scanned and emailed to me as an PDF attachment as they did not have my postal address. I had a lot of issues trying to resize the PDF so all of the letter could be read so last night I had to delete the post as I knew I was going to have to type the letter out again (I’m thankful for taking typing in grade ten). Also thankyou Nevyn for emailing me about the problem with the post as well. Here is the letter below (that I retyped):
Dear Mrs McArthur
Thank you for your correspondence of 17 June 2009 to the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Housing and Australia’s live export industry. Your correspondence was referred to the Hon. Tony Burke MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, as the matter falls within his portfolio responsibilities. Minister Burke has asked me to reply on his behalf. I regret the delay in responding.
The Australian Government supports a strong, vibrant and growing livestock sector in Australia.
An important part of the sector is the livestock export industry, which was worth more than $900 million in 2008 and underpins employment of around 10 000 people in rural and regional Australia.
This sector comes with challenges and responsibilities different from those in some other export industries. Being part of the international live export trade means Australia can help improve the way it operates. benefiting not just our animals but those from other countries as well. The government and those involved in the live export trade are continuing to work on improvements throughout the supply chain from farm to overseas market.
The Minister recently announced the Live Trade Animal Welfare Partnership, a new three-year partnership with Australia’s livestock export industry with funding of $3.2 million for activities to strengthen animal welfare and support trade. From 2009-10 onwards the program will be funded under a shared arrangement (50:50) with the industry. It is a good example of government and industry working together to support Australian agriculture and trade.
Since the beginning of 2008, Mr Burke has approved projects worth more than $2.4 million under the Live Animal Trade Program that will further improve animal welfare practices in importing countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. The funding has supported upgrades in livestock facilities in the Middle East and Asian regions to ensure they meet international animal welfare standards.
Our involvement in the livestock export trade and our leadership in international animal welfare issues provide the opportunity to influence change and improve conditions for animals in overseas countries.
The government and the live export industry are committed to working with our trading partners to improve animals welfare in those countries that receive our exports. In recent years, infrastructure for unloading, handling and slaughter has been improved in several export destinations. Education and training has also been provided for people involved in animals handling, transport and slaughter.
The government has also introduced standards for the long-distance of animals to overseas markets, called the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock. The standards were written after consultation with scientists and animals welfare experts like the RSPCA. The standards are regularly updated and are available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s website at www.daff.gov.au/livestockexportstandards
Guidelines to ensure exported animals are well treated during road and sea transportation are an important part of the standards. Ships must comply with strict standards about ventilation, drainage and provision of water and food. Each animal must have access to food and water on demand and enough space to lie down and there must be special pens for sick animals to receive veterinary card.
Australia has also signed agreements with some countries in the Middle East concerning the live animal trade. We take these agreements very seriously and have previously suspended shipments to some countries after particular problems have arisen.
While projects funded by the Australian government will provide direct and specific benefits, we recognise that the achievement of long-term reform in animals welfare in developing countries requires the adoption by these countries of the international animals welfare standards. Australia will continue to work with countries in the Middle East and Asia seeking the adoption of the model legislation based on the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) animal welfare standards.
Thank you again for your correspondence.
Peter Ottesen Acting Executive Manager Agricultural Productivity Division