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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : Export News Tasmania December 16, 2012, 05:21:16 PM

: Cattle footage throws fresh questions on live exports
: Export News Tasmania December 16, 2012, 05:21:16 PM
New accusations of cattle mistreatment


An investigation is underway following allegations of an Israeli abattoir mistreating Australian livestock.

AGRICULTURE Minister Joe Ludwig has again been forced to defend his animal welfare protections in Australia's $1 billion live export trade in the wake of new shocking footage of cattle being abused in Israel. 

Senator Ludwig this morning said that the images that aired on ABC's 7:30 last night were "distressing" but said an investigation into the incident was only possible under the new rules.

The footage, obtained by an undercover Israeli journalist, shows sheep being beaten and thrown, while injured cattle are seen being shocked repeatedly with an electric prodder around the face and eyes.

The images were allegedly captured at Bakar Tnuva abattoir in September, just months after it was audited as part of the Gillard government's new regime and given approval to receive Australian exports.

It is being investigated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in line with a criminal probe in Israel.

The latest footage comes after The Australian revealed brutal practices were used to slaughter 21,000 sheep in Pakistan in September, and Four Corners aired footage showing the sheep being beaten and dragged, having their throats sawn with blunt knives and being thrown into pits, some still alive.

"Australia does not condone the mistreatment of livestock. We expect international animal welfare standards be met and are the only country in the world to require these standards be applied for the animals we export," Senator Ludwig told The Australian.

Despite the fact the mistreatment was exposed by an undercover journalist, Senator Ludwig insists an investigation into the alleged cruelty is only possible due to the closed-supply system introduced in the wake of the Indonesia live cattle crisis last year.

"This investigation is only possible because of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System now in place," he said. "The investigation will determine if the livestock in the footage were exported after the date ESCAS was applied to the Israeli market."

The government introduced a new closed-supply system last year in the wake of the Indonesian live cattle crisis. Live cattle exports to Indonesia were banned temporarily in June last year after the ABC's Four Corners aired footage of cattle being mistreated at an Indonesian abattoir.

The month-long ban cost 326 jobs in northern Australia and left at least 274,000 animals stranded.

Exporters now have to provide an audit to get an abattoir approved to receive Australian animals. The new rules came into force for vessels departing Australia for Israel after September 1.

The abattoir was audited in July by an exporter seeking to include it in its supply chain, with the published report saying it complied with animal welfare standards and the only issue was a "rusty gate causing excessive noise".

RSPCA Australia chief scientist Bidda Jones said in a statement the footage showed a severe case of animal cruelty.

"The workers are deliberately inflicting pain on injured animals in order to get them to move," she said. "If this facility was in Australia the community would expect government to shut it down."

Dr Jones said Israel media was reporting that Israeli police had opened a criminal investigation into the incident. (