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‘Cruel and vicious’ treatment of cattle in Gaza sparks Labor call to ban exports




 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Cruel and vicious’ treatment of cattle in Gaza sparks Labor call to ban exports” was written by Oliver Milman, for theguardian.com on Thursday 12th December 2013 01.43 UTC

Labor has called for the suspension of selected animal export licences in the wake of harrowing new footage of “cruel and vicious” treatment of Australian cattle in Gaza.

The footage, filmed by local civilians and uploaded to YouTube, shows cattle tied to poles, trees and vehicles before being stabbed in the neck and eyes. One animal was kneecapped by bullets fired from an assault rifle.

Animals Australia said the footage, filmed during a ritual called the “festival of sacrifice”, was some of the worst seen in a series of animal welfare outrages involving Australian cattle.

The animal welfare group has sent the footage to MPs and senators and has lodged a legal complaint about alleged breaches of the live export code. It is the third such complaint in three months, following similar scenes of cruelty in Jordan and Mauritius.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the Australian firm Livestock Shipping Services is the only supplier with an approved supply chain into the Palestinian territories.

Animals Australia is calling for the live export trade to be scrapped entirely. Neither the Coalition nor Labor supports this stance, although the opposition agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, said export permits for some firms should be suspended while investigations were carried out.

Plans for an interim ban on the trade were voted down in federal parliament on Thursday, Australian Associated Press reported.

Labor senators voted with the Coalition to overturn a Greens motion calling for the cessation of exports until an investigation into previous welfare issues was complete.

The Department of Agriculture was looking into 14 complaints regarding breaches of standards as set out in the Export Control Act, the Greens said.

Three of the matters involved allegations of “cruel slaughter” by large export companies, the Senate was told.

The motion was voted down by 44 votes to nine.

Calling the footage “confronting” and “distressing”, Fitzgibbon said the latest revelations of cruelty could “undermine public confidence in what is a very, very important industry for this country”.

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

White said there was now “extensive evidence” that Australian animals were being subjected to cruelty and that regulations, in the form of the exporter supply chain assurance system, were ineffective.

Under the regulations, Australian suppliers have to ensure the welfare of animals throughout the supply chain by transferring them to approved facilities where they are humanely culled.

“This is what Australian exporters have been exporting animals to for decades,” White said. “It is time for every politician to search their consciences as to how they can allow this trade to continue.”

The UK-based group Compassion in World Farming said Australia’s live export trade was responsible for “massive animal suffering”.

Its chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson, said: “I have worked in this field for over 20 years and have never witnessed slaughter practices as cruel and vicious as those inflicted on Australian cattle in Gaza. Compassion in World Farming calls on Australia to now end its ruthless live export trade.”

 

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