Plea for speedier livestock probes
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is under pressure from the powerful Cattle Council of Australia to speed up investigations into alleged mistreatment of Australian livestock in overseas markets.
The CCA has questioned the ability of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to complete investigations in a timely manner.
It has urged Mr Joyce to allocate more resources so that inquiries are finalised quickly as the DAFF struggles with 14 separate investigations into alleged breaches under the Federal Government's export supply chain assurance scheme.
The outstanding investigations include incidents as far back as November 2012.
CCA said the long, unfinished investigations increased the risk of ongoing breaches and created frustration on both sides of the live export debate.
It called for a "swift and definitive" investigation into recent footage of extreme cruelty involving cattle exported from Fremantle.
WA-based, Jordanian-owned company Livestock Shipping Services has conceded some of the incidents filmed in Gaza during October could involve cattle it sent to the Middle East.
A number of incidents involving LSS in other markets are under investigation, but DAFF has refused to suspend its operations despite protests from Animals Australia and Stop Live Exports.
CAA president Andrew Ogilvie wrote to Mr Joyce last week warning about the impact of the Gaza incidents and urging a quick response.
"Incidents such as this have broad ramifications and hurt the cattle production sector as a whole and could create a consumer backlash against beef," Mr Ogilvie said.
"Cattle Council urges you and your department to consider ways of improving the timeliness of investigations and supports an increase in resources being directed at resolving investigations quickly.
"Improvements could also be made by better prioritising the department's limited resources on investigations which are assessed as most critical."
CAA recently affirmed its support for ESCAS, which makes exporters responsible for the treatment of animals sold overseas until after slaughter. It also backed strong action against exporters which showed "flagrant disregard for ESCAS".
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