Author Topic: Industry bid to skirt row on sheep cull 6.11.2012  (Read 1662 times)

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Industry bid to skirt row on sheep cull 6.11.2012
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2012, 11:31:04 AM »
 THE live export industry yesterday launched a pre-emptive strike to counteract any public outrage and pressure to close the trade in the wake of last night's airing of footage depicting the mass slaughter of Australian sheep in Pakistan.    

The images, on  ABC TV's Four Corners, showed animals beaten, dragged, their throats  sawn with blunt knives and thrown into pits while some were still alive.

The industry yesterday wrote to MPs and senators to reassure them they were doing their best to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The letter -- signed by the heads of the National Farmers Federation, Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, Sheepmeat Council of Australia and Cattle Council of Australia -- said the decision by Pakistani authorities to reject the shipment and cull the 21,000 sheep was an "extraordinary and unprecedented situation".

However, the Greens said the case showed exporter Wellard had no control over the welfare of its stock and it was the "nail in the coffin" for the live export industry.

Department of Agriculture deputy secretary Phillip Glyde  told Four Corners the government could not guarantee such a cull would  not be repeated.

"We could have similar incident in any of our  markets," he said. "I think it'd be naive to think that any system,  which has humans involved and animals involved as well will always be  perfect."

The sheep were culled last month because local  authorities alleged they were sick despite independent tests showing  they were healthy. They arrived in Pakistan in September after being  rejected from Bahrain, also on health grounds.

The letter is  designed to head off the political storm that engulfed the industry  after the Four Corners expose on mistreatment of cattle in Indonesia  last year that let to a Labor backbench revolt and the temporary  suspension of the trade. "The conditions under which this cull was  performed are extremely distressing and, as a result, the livestock  export industry has taken decisive action to voluntarily suspend exports  of sheep into Pakistan," the letter said.

Wellard released a  video from executive director Stephen Meerwald, saying it spent six  weeks in court trying to stop the cull and the sheep were effectively  kidnapped and "taken from our control" in Pakistan. It also included  footage of the slaughter.

"We, like all Australians, were shocked  at the events that occurred in Pakistan, and we are not exporting sheep  there anymore," said Wellard managing director Mauro Balzarini.

Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White said the incident represented the worst tragedy of the live export trade.

"It is clear that Wellard's failure to be transparent with Pakistani authorities as to the history of this shipment was a major contributing factor to their loss of control and subsequent cruel killing of the sheep," Ms White said.

Greens animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said the slaughter "should be the nail in the coffin of the live export industry".

"Pressure is on MPs of all stripes Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said his department has been looking into the incident. "This investigation would not have been possible prior to the reforms
introduced to the live animal export industry by this government last year," he said.