After the horrific unfolding of animal abuse in Indonesian slaughterhouse plants, Australia’s agriculture minister said on Monday he hoped the $340 million live cattle export trade with Indonesia would resume quickly, after it was suspended in the wake of an animal cruelty scandal.
Yeah what do you care, right? As long as the money keeps flowing.
Canberra halted live cattle exports to Indonesia for up to six months after an explosive documentary showing graphic acts of cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs was aired on Australian television last month.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig held talks with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Monday but did not reach an agreement to end the ban.
“Both of us see the mutually beneficial outcome of opening the live animal exports industry from Australia to Indonesia as soon as practicable,” he said, describing the talks as “very constructive”.
International standards that encourage stunning cattle before slaughter needed to be “operationalised” in Indonesian meatworks, he said.
“Where we are at the moment is working on ensuring that we have a live animal export industry for the longer term,” Ludwig said, as some lawmakers in Australia proposed ending the trade altogether.
“Focusing on that, we do have to ensure animal welfare outcomes are dealt with appropriately by our Indonesian counterparts.”
In a press conference on Monday evening, Ludwig said “the issue will not be resolved overnight”.
“It’s the beginning of the process, there is more works to be done,” he said.
Indonesian Agriculture Minister Suswono said the two countries had set up a joint team that would visit slaughterhouses and produce a new set of minimum standards for the treatment of Australian livestock.
Australia’s live exports to Indonesia make up about one-fifth of all the Southeast Asian nation’s growing beef consumption, and there have been reports of rising beef prices in the archipelago of 240 million people.
Ludwig said earlier that the trade, worth A$318 million a year (US$340 million), would not start again until safeguards were in place to ensure animals were slaughtered humanely.
The footage televised by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed Indonesian abattoir workers repeatedly slashing live cattle and subjecting them to extreme physical abuse before they were slaughtered.
Indonesia’s parliament passed a law on livestock welfare in 2009 but it has not been implemented and no sanctions are in place for abattoirs that mistreat animals, despite the mainly Muslim’s country’s concerns about halal butchering.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered an investigation into the abuse.
Australia’s livestock export industry last week presented a A$9 million plan to progressively re-open the trade using new systems to assure animal welfare, including increased stunning of animals and training for meatworks staff.
Green and independent members of the Australian parliament are proposing legislation aimed at ending the export of live animals for slaughter.