AVA calls upon the government to act now before it is too late

18 Sep 2020

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is completely dismayed at the lack of government response to reinstate the search for the remaining crew from Gulf Livestock 1. Information received suggests that the Australian government has had expert advice that the search should be discontinued. The AVA strongly refutes this suggestion and believes more must be done before it is too late.

The AVA understands that the last known location of the crew was on the bridge (command platform) of the vessel, and that they were all in the process of abandoning ship. Given this information, there is still hope that the crew may have made it into lifeboats, and that up to 40 lives could still be saved if the search continues.

One of the AVA’s young rising stars within the profession, Queensland veterinarian Dr Lukas Orda, was aboard the livestock carrier Gulf Livestock 1 when it capsized in rough seas near Japan. Lukas, as well fellow Australian, New Zealand and Filipino crew members, have family and friends who desperately want their speedy return, and to this end it is essential that the Australian government works with the Japanese Coast Guard and other appropriate authorities to continue this search.

Recently married, Dr Orda has a loving wife and a six-month-old son awaiting their return. He had only recently taken a role in the live export sector, having worked as an equine veterinarian before being employed on the Gulf Livestock 1.

“Our hearts go out to Lukas’ family and friends”, said AVA President Dr Warwick Vale. “We have reached out to the Orda family to offer our full support during this incredibly difficult time.”

“It is an absolute tragedy for all involved, man and animal”, said Dr Vale. “We must reinstate this search immediately to ensure that every opportunity is given to find the missing crew. I have twice written to Ministers McCormack and Payne expressing a need for more clarity around the search status and asking what the Australian government is doing to help; as yet I have not received a response.”

“There is much anger and frustration about the lack of communication and accurate information that has been provided to the families of the crew. The colleagues of Dr. Lukas who work to ensure the health and welfare of exported livestock on other vessels are disappointed by the lack of action by the Australian government to address this urgent situation. This inaction erodes the confidence of veterinarians and crew who continue to be engaged in this industry. They understand the risks, but they feel let down, and concerned that the government might not have their and their families backs in the event of a similar accident.” Dr Vale said.

“It seems that the respective governments of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines are not effectively communicating with the families of the missing crew, and there is much confusion and uncertainty, which is adding to the stress of the situation for them. The AVA would like a coordinated and professional response, using the latest technology, to ensure everything possible is being done by all governments involved. We are calling for a fulltime liaison officer from DFAT or AMSA to provide daily updates to each of the families and relevant industry stakeholders.”

“We have no time to waste and the AVA demands the Australian government act now on reinstating the search and ensuring a coordinated plan of action moving forward”, said Dr Vale.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health, and welfare.