MEDIA RELEASE: “RSPCA should look in its own backyard for animal welfare concerns: O’Sullivan”

23 March 2016

THE RSPCA should dedicate more resources to tackling the rising number of domestic animal cruelty cases than politicising and incriminating our live export trade, says Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan.

Senator O’Sullivan said the RSPCA’s recent announcement to target the live export trade during the coming Federal election ignored the success of the world-leading Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) and would ultimately only further jeopardise the financial viability of thousands of North Australian businesses.

The RSPCA has in recent weeks launched an information campaign, targeting federal politicians in time for the election, calling for a radical overhaul of the Australian beef cattle and sheep industry supply chain to dramatically increase the number of livestock processed in Australia.

Senator O’Sullivan said the RSPCA’s campaign purposely overlooked the serious animal welfare concerns in its own backyard.

Instead of demanding changes to the successful ESCAS program, Senator O’Sullivan said the RSPCA should focus its energies on investigating the cause of the rising number of reports of animal cruelty against domestic pets and native wildlife across Australia.

“By the RSPCA’s own figures, it has investigated 221,222 complaints of animal cruelty against domestic animals and native wildlife since ESCAS commenced in 2011,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“Between 2012-13 and 2014-16, the number of these complaints rose by more than 20 per cent. This is an alarming spike that the RSPCA should be investigating.”

Senator O’Sullivan said the live export trade had comparatively few animal welfare complaints in comparison.

“Between 2011 and 2015, Australia exported 14.6 million head of livestock in more than 1200 consignments,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“In that time there has only been 89 complaints of potential breaches of the ESCAS system, many of which were reported by the live export industry.

“It’s clear the ESCAS system is leading the world in the push to improve animal welfare standards.”

Senator O’Sullivan said the live export supply chain absorbed the cost to administer ESCAS, which is estimated to be between $50 and $100 per head, in order to ensure there were world-leading animal welfare practices in place.

“We know that all that would be achieved by banning Australian livestock exports is that animal welfare standards in the markets previously serviced by Australia would worsen,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“We know that our live export markets have an expressed desire for freshly slaughtered meat. Australia cannot expect to prescribe market tastes in other countries.

“The live export industry is proving that ESCAS is working and now is not the time to tinker with a winning formula.

“There are serious cruelty issues closer to home that the RSPCA should be focussed on.”