Live Export

Live export ship worker tells media he was paid for animal cruelty pictures

Beef Central, September 11, 2019

A Pakistani live export ship worker has told Australian media he was paid several thousands of dollars by animal activists to gather evidence of animal cruelty.

In a video interview broadcast on Sky News last week, Pakistani seafarer Mahmood Raza Masher said he was paid to film suffering sheep aboard the Awassi Express to pressure the government to shut down the trade.

An image from the Sky News interview

He told the program the vision he shot was given to Animals Australia and used in the 2018 60 Minutes report that led to tough regulatory crackdowns on sheep exports to the Middle East and the removal of Emanuel Exports’ export license.

Animals Australia has repeatedly denied it paid for the footage (see its detailed response below).

In July the Department of Agriculture said its investigation into News Limited reports in January 2019 that activists paid cash to ship workers aboard the Awassi Express in return for footage of cruelty found no evidence to suggest breaches of Commonwealth laws had been committed in relation to alleged payments.

Last week the Daily Telegraph built on its earlier articles by reporting the accounts of Mr Mazher, who claims he was working with whistle-blower Fazal Ullah, who featured in the 60 Minutes story, to earn money via activist organisations.

Mr Mazher told the newspaper he now feels he has a “moral obligation” to speak out and is offering to return the cash.

He also told the Daily Telegraph the Department of Agriculture investigation into the “cash for cruelty” scandal did not interview him, despite his attempts to contact the government.

In the reports he alleged Mr Ullah, who he said was his friend and housemate, approached him in July 2016 and told him Australian animal activist groups would pay $20,000 for footage of animals suffering.

The Daily Telegraph said it had received a tranche of emails showing how animal activists, including Lyn White, “cultivated whistle-blowers on board live export vessels, offering them cash for vision of cruelty to animals”.

Mr Mazher told News Limited  live cattle exports were “treated better than crew members on board”, are properly fed and watered and if animals are ever sick, they are treated by a vet.

In response to the reports, an Animals Australia spokesperson told Beef Central all of the matters have already been considered by the Department of Agriculture as part of its investigation.

“Unlike others, Animals Australia cooperated fully with this investigation. Our conduct has been professional, ethical and appropriate at all times.

“It is clearly in the interests of defenders of the live export trade to seek to undermine those who’ve played a key role in the reporting of previously undisclosed animal cruelty and suffering.

“Animals Australia’s priority, has been and remains, ensuring the protection and well-being of industry whistle-blowers who are supporting government investigations.

“Animals Australia stands by its significant record of investigating and reporting cruelty in the live export trade. Without the regulatory changes that resulted, Australian cattle would still be subjected to tendon-slashing and sledge-hammering in foreign abattoirs and sheep at risk of cooking alive on live export vessels.

“Animals Australia will continue to play an active role supporting the regulator of the live trade – a role acknowledged by the Moss review as providing improved oversight and compliance across the live animal export trade. Vision provided last month to the Department of Agriculture of Australian cattle being subjected to horrific roping slaughter in Indonesia speaks to the importance of that role.”

In response to questions about the newly raised allegations, the Federal Department of Agriculture said it released a full statement on July 26 addressing these issues.

“The department sought information from a wide range of sources in relation to these allegations, some of whom cooperated and others who chose not to,” a Departmental spokesperson said.

“The department has concluded its investigation into this matter and has not found any evidence to suggest that breaches of Commonwealth laws have been committed in relation to alleged payments.”

 

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Comments

  1. Fiona McCoy, September 14, 2019

    How is it that creating life threatening situations to livestock is not an criminal offence. This individual has committed animal cruelty, then industrial sabotage for financial gain. Then the organization who contacted him to do so is not facing animal cruelty and again industrial sabotage. Let’s call a spade a spade, both should be facing jail on the two areas named. This was an intentional act to mislead the Australian public and destroy the lives of thousands of Australians lives.

  2. Terry Marlin, September 12, 2019

    Animals Australia exposed the export industry’s dirty secret. Now the billion dollar industry is attempting to discredit the charity – despite the reality of the extreme suffering and death on the ships.

  3. Blazley Wade, September 11, 2019

    Am I missing something here?

    Is there an inference that the cruelty, that was recorded on several occasions, was some how orchestrated? Assuming the evidence is accurate; who cares if the guys who filmed it received a financial reward. I’ve no doubt they won’t be welcome back into the industry.

    • George Willows, September 11, 2019

      $20,000 payment to a person on crewman’s wages who was responsible for the welfare of the stock, to provide evidence of maltreatment and that is not relevant? You are definitely missing something here Blazley.

    • Jenny James, September 11, 2019

      Well I think you could be missing he who wants the 20g only has to shut some vents for an hour and he will easily get plenty of great photos. The way a car heat up with no aircon and windows shut, 15mins would probably do the job.
      Reckon he could easily stage lots of trial runs to see how how lont he had to leave the vents shut to get the worst video possible.

      • Katrina Love, September 13, 2019

        So Jenny – I guess you’re suggesting that the Australian vet and the many Australian stockpersons on board were in on it too and just ignored the alarms that go off when the ventilation systems are not working. Even without alarms, do you not think that if they were NOT in on it, they might have noticed that ventilation systems that are so loud they can be heard from a kilometre away when ships are in port, were suddenly turned off?

        It’s absurd to suggest that anything that could contribute to the deaths of 2,400 sheep and the suffering of tens of thousands more, could be done surreptitiously right under the noses of the AAV and Aussie stockpersons.

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