Veterinarians call for Government to fully invest in live animal export enforcement

Media release date: 
Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Australia’s peak body for veterinarians, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), is calling for urgent changes to protect the health and welfare of animals exported to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer.

President of the AVA, Dr Paula Parker, says that in this case the system intended to protect animal welfare has clearly failed and there needs to be an urgent response.

“Any breaches of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock are unacceptable to veterinarians, farmers and the community. Furthermore, where these standards are found to be deficient, they must be urgently reviewed,” she said.

Minister Littleproud has publicly committed to ensuring industry, government and the regulator fulfil their responsibilities. Last night, the Minister announced a short, sharp review of the standards for the sheep trade during the Middle Eastern summer.

“We welcome this announcement and look forward to Minister Littleproud presenting his plans and we’re pleased to see a veterinarian is leading this review,” Dr Parker said.

When veterinarians are on board live export vessels they provide daily reports to the government on the state of animal health and welfare.

“It is imperative that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has sufficient resources and veterinary animal welfare experts to act on these reports appropriately and without delay.

“There is no place in the industry for exporters who are not committed to upholding animal welfare as the primary guiding principle for the export of livestock.

“Action must be taken immediately to provide assurance of animal welfare on board live export ships to the Middle East. Appropriate standards must be in place and enforced to ensure horrific animal welfare outcomes like those depicted never occur again,” Dr Parker said.

The AVA policy on live export states:

Ideally, Australian food animals should be slaughtered as close to the site of production as practicable to minimise transport and handling stress, and to ensure they are protected by appropriate and enforceable animal welfare and slaughter standards.

Where live export occurs, an Australian-registered shipboard veterinarian must accompany each shipment and this veterinarian must be independent and thus not employed by either the exporting company or the shipping company.  Pregnancy testing of animals for export must be performed by an Australian-registered veterinarian.

Effective operational protocols must be in place at all times to safeguard the welfare of exported animals. These protocols must ensure humane animal transport, handling and slaughter practices in accordance with best practice; and include accreditation of abattoirs, training of employees and the implementation of an independent animal welfare auditing process.

Animals should not be subjected to prolonged land transport prior to exportation.



For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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