IN THE NEWS: MPs renew push for stunning in export abattoirs

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IN THE NEWS: On MAR 1, 2012

Government MPs have seized on new footage showing cattle being mistreated in Indonesian abattoirs to renew a push for mandatory pre-slaughter stunning of all exported Australian animals.

The footage, shot by investigators working for Animals Australia, was taken in late January and features a slaughterman stabbing the face of a cow with a blunt metal file while it is in a restraint box.

Animals Australia says it is confident the abattoir is part of an accredited supply chain.

Labor MPs including Melissa Parke, Steve Gibbons, Kelvin Thomson, Steve Georganas and Tony Zappia said the footage again highlighted the need for stunning, with some saying the industry needed to be shut down permanently, a move they say would benefit local jobs.

''It shows the fragility of the industry. This problem is entirely a problem of their own making,'' Ms Parke said.

Mr Thomson said: ''Any exporter that is found to have allowed their animals to be treated that way should have their licences suspended. Killing without stunning has no place in the 21st century.''

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig was unavailable for interview yesterday but in response to emailed questions said the government was holding the export industry to account and for the first time action can be taken against guilty exporters.

''We have a system in place that now allows us to identify supply chains, identify animals, and identify exporters. As I said when I announced the roll out of the regulatory system, errors may occur,'' he said.

Senator Ludwig recommitted the government to encouraging stunning - stunning is not part of international standards.

Deputy secretary of the agriculture department Phillip Glyde said the investigation was ongoing and was yet to determine whether the abattoirs were part of an approved supply chain. ''Some of the animals look like they are Australian, some look local,'' Mr Glyde said.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said the footage ''reinforces the folly of thinking that we here in Australia can control how every animal is killed overseas''.

''I don't think the minister has really covered himself with glory, this is a minister who has been captured by the industry. The minister should be responsible for standing up for animal welfare,'' he said.

But industry backed the new regulatory regime saying it was important to let the agriculture department investigation run its course. Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association chief executive Luke Bowen said there had been a quantum leap from the unregulated situation last year to the new system. ''We want to see the bugs ironed out of this. Producers want to see their animals treated properly.''

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