Dr Adele Lloyd’s Speech, LAE Rally 

 

I’d like to thank the Animal Rights Coalition team for inviting Sentient-The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics, to speak against the live animal export trade - they really have done a fantastic job of putting this rally together. And I would like to thank each and every one of you who, by being here today, are showing the government & industry that Australians are not going to give up this fight to end live export. 

 

About a year ago, Sentient was 4 people wanting to give animal welfare & ethics better representation by the veterinary community. We were still in the planning stages & not really knowing how we were going to formalize ourselves. Then the Four Corners expose happened… This launched us into action, we wanted to act fast but how were we going to get organized & supported, how were we going to be recognized by the veterinary community? We didn’t have a name, & we didn’t have any members, we weren’t even 100% sure if we were going to be supported.

 

Now, I’m proud to say that Sentient is a registered incorporation, we have a growing member base of veterinarians, students & associates, we have a formalized strategy & we are being recognized within the industry. But what I’m really proud of is our involvement in the fight against Live Animal Export.

 

It was the heartfelt & strong community response to the horrific images we saw on Four Corners that has given Sentient the foundation to forge ahead with the social justice movement of animal welfare & ethics. As animal professionals, veterinarians should be the strongest advocates for high standards of welfare by protecting animals from pain and suffering. Production animals deserve the same humane treatment as companion animals; their welfare should NOT be compromised in favor of economic gain. 

 

The Australian government & industry have clearly failed us in their conclusions from the independent review & Senate enquiry in response to the Four Corners program. They have recommended ongoing involvement in the Live Export trade claiming this facilitates Australia acting as an “agent of change”.

This raises 2 fundamental questions:

  • 1.Why should we continue to entrust the welfare of Australian livestock to government and industry bodies whose track record and performance history has shown no willingness or intent to change for 30 yrs despite being aware of the issues? And,

  • 2.How can we enforce compliance with OIE or other recommendations when dealing with countries where current legislation is a long way from being able to support our animal welfare standards.

These types of changes take time, effort, diplomacy and a collaborative approach and yet our current and historical governments do not show strengths here either. So I ask, should the burden of this role really be inflicted upon Australian cattle?

 

The new supply chain & independent auditing assurance framework on face value was a step in the right direction but again I ask why are OIE standards left as voluntary or even relied upon given they fall far below Australian standards for the slaughter of animals. Vitally, there is no mandate for pre-slaughter stunning. Approximately 90 per cent of cattle slaughtered in Indonesia are not stunned, and the installation of the required equipment in most Indonesian abattoirs is far from feasible.

Once again, economic factors alone remain the driving influence over best practice in animal welfare. 

 

I also challenge the true independence of the proposed auditing bodies, and would welcome the opportunity for animal welfare organisations & other independent vets, including Sentient, to participate in the audit process.

 

Tragically, February’s ABC Lateline program proved just how disappointing & ineffectual the government’s tokenistic changes have been, broadcasting further footage of ongoing cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs. Yet again, the role of monitoring standards and exposing the institutionalized cruelty has had to be taken up by Animals Australia & the ongoing courageous work of Lyn White. 

Sentient calls upon the Government to implement mandatory pre-slaughter stunning in Indonesia and other export destinations whilst working towards solutions that allow the live export trade to be phased out. 

 

Trade of this nature is no longer acceptable nor has a place in today's society. 

 

As animal advocates, we must address the welfare needs of our livestock as a priority.

 

We must act now & can only do this by working towards a permanent end to live animal export. The situation has to change and it's people like us, here today, that need to collectively keep the pressure on. It is US who need to be the “agents of change”.