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30 May 2011

RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia have joined forces to call for an immediate halt to the cattle trade to Indonesia after the exposure of the worst abuses ever documented in Australia’s live export trade.

The investigation, carried out by Animals Australia in March, revealed that on a nightly basis Australian cattle are being subjected to abuse and torture prior to slaughter.

Animals Australia’s cruelty investigator, Lyn White, said the Minister’s announcement tonight of putting his department in charge of an investigation in Indonesia is unacceptable.

“This is the very department that has been doing the industry’s bidding for decades so no Australian can rest easy knowing these animals are back in their hands,” said Ms White.

 She also commented that the industry’s eleventh hour bid to suspend supply to three abattoirs is a desperate attempt to appease public outrage.

“MLA representatives had visited six times in the last 14 months one of the most brutal abattoirs filmed in this investigation. Yet they are now suggesting further training is the solution when clearly they have failed to prevent the cruelty occurring there on a nightly basis.

“What MLA and LiveCorp don’t admit is that they have created the problem. They have been using Australian taxpayer funding to install restraint boxes for cattle that are inherently cruel and breach international animal welfare standards.

 “These devices (Mark 1 restraint box) facilitate a distressing and cruel death and have been condemned by the world’s leading slaughter expert Temple Grandin as being ‘atrocious’ and as ‘violating every humane standard in the world’.

“If animal protection groups weren’t exposing this cruelty, MLA and LiveCorp would happily continue to install these boxes and supply animals to facilities where wanton cruelty against animals is the norm, as they have done for over a decade.

“MLA and Livecorp have been deliberately deceiving farmers to ensure supply of animals and misrepresenting their work to the government to maintain support for the trade. It has never been clearer that this is not a trade worthy of government backing.”

RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist Dr Bidda Jones conducted a full scientific assessment of the evidence from this investigation and found that every slaughter facility visited breached international animal welfare standards.

 “Through my analysis I found that the majority of animals were subjected to physical abuse, such as tail twisting, hitting, kicking, eye gouging, and even tail breaking or tendon slashing. One Brahman steer with a broken leg was tortured for 26 minutes before being killed,” said Dr Jones.

 “Cattle experienced an average of 11 cuts to the throat, with one slaughterman cutting at the throat of a steer 33 times. Half of all Australian animals observed being slaughtered showed signs of consciousness more than one and a half minutes after their throats were cut.

“But the most galling aspect of this evidence is that the industry’s installation of Mark 1 boxes has entrenched a system of restraint and slaughter that causes significant suffering and that would be illegal in Australia.

 “This is what Australian industry presence in Indonesia for two decades has achieved. Putting live exporters in charge of animal welfare is like putting tobacco companies in charge of the public health system.”

RSPCA Australia and Animals Australia are calling on the Gillard Government to immediately halt the cattle trade to Indonesia and announce an end date for all live exports. On top of this, the government should urgently assist producers in whatever way is necessary to get their animals to processors in Australia.

N.B. The footage from the Animals Australia investigation was taken straight to Four Corners due to the government’s failure to act on further evidence of the cruel treatment of exported sheep in the Middle East last November. The Indonesia footage is also being provided to all Federal parliamentarians.


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