A Liberal senator told today’s Senate inquiry into the live export industry that animal rights groups had paid Indonesian abattoir workers to abuse cattle to provide the footage that led to a ban on Australian exports.
The Senate Rural Affairs and Transport Committee is investigating animal welfare standards in the live export industry, following footage on ABC's Four Corners program which showed Australian cattle being subjected to brutality in Indonesian abattoirs.
Much of the footage used in the program, which triggered a Government decision to suspend all live exports to Indonesia for a month, was provided by animal rights group Animals Australia.
Liberal Senator from Western Australia, Chris Back, who is also a veterinarian, told today’s inquiry that an Australian source, who is a consultant to the export industry and a person considered “very reliable”, had visited an Indonesian abattoir in the days following filming by Animals Australia.
Senator Back said the source was told that a slaughterman was paid 150,000 Indonesian rupiah by a driver for Animals Australia to abuse Australian cattle in front of video cameras.
“The cameraman and the driver came to him and offered him 150,000 rupiah to kick the animal in the head repeatedly until they got the film they wanted,” Senator Back said.
“He did not want to do this for religious reasons but his family needed money so he did. He kicked it a number of times and then stopped. They asked him to keep going and he did.”
Following the live export controversy Senator Back said work at the abattoir had declined and the other workers had since turned on the slaughterman.
“He’s been beaten on a daily basis and unfortunately in retribution his wife and daughter have been raped and he’s now been ostracised from that community.”
Animals Australia investigator Lyn White said the suggestion that workers had been paid to inflict acts of deliberate cruelty to animals were “outrageous” and the story related by Senator Back “simply did not occur”..
“I find even the suggestion that that occurred to be very offensive, Senator,” she said.
Outside the hearing Ms White told the media the allegations were political.
“Well I think that there's certain parties that are trying to undermine us but I don't think in any way that they've been successful,” she told ABC radio.
“The evidence speaks for itself; our credibility over a number of years in providing evidence also speaks for itself.”