Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO, Simon Westaway, the body representing the nation’s $2 billion livestock export trade that forms part of a national $18 billion red meat industry, has responded strongly to outlandish criticisms made against it in Federal Parliament today by Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie.
Mr Westaway said Mr Wilkie’s public position on the trade, whilst well known and previously outlined, remains dismissive of Australia’s role as a global leader in animal welfare outcomes in livestock exporting.
He said the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised Australia as the world leader in animal welfare practices in the trade.
“Australia is the acknowledged international leader of animal welfare outcomes amongst more than 100 other livestock exporting countries,” Mr Westaway said.
“Livestock exports form part of the total off-farm value of Australia’s red meat industry which is today worth almost $18 billion annually to our economy. Our sector does not warrant attracting such over-the-top criticism, based alone on our present contribution to both economic and animal welfare outcomes.
“We continue to demonstrate our ‘no fear – no pain’ objective in relation to animals under our management.
“Australia’s livestock export community also knows good animal welfare outcomes represent good business. As one of Australia’s top ten agricultural exports, our industry also employs over 13,000 people across the country, but in particular throughout northern Australia.
“Our commitment doesn’t stop when Australian livestock leave our country or are discharged from their vessel. It exists up to the point of slaughter and we are the only country that makes that commitment.”
Mr Westaway said if the Federal Member for Denison’s preposterous position was seen through and Australian livestock exporters removed, the live trade would continue globally but overall animal welfare standards would decline.
“Our industry sector is very much working to meet our obligations to the welfare of livestock in our care and while cementing our contribution to rural and regional Australia’s economic growth,” Mr Westaway said.
“Recent trade and economic developments in Indonesia and China represent a best practice approach by Australia’s livestock export trade to even better meet food security and market opportunities, and still make a substantive contribution to global welfare improvement.
“Ours is an intrinsically dynamic industry, driven by increasing demand across greater Asia and the Middle East for quality live animals as a source of protein, and our hard-earned reputation as a reliable trading partner and unmatched supply chain expertise and professionalism.
“As an industry, we are genuinely committed to the care, wellbeing and welfare of all exported livestock at all times, within a fully accountable and transparent regulatory system.”
CONTACT: Simon Westaway
0401 994 627