The export licence of one of Western Australia’s oldest livestock exporters, International Livestock Exports, the South East Asian export arm of Emanuel Exports, could be under threat as a result of footage released by Animals Australia this week.
The footage, showing mistreatment of cattle inside Indonesian abattoirs, aired on ABC Lateline on Tuesday.
ILE is believed to be the exporter responsible for at least one of the animals shown in the footage.
The Federal Government’s Export Supply Chain Accreditation System, introduced to improve animal welfare standards in the wake of televised footage of cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs last year, places the onus of responsibility for the welfare of all exported animals through until the point of slaughter on exporters.
Penalties for breaches of the ESCAS include conditions being placed on licenses, or the suspension or cancellation of a licence.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is currently investigating the footage supplied by Animals Australia last Friday, and will decide on penalties if it confirms that an Australian exporter has breached the ESCAS rules.
Emanuel Exports director Mike Stanton told Beef Central this afternoon that the company has suspended the operations of one abattoir within its accredited supply chain in Indonesia whilst the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry investigation is underway.
"The decision allows us to isolate one facility within our approved supply chain while the investigation proceeds, and is a demonstration of ILE’s commitment to ensuring ongoing compliance with the new regulatory frame work," Mr Stanton said.
The importer of the Australian animal believed to be involved was Indonesian-based Great Giant Livestock, one of the largest importers of Australian livestock into Indonesia.
For its part, DAFF says its investigations are continuing.
It has revealed today that its investigation has been broadened to include three Indonesian abattoirs, after it became clear that footage had been obtained from three facilities at two locations.
It has not yet been confirmed if other exporters or importers use the same facilities in their ESCAS chains.
DAFF deputy secretary Phillip Glyde said procedures were in place under the ESCAS to investigate allegations of animal welfare breaches and to take appropriate action where required.
“DAFF animal welfare experts, including Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, are assessing the footage for compliance with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare guidelines," Mr Glyde said.
“DAFF is working to ascertain if the animals in the footage are from Australia and if the facilities in the footage are part of approved supply chains.
“The investigation also includes assessing any relevant independent audits of the three abattoirs to compare with the detail of the footage provided.
“The Guidelines for management of non-compliance is being used to guide the investigation and potential actions on the licensed exporters. Possible compliance actions will depend on the findings of the investigation.
“The Australian and Indonesian Governments are cooperating closely to ensure that the investigation process is followed according to the mutual understanding between the two governments.
He added that DAFF had also provided the footage to the Indonesian government.
The Indonesian Government has also promised to investigate the matter, according to the Jakarta Post. Deputy agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan said the government would not try to cover anything up.
“We need to know where it happened and Australia needs to clarify the location with us. Before responding to the video, we need clarification,” he told reporters at a sustainable palm oil conference in Jakarta.