Exporters angry over live trade ads

Rueben haleThe West Australian

Outraged livestock exporters have accused animal welfare group Animals Australia of wasting money on advertising instead of contributing to raising standards.

Animals Australia, which is vehemently opposed to the live trade, has launched a controversial public advertising campaign targeting the industry, with graphic images of cruelty on billboards, taxis and buses.

WA Live Exporters Association chairman Nicholas Daws said the slogan used by he activist group - "It's a crime against animals" -implied the industry was a criminal organisation.

"We have a legitimate industry and more so, we're going further by acting responsibly by striving to meet community animal welfare expectations," he said.

"Animals Australia would be better placed to focus their efforts on dealing with issues that further improve welfare standards of animals in the industry, rather than wasting money on advertising campaigns."

Mr Daws said the 2015 Federal Government report into the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System said welfare had improved throughout the industry since the system's introduction in 2011.

"The system has meant the industry continues to improve globally and it was recognised by the international health and welfare body OIE that standards would deteriorate without it," he said.

But Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the Federal Government should be blamed for the billboards.

"It is their failure to take appropriate action on recurring cruelty in the live trade that has resulted in our decision to re-launch the public campaign to end live export," she said.

Ms Chalk said the group had shifted its focus from animals in Australia to the welfare of animals in Vietnam.

"Recently Vietnamese authorities buried alive truckloads of hundreds of cats arriving from China that were heading into their dog and cat food markets as their way of disposing of the problem," she said.

"Any suggestion Australia's involvement in the live trade inspires positive change in these countries is part of unsubstantiated industry propaganda, as evidenced by the fact that most importing countries still have no animal cruelty laws.

"The absence of such laws clearly reveals the lack of relevance that the humane treatment of animals has to associated governments."

Ms Chalk said Australia's involvement in the shipping of live animals for slaughter sent the "most contrary example possible" regarding the appropriate treatment of animals.

"Animal protection groups will never sway from our position that supplying animals to countries where there are no local laws to protect them from cruelty is wrong," she said.

"Any person who thinks that ESCAS will protect exported animals from being brutally treated is ill-informed to say the least."

Meanwhile, WAFarmers president Dale Park said there was no inherent cruelty in live animal exports.

"The issue comes down to people in the industry who don't do the right thing in regards to the best welfare practices," he said.

"And when animals are treated properly, the animals and the industry are better off."

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