The Australian government has suspended the export of live cattle to Indonesia, as authorities halted nearly 2,000 cattle being loaded onto a ship in Western Australiabound for Indonesia.
The suspension ofshipments worth more than $318 million a year came on Monday in response to public outrage and the angeramong Labor Party Members of Parliamentafter the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners show aired video footage showingcattle being whipped and bleeding to death after their throats were cut at 12 Indonesian abattoirs.
Indonesia accounts for about 60% of Australia's live cattle exports.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, who signed the order suspending trade to, said that the ban is expected to remain in placeat least 10 daysuntil mechanisms for improved treatment of live cattle throughout the supply chain are put into place.
“In light of the evidence presented to us, we have resolved to put a total suspension in place,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard told livestock officials in the country’s Northern Territory. She said Australia would be working closely with Indonesia, and with its own domestic producers, to ensure that“major changes to the way cattle are handled” in Indonesian slaughterhouses can be enacted.
click image to zoomHow many violations are going on in this photo? When slaughter conditions are this bad, the blame for animal abuse can hardly be placed on Australian cattle producers. To be clear, the abuse witnessed on yet another series of horrifying video clips documents what happens after livestock are offloaded in Indonesia. The mishandling, abusive treatment and painful slaughter practices depicted occurred in primitive facilities that are totally unregulated by the Indonesian government. Some of the worst scenes appear to take place in what is merely an empty room, hardly worthy to be described as “an abattoir.”
To repeat: The cruelty takes place totally outside Australia, and neither Aussie producers nor wholesale traders are implicated in any of the abuse, although the country’s leading animal welfare groups, Animals Australia and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals joined forces to record a tearful online plea (and solicitation of donations, of course) for Gillard’s government to ban all live exports.
Having traveled extensively throughout the country, since my wife is Australian, and having toured much of Southeast Asia, I can attest that the practices and standards of cattle production Down Under are among the best in the world. Conversely, the grim conditions that characterize animal slaughter in China, Vietnam and Indonesia are limited only by the cruelty and depraved indifference of the generally poverty-stricken, uneducated work force employed to “handle” the livestock.