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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News May 18, 2012, 11:34:55 PM

: Government under pressure to demand cattle stunning. ABC 18.5.2012
: WA Export News May 18, 2012, 11:34:55 PM
The Federal Government is under renewed pressure from within its own ranks to demand all Australian cattle sent to Indonesia are stunned first before they are slaughtered.

[attach=#1] Photo: Stunning pressure: activist and MPs want more done to ensure stunning practices are regulated. (Supri: Reuters)

The Agriculture Department has tightened controls for two exporters, the North Australian Cattle Company and International Livestock Export, as a result of video footage aired on Lateline in February that revealed animal cruelty in four Indonesian abattoirs.

The Government insists its action shows the regulatory system is working, but animal welfare advocates and some concerned Labor MPs say that is not the case.

They say the breaches only came to light when activists went public with footage of the cruelty.

Labor MP Steve Georganas says he takes issue with the fact that the breaches were not brought to light through self-regulation.

"I think at some point we have to sit and look at the entire industry, the way they're operating and how we ensure that we take the cruelty out of this industry," he said.

"I'm pleased that the problem has been brought to the attention of the Government but as we've said over and over again, we know that these incidences are occurring far too often and that's where the concern is."

Lyn White from Animals Australia, the organisation which obtained the footage of cruelty in the Indonesian abattoirs, says the regulatory system is fundamentally floored.

"I think the flaws are so clearly shown in the system that it took Animals Australia once again to highlight breaches and bring them to the attention of the Government before action was taken," she said.

"Any system that is reliant on a charity to be its watchdog simply cannot be relied upon to protect the welfare of animals."

Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson, who has long campaigned for mandatory stunning of cattle before they are slaughtered, says the companies should have had their licences suspended or cancelled.

"In my view 37 breaches is way too many and the two exporters should have their licences suspended or even cancelled," he said.

"I note that the Department's deputy secretary has said that if further animal welfare breaches occur they would face the possible loss of their export licence but you have to wonder how many chances they get.

"When the trade was resumed last year after being suspended, the Government said the industry was on notice. So I think the public would expect that any exporters still found to be treating animals inhumanely would be run out of the industry."

By Alexandra Kirk

Updated May 18,