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Live cattle exports to Indonesia suspended

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image An Indonesian worker loads imported cattle from Australia into a truck in Jakarta yesterday

Australia yesterday suspended all live cattle exports to Indonesia for up to six months after a public outcry following shocking images of mistreatment in slaughterhouses.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the trade, worth Aus$318 million a year (USD 340 million), would not start again until safeguards were in place to ensure animal welfare in its northern neighbour.
“We need to establish sufficient safeguards to ensure exporters provide verifiable and transparent supply chain assurance up to, and including, the point of slaughter for every consignment that leaves Australia,” he said.
“It will take some time to ensure that we have got supply chain assurance in place.
The blanket ban comes a week after Canberra suspended live beef exports to 11 Indonesian abattoirs that featured in a report by Australian state television which showed gruesome images of cattle being abused.
Lyn White, the Animals Australia campaigner who shot the abuse aired by public broadcaster ABC, called for a wider ban on Australian live exports.
“We’ll continue campaigning that the broader trade should be banned,” she told ABC radio.
Sixty percent of Australia’s lucrative live cattle trade goes to Indonesia, with about 500,000 animals sent there each year.
While Jakarta has vowed to investigate, its concedes there are no regulations that could be used to sanction those found to be abusing animals.
“We’re fully aware that we have to improve animal welfare in our abattoirs,” Indonesian Agriculture ministry livestock department chief Prabowo Respatiyo Caturroso said yesterday.
He added that Jakarta may buy more beef from New Zealand to make up for shortfalls.
The Australian cattle industry has expressed shock at the treatment of its animals in Indonesia, but concerns are growing about the impact of a ban.
Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president Rohan Sullivan said it would devastate the industry and hurt farming families.
“If we stop exports to Indonesia, we are walking away from the millions of dollars that Australian producers have invested in infrastructure, training and improved animal husbandry,” he said.
“This doesn’t help the cattle who will continue to be processed, and just opens the door to imports from other countries which may not adopt our standards or spend what we do on animal welfare.”
Screen idol Brigitte Bardot pleaded with Australia yesterday to end the live export of animals for slaughter, amid public outcry over the treatment of cattle traded to Indonesia.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Bardot said cattle leaving Australia were “condemned to the worst mistreatment in Indonesian slaughterhouses”.
The star, whose Fondation Brigitte Bardot campaigns for animal rights, wrote that she had given her views about Australia’s cruelty to animals many times but these had been ignored with “total arrogance and insensitivity”.

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