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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News September 07, 2012, 09:36:08 AM

: Livestock cruelty allegation forces exports probe 6.9.2012
: WA Export News September 07, 2012, 09:36:08 AM
   Date September 7, 2012    Richard Willingham        ( A photo taken at the Kuwait market. Photo: Animal Australia

LIVESTOCK exporters are being investigated after allegations that Australian sheep are being illegally sold and slaughtered in an inhumane way at a notorious Kuwait market.

It is the second major Agriculture Department investigation since strict new  animal welfare rules were implemented after  last year's cattle slaughter controversy in Indonesia.

Animals Australia lodged the complaint after the animal protection  organisation's   Kuwaiti investigator discovered exported sheep were being sold in non-approved markets and killed in makeshift abattoirs, with slaughtermen ignoring international killing guidelines.

The case has again raised concerns from activists, Labor backbenchers, the Greens and independents that the new rules rely too much on  self-regulation by the industry.

Exporters now must comply with rules that assure high animal welfare standards from farm to slaughter. All animals are tracked so officials know that animals are slaughtered in approved facilities.

Exporters must have supply chains independently audited, with the audit results  given to the Agriculture Department.

Animals Australia's lead campaigner,  Lyn White,  said hundreds of Australian sheep were sold last month at the non-approved Al-Rai market in Kuwait City,   the  market where she uncovered cruelty in 2010.

Describing the killing of a sheep, she said:  ''With the buyer and [his] family crowded into the room to observe, the handling of this sheep included dragging it over and placing it next to and then on top of other just-slaughtered sheep  to prepare it for the throat cut.''

She said the slaughterman used a knife that was too short, with a fast sawing action, not the quick ''sticking'' of the neck required by international rules.

Ms White said  the offences were ''critical non-compliances'' that could  lead to criminal sanctions, adding that the fact  that hundreds of Australian sheep were seen at four different sites on two days showed  a ''systematic and deliberate breach''.

''The government will no doubt again say that this shows the system is working but how can that be the case when breaches are only being reported by Animals Australia.''
Emanuel Exports and its sister company International Livestock Exports are the only businesses currently exporting to Kuwait. Emanuel Exports would not comment until the investigation was finished.

Earlier this year two exporters were found to have breached the rules in Indonesia after Animals Australia investigations.

Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson said he would  raise questions about the case when Parliament resumes next week.

''The selling and slaughter of animals outside approved supply chains is a serious breach of the new system and exporters who allow it should have their export licence taken off them,''
Mr Thomson said.

Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie will introduce a bill in Parliament on Monday to mandate pre-slaughter stunning of all Australian animals overseas.

He said this case made a ''mockery'' of the government's efforts to clean up the trade.

An Agriculture Department spokesman said the  investigation would take  weeks.