Author Topic: Gaza 'cattle torture' prompts calls to ban live animal exports  (Read 2186 times)

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Gaza 'cattle torture' prompts calls to ban live animal exports
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2013, 10:32:20 AM »
Gaza 'cattle torture' prompts calls to ban live animal exports. 

Footage has emerged of Australian cattle, including some shipped from WA, being mistreated in Gaza, prompting calls from Labor for exporters to be suspended until the inquiry is over.

Federal Labor is calling for the export licences of some livestock companies to be suspended while investigations are carried out into an apparently shocking case of animal cruelty in the Middle East.

     Footage of animal cruelty, apparently filmed by onlookers during the Festival of Sacrifice in Gaza in October. Footage of animal cruelty, apparently filmed by onlookers during the Festival of Sacrifice in Gaza in October. Photo: Courtesy Animals Australia

Footage has emerged apparently showing Australian cattle being tortured in Gaza.

The footage, filmed by civilians during the Festival of Sacrifice  in  October, shows tagged bulls and cows being kicked, stabbed  and  shot while being dragged - with legs bound - through streets and  makeshift  slaughterhouses as crowds cheer.

The most disturbing  footage shows a  bound animal stabbed in the eye, while another is  knee-capped with bullets from  an assault rifle.

Animals Australia said the cattle have distinctive eartags that show some of the animals are from a shipment that departed Fremantle Port and docked in Israel in June.

The images have reignited calls for the live export trade to be abolished, as parliamentarians from across the political divide come together to demand better animal welfare standards.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said he had viewed the footage and found it "confronting" and "distressing".

"The footage ... has the very great potential to undermine public confidence in what is a very, very important industry for this country," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry had been investigating the alleged breach of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme since November.

But the investigation is not likely to conclude this year, and Mr Fitzgibbon called on the department to issue "show cause" notices to the companies allegedly involved.

This would require them to demonstrate why their licences should not be suspended until the investigation is over.

Suspending the licences would send notice to all those who work in the industry that the government and the community would not allow indiscretions to occur, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the footage showed extreme cruelty and shattered the myth that Australia could influence better animal welfare standards overseas.

"These animals have been subjected to cruelty that is hard to believe," she told reporters.

It was time for chilled-box meat exports to replace the live export trade, she added.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad said "in the real world" there is a demand for live animals in developing countries, and Australia is always trying to lift animal welfare standards.

He dismissed Labor suggestions that exporters should have their licences reviewed, saying the opposition had a poor track record when it came to the live animal trade.

"They nearly shut down northern Australia," he said, referring to Labor's 2011 temporary suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia.

"They haven't got a lot of credibility in that area."

The footage is  among the most shocking ever captured, independent MP Andrew Wilkie  said.

Mr  Wilkie said the barbaric treatment of Australian livestock in overseas markets had to stop.

"Gaza is just the latest in a long line of revelations which  show clearly that Australia's so-called supply chain assurance is failing," Mr Wilkie said.

"If the government doesn't have the backbone to stop the  trade altogether, then it should at least commit to ban or refuse permits to all  companies that have demonstrated a continuing disregard  for animal  welfare."

Animals Australia said the abuse was sickening.

"There are no words to  adequately describe the carnage in these videos and the scale of abuse endured  by ... cattle," Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White  said.

"It is shocking and completely harrowing to watch.

"Any politician or industry supporter who has propagated the industry's clever PR  line that we can improve animal welfare by being in the market should be locked  in a room and forced to watch an hour of footage from Gaza."

The animal  welfare agency said the footage had been provided to all MPs and senators.

It has lodged a legal complaint about the alleged abuse - the third in  two months following alleged breaches of regulations in Jordan and Mauritius.

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS), the largest cattle exporter  into Israel, self-reported potential breaches of Australia's live export  regulations in Gaza last month.

In a statement, LSS said: "Many of the identifiable features in online photos and footage are not exclusive to Australian cattle. LSS does not consider it appropriate, at this stage, to speculate and is urgently investigating these matters.

"LSS is also working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DAFF). Based on observation of ear tags in an online photo that may show an Australian animal, LSS has made a self-report to DAFF that there is potential for non-compliance with ESCAS [the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme] if some of the activities reported online involve Australian cattle in Gaza.

"LSS is absolutely committed to animal welfare and places great importance on establishing the accuracy of claims about poor practices that could relate to any Australian animals in countries to which the company exports or which could indicate issues within the supply chains that have been established under ESCAS."

LSS is already under investigation for  alleged breaches in Jordan in June and October.

AAP with