LABOR MPs have backed away from calling for mandatory stunning in a caucus debate on live exports yesterday.
A motion debated by Caucus yesterday included a clause calling for pre-slaughter stunning to become a mandatory condition for abattoirs processing Australian cattle from January 1, 2013.
However the motion was watered down during debate and amended to replace the call for mandatory stunning with a statement to express a "preference" for stunning instead. The motion was passed, but not unanimously.
Outspoken opponent of live exports, independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who’s recent bill calling for the trade to be abolished was comprehensively defeated in parliament, yesterday outlined his intention to introduce new legislation calling for all live exported animals to be protected from un-stunned slaughter.
"I held out hope that the Caucus would show genuine consideration for animal welfare and the overwhelming public pressure for reform, and was shocked to learn that stunning is considered an option rather than a necessity,” Mr Wilkie said in a press release yesterday.
Animals Australia said Labor’s decision to weaken its position from mandating stunning to encouraging stunning meant that Australian animals would continue to have their throats cut while fully conscious in foreign abattoirs.
“That Labor has again bowed to the interests of the live export industry, and failed to extend even the most basic protection to exported animals, is bitterly disappointing,” spokesperson Lyn White said.
Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig said he would not comment on Caucus matters, but added that calling for mandatory stunning was not a simple solution in export markets.
“On the issue of mandatory stunning, the fact is Australia cannot demand from foreign nations a standard that is not applied inside Australia," Mr Ludwig said.
“Simply mandating stunning will not solve the complex animal welfare concerns associated with the live export trade.”
The motion passed by Caucus also included a clause calling for new supply chain assurance conditions that apply to Indonesia to be extended to include all live export markets.
It also called on the Government to establish a new body to oversee the live export industry, to be made up of government, industry and animal welfare group representatives.