Australian horses, ponies and donkeys can be exported for slaughter overseas without any control over what happens to them — a loophole authorities are trying to shut.
All other livestock — such as sheep, cattle, llamas, camels and buffalo — are subject to strict supply chain assurances, but no such government conditions are in place for equine animals.
Federal Agriculture Department staffer Narelle Clegg, who oversees live exports, is attempting to close the gap after receiving a few sporadic inquiries.
‘‘Whether they’re for slaughter or not isn’t a consideration at the moment in export legislation,’’ Ms Clegg told a Senate hearing last Wednesday.
‘‘I’m therefore trying to work as fast as we can on having something ready to go in the event an application actually arrives.’’
The department has proposed the minister consider including equine species intentionally exported for slaughter abroad in the supply chain assurance regime.
‘‘What we’re requiring exporters to do, if the policy’s approved, would be to make sure the arrangements in place met international animal welfare standards for the handling, transport and slaughter of any equine species,’’ Ms Clegg said.
Independent Senator Derryn Hinch quizzed officials about whether there was an application to breed Australian donkeys for export to China to be slaughtered, skinned and used in anti-ageing cosmetics.
‘‘No Senator, there isn’t. We haven’t received such an application,’’ Ms Clegg replied.
The department has been discussing the issue of equine animals being sent overseas for slaughter with animal welfare groups and exporters.