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Australia stops some cattle exports after cruelty exposed

By Lynn Curwin     May 31, 2011 in Business
The Australian government has suspended the export of cattle to 11 slaughter houses in Indonesia after a documentary exposed cruel treatment of the animals.
An ABC Four Corners documentary called "A Bloody Business", which aired Monday, included footage from several Indonesian slaughterhouses.
"That footage reveals that Australian training of the slaughtermen in Indonesia has been grossly inadequate," reads the information on the ABC website. "Animals smash their heads repeatedly on concrete as they struggle against ropes, take minutes to die in agony after repeated often clumsy cuts to the throat. In some cases there is abject and horrifying cruelty - kicking, hitting, eye-gouging and tail-breaking - as workers try to force the cattle to go into the slaughter boxes installed by the Australian industry, with Australian Government support."
About 500,000 Australian cattle are sent to slaughter in Indonesia each year.
"I have decided to halt the trade of live animals to the facilities identified by the footage," the BBC quoted Australia's Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig as saying.
"Further, I will appoint an independent reviewer to investigate the complete supply chain for live exports up to and including the point of slaughter.
"I reserve the right to add further facilities to the banned list, if required."
Some MPs want a total ban on the trade with Indonesia, but Indonesian officials are urging them not to make a decision quickly.
"Animal welfare is a relatively new issue in Indonesia. We're still developing regulations," the BBC quoted Sri Mukartini, head of animal welfare at Indonesia's agriculture ministry, as saying.
An RSPCA official said some cattle might have been conscious when they were dismembered.
Animals Australia first uncovered cruel treatment in the abattoirs in March.
Animals Australia, the RSPCA and GetUp have organised a Ban Live Export campaign, and on Tuesday morning all three sites crashed due to the high numbers of visitors.
"We've seen over 35,000 Australians sign a petition against live exports in just five hours this morning," GetUp National Director Simon Sheikh said in a press release. "It's the fastest growing petition I've ever seen."
RSPCA Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, said the next shipment of Australian cattle is due to leave for Indonesia shortly, and the government must act to protect them by announcing an immediate halt to the live trade to that country.
The cattle are usually shipped to feedlots, where they are fattened before going on to slaughter houses.
"We'd assumed that because there were greater level of industry involvement in Indonesia, the treatment of livestock would've been better," an eye witness told ABC."But we couldn't have been more wrong."
The entire documentary can be viewed online at the Ban Live Export website.
More about Cattle, Export, Australia, Indonesia, Cruelty
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