AUSTRALIA – Live cattle exports to 11 Indonesian abattoirs investigated by the ABC’s Four Corners programme will be suspended, Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has confirmed.
The broadcast showed horrific visions of cattle being inhumanely slaughtered at Indonesian abattoirs.
The footage is said to be worse than an expose into live cattle exports to Egypt five years ago, which forced the Australian Government to suspend trade.
The footage showed cattle being beaten, whipped and kicked prior to slaughter.
Despite industry assurances that the welfare of cattle sent to Indonesia is “generally good”, Four Corners revealed that many thousands of these animals die slow and hideous deaths.
Minister Ludwig has ordered an immediate investigation into the footage by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
He also announced the suspension of a type of animal-restraint box used in live exports, and asked the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer to coordinate an independent, scientific assessment of the on-going appropriateness of all types of restraint boxes.
“We’d assumed that because there were greater level of industry involvement in Indonesia, the treatment of livestock would’ve been better. But we couldn’t have been more wrong,” said ABC Four Corners.
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Chairman Don Heatley said the industry fully accepts there is much more work to do in Indonesia, and that the treatment depicted in the footage will not be tolerated by anyone in the industry.
“The livestock export industry will be investigating the further facilities identified during Four Corners and will take immediate corrective action, as it did last week when shown footage of four facilities. On seeing this footage the industry immediately moved to suspend the supply of cattle to three facilities where cruel practices were identified.
“MLA and LiveCorp also sent an extra team of animal welfare experts to Indonesia to intensify our training programmes to address poor practices identified in another facility,” Mr Heatley said.
Cattle Council of Australia CEO David Inall said the industry is assessing every facility that receives Australian cattle.
“The animal cruelty shown on the Four Corners programme is indefensible. Cattle producers are committed to ensuring facilities that receive our cattle are meeting international standards,” Mr Inall said.
Australian Beef Association Chairman, Brad Bellinger said: “He and his fellow ABA members were appalled at what they saw on the Four Corners expose of Indonesian slaughter.”
He said that banning live cattle exports was not the answer, as it would bankrupt Northern producers who have no export abattoir within 2500kms.
Indonesia is Australia’s biggest customer, taking 60 per cent of the live cattle trade.
That’s half a million animals a year, worth more than $400 million.
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