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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        1  June  2011

Australian senator calls for ban on Indo cattle exports

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Australia’s suspension of live-cattle exports to some abattoirs in Indonesia on welfare concerns is ineffective and the trade should be banned, according to Senator Nick Xenophon, who said animals are “being tortured.”

“There are 120 slaughterhouses in Indonesia, this order suspends trade to 11 of them,” Xenophon said in an interview. “This is only a 9 percent solution,” he said.

Australia yesterday suspended the export of live cattle to some plants in Indonesia, its largest buyer, and has ordered an inquiry after an Australian Broadcasting Corp. program broadcast footage of animals being mistreated. Xenophon and independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie said yesterday they will seek to introduce laws to ban live-cattle exports to Indonesia.

“What we’ve seen in Indonesia is it’s so systemic, the system is so broken, the animal cruelty so widespread there doesn’t seem to be another choice,” Xenophon said. “It’s bad for Australia’s international reputation.”

Live-cattle exports to Indonesia are valued at A$300 million ($322 million) annually, according to the ABC program. Australia’s total live-cattle exports are forecast by the government at A$753 million next fiscal year.

The footage, broadcast May 30, showed cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses being kicked and whipped. One cow, which broke its leg on the abattoir’s slippery floor, had its tail broken, eyes gouged and water poured in its nostrils. Some cattle were slaughtered with blunt knives, according to the footage.

“It is not tenable to be sending animals in those conditions where they are being mistreated, they are effectively being tortured,” Xenophon said. “In the short term, a suspension could really jolt authorities in Indonesia and in Australia to doing right thing.”

An independent reviewer will be appointed to investigate the export of live cattle up to slaughter, Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said in a statement yesterday.

Australia stopped exporting live animals to Egypt in 2006 amid cruelty concerns before lifting the ban in 2008, Xenophon said yesterday. The country shipped 148,000 live cattle overseas in the three months to March 31, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The lawmakers’ bills may be introduced into parliament on June 20, Kate Law, a spokeswoman for Wilkie said yesterday.

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