find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Can we ban live animal export?

Can we ban live animal export?

As Australia weighs up the issues around a complete ban of live export of animals, legal counsel Ruth Hatten looks at the legal angles.

As Australia weighs up the issues around a complete ban of live export of animals, legal counsel Ruth Hatten looks at the legal angle. 

The ABC’s Four Corners exposed the brutality of live export, as it happens in Indonesia. The expose revealed horrific conditions experienced by Australian cattle when they face slaughter overseas.

The overwhelming public response to the expose resulted in a temporary ban on the live export of cattle, calves, sheep, lambs and goats to Indonesia (except for breeding purposes) by virtue of the Export Control (Export of Live-stock to the Republic of Indonesia) Order 2011.

This move by Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig appeased those with concern for animal welfare but disgruntled those concerned with the economic impact of the ban on an industry reported to be worth approximately $300 million.

Australians are pondering the ramifications of the temporary ban.  

There are those, like myself, who want a complete ban.  There are others who want the trade resumed.  Moral issues abound, especially in respect of the blatant cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle and the effects of a ban on producers’ livelihoods.  There are also vast and complicated legal issues which warrant consideration.

Primarily, the longstanding classification in law of animals as property plays a big role in the level of control that Australia has over animals it exports overseas.  Once our animals have been sold and delivered to an importing country, they are subject to the customs and practices of that country.  

Herein lies a big part of the problem - none of the countries that Australia exports animals to have adequate animal protection laws.  Take Indonesia for example.  Indonesia passed a Farm and Animal Welfare law at least 18 months ago but without regulations providing sanctions, there are no penalties if the law is breached.  

The Australian Government is considering resuming live export to accredited abattoirs in Indonesia that comply with OIE standards.  The OIE standards are contained in the World Organisation for Animal Health’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Chapter 7.5 Slaughter of Animals.  The OIE is a 178-member organisation, members of which include Australia, Indonesia and all other countries that Australia exports livestock to.

These (unenforceable) standards do not provide the same level of protection as the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and, most importantly, do not require pre-stunning, an inherent problem with the inhumane practices seen on Four Corners.  

Indonesia is considering whether the ban breaches World Trade Organisation rules on discriminatory grounds.  The Australian Government says it doesn’t, but the full ramifications of Indonesia’s claim are yet to be seen.  

Where to from here?

Bill Farmer, ex Australian ambassador to Indonesia, has been appointed to conduct an independent (but financed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) review of Australia’s live export trade.  An interim report is due by 29 July and a final report by 31 August.

Following a motion by Greens senator, Rachel Siewert, a senate inquiry is being conducted into the role and effectiveness of Government and relevant industry bodies (including MLA and Livecorp) in improving animal welfare standards in Australia’s live export markets and the domestic economic impact of the live export trade.  Submissions have been called for by 15 July and a report is scheduled for 25 August.

The Independents and Greens have introduced bills to Parliament seeking to ban all live export from Australia.  The Independents want a complete phase out of live export by 1 July 2014.  The Greens want an immediate ban.  It is hoped that the bills will be considered when the Winter session of Parliament resumes on 4 July. 

In light of the indication by the Government and Opposition that they support the resumption of live export, passing of the bills is uncertain.  Live export could be banned but continued public support is needed to ensure we no longer expose our animals to barbaric conditions that we cannot realistically control. 

Ruth Hatten is legal counsel at Voiceless, the animal protection institute. 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Can we ban live animal export?
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...