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DAFF dismisses Animals Australia livex cruelty claim

James Nason, 07/02/2013

Government officials investigating complaints by Animals Australia that Australian cattle were slaughtered using cruel practices in Indonesia last September have dismissed the complaint based on a lack of evidence.   

Animals Australia lodged a complaint with the Department of Agriculture on October 8 last year, alleging that on the night of September 27-28, a truckload of Australian cattle were slaughtered in an abattoir in West Java using traditional slaughter methods.

The animal rights group claimed the incident represented a failure by Australian exporters to comply with animal welfare requirements under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

The abattoir where the alleged incident occurred is approved for use in the supply chains of four Australian exporters, Australian Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Austrex); Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Wellard);  Halleen Australasian Livestock Traders (HALT) and International Livestock Export Pty Ltd (ILE).

In a report summarising the findings of its investigation, released Thursday evening, DAFF said it was unable to find any evidence, other than the complaint lodged by the animal rights group, to support the allegations.

No photographic evidence was provided to support the complaint, and the informants were not prepared to make themselves available to investigators.

DAFF said it requested contact details for the witness upon whose information the allegation was based, however the complainant, Animals Australia, had been unwilling to provide this information to DAFF due to its belief that the witness’s safety might be compromised.

The DAFF report said the abattoir in question had at least two slaughter lines like many in Indonesia – one that is used to process Australian cattle according to ESCAS standards, and at least one other that is used to process locally sourced cattle.

The investigators determined that cattle from Wellard Rural Exports were being processed in the abattoir on the night of the alleged incident, and that the Australian cattle in the plant had been slaughtered in the approved slaughter line in accordance with the animal welfare performance measures and targets of ESCAS.

“No evidence other than that provided by the complainant suggested that any cattle sourced locally or from Australia were slaughtered in the abattoir in the traditional manner on the night of 27-28 September 2012,” the investigators concluded.

“After considering documentary evidence from auditors, exporters and other parties, the investigation has concluded that all of the cattle sourced from Australia and exported under ESCAS were slaughtered in the abattoir in accordance with the animal welfare performance measures and targets of ESCAS on the night of 27-28 September 2012.

“In the absence of evidence to the contrary, DAFF has concluded that there is no substantiated non-compliance with ESCAS animal welfare performance measures and targets.”

The report said investigators had determined that there was no reason for DAFF to take regulatory action against any of the exporters (Austrex, Wellard, HALT and ILE) as none of the exporters had breached the conditions of their approved ESCAS.

DAFF is currently conducting investigations into allegations of ESCAS breaches in Pakistan, Kuwait, Mauritius, Israel, and Qatar. 

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