It appears that the live animal export industry is perhaps expecting a pat on the back for its latest initiative: closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in all Vietnamese abattoirs processing Australian cattle.
CCTV cameras work after the fact - they do not prevent abuse; it is unconscionable that industry is knowingly sending cattle into situations where there is a very real risk of them being exposed to horrendous abuse... to a country, a realtively new market that has an horrific record already of, at the very best, not strictly adhering to ESCAS requirements and at the very worst, of supply chain leaks which saw Australian cattle having their spinal chords severed whilst fully conscious and stunning of those cattle attempted with a sledge hammer.
CCTV cameras also do nothing to address the problem of such supply chain leakages. The government and the industry must safeguard the process and the supply chain FIRST, before sending any animals in; if extreme growth has compromised industry's ability to meet the already extremely low animal welfare requirements, then industry needs to regain that ability before sending animals back into those markets.
In the event that footage is captured of ESCAS or OIE breaches, that footage must be made available to the public, or at the very least to those animal protection agencies who have a knowledge of the industry and a history of involvement, in the interests of transparency and accountability.
The prime consideration for all exporters and suppliers is always maintaining or expanding the market and making a profit - this can never be congruous with the best consideration for the animals welfare - that always comes at very best, a poor second.
It is absurd for the government to expect anyone to believe their claims that animal welfare is a high priority for them in consideration of the live export industry whilst they refuse to impose any regulatory action on any of the repeat offender exporters. It's all well and good for Ms Penfold to talk the talk, but let's see if government and industry can or will walk the walk.
The only fail-safe way to ensure the best possible welfare outcome for any animals being sent from Australia to Vietnam or any other country, is to slaughter them IN Australia, under Australian law, to Australian standards.
Katrina Love 20 April 2015
Read Matt Brann's ABC article "CCTV cameras to be installed in all Vietnamese abattoirs and feedlots handling Australian cattle" here.