5 years of Australia' live export industry leaving its mark on the world.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 16 June 2016

On May 30, 2011, Australia awoke to the reality of live export. Animals Australia’s investigation revealing terrified Australian cattle being brutally killed in Indonesian slaughterhouses was featured in the award-winning Four Corners exposé, ‘A Bloody Business’. Widespread outrage at the harrowing scenes of trembling, bellowing cattle being cruelly slaughtered was compounded by revelations that the industry and government had not only known about the cruelty — but had actively facilitated the suffering of Australian animals in Indonesia for ten years.

After decades of operation, the live export industry was forced to publicly respond to animal welfare concerns. The cruelty to cattle in Indonesia was so extreme that the Australian government was left with no choice but to temporarily suspend the trade — and for the first time ever, laws were introduced that promised to protect animals exported for slaughter from the very worst abuses.

Problem is, the laws don’t work.

Since their introduction, these regulations (called the ‘Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System’, aka ESCAS) have been flouted by some exporters, in EVERY single live export market — and the Australian government has consistently failed to enforce its own laws. Five years later, animals are STILL suffering extreme abuse.

But you won’t hear that from live export apologists. Astoundingly, this industry’s response to just about every exposé of extreme animal abuse is to talk about how sending live animals overseas to be killed is positively influencing animal welfare.

[PLUGIN type="quotation" quote="People are pleased to see Australia stepping up to the plate and having this influence globally on animal welfare." author="Alison Penfold, CEO Australian Livestock Exporters Council, 30 May 2015″]

Let’s take a look back at the last five years to see what’s happened since these regulations were introduced – and get a snapshot of exactly how the live export industry is ‘influencing’ animal welfare around the world:

Live export in 2012.jpg

  • Pakistan: 20,000 Australian sheep brutally massacred in Pakistan. One by one they were stabbed, clubbed and buried alive. Some still alive hours later.
  • Indonesia: 61 regulation breaches documented in only 3 nights – including extreme cruelty to cattle, who were being cut up while still alive.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold at notoriously cruel market. Throats sawn open.
  • Qatar: Heavily pregnant cows endure gruelling journey. A quarter of mothers and calves die of neglect within a week of arriving. 7000 sheep and lambs die from heat stress and malnutrition.

Live export in 2013.jpg

  • Mauritius: Heavily pregnant cows illegally shipped, false declarations made in official reports. Cows suffer during notoriously rough sea journey, some calves born, cows die in feedlot after arriving.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold (again) at cruel livestock market. Stuffed into car boots,throats cut while fully conscious on make-shift slaughter slabs.
  • Egypt: Cattle stabbed in eyes, leg tendons slashed, butchered while still alive.
  • Malaysia: Goats stuffed into bags and car boots, ear tags removed (to hide evidence of export regulation breaches), throats cut while fully conscious.
  • Lebanon: Sheep illegally sent from Jordan to Lebanon, a country not approved to import Australian animals. Found by investigators in car park to be sold for private slaughter.
  • Jordan: Deliberate, widespread and systemic illegal on-selling of Australian sheep at 26 unapproved locations for un-stunned private slaughter.
  • Israel: Sheep hit, kicked, punched and thrown from live export ships.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold (again) at notoriously cruel market. Distressed animals dragged, thrown, trussed, stuffed into car boots and having their throats brutally cut while fully conscious.
  • Jordan: Systemic and widespread breaches. Sheep violently thrown, dragged, stomped on, throats sawn while fully conscious.
  • Mauritius: Terrified and exhausted cattle dragged on and off trucks, tied to walls and left to struggle, tied by their legs and violently pulledto the ground, throats cut while fully conscious.
  • Gaza: Cattle stabbed in the eye, kicked and punched, tied up, kneecapped with assault rifles.

Live export in 2014.jpg

  • Jordan: Two investigations just months apart document sheep illegally sold in unapproved livestock markets and subjected to cruel fully-conscious slaughter.
  • Gaza: Ear tags removed in attempt to hide evidence after 2013 investigation. Cattle have tendons slashed, metal files driven into their eye sockets, throats slashed to weaken them to the point of collapse through blood loss.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold (again) at notoriously cruel market. Animals panting in distress during 50 degree days, stuffed into car boots, dragged onto concrete slabs, into private residences and local abattoirs – all to face cruel un-stunned slaughter.
  • Gaza: Over a thousand more Australian cattle transferred from Israel to Gaza, despite some of the worst animal abuse ever being documented there on two previous occasions. Regulatory action in the form of a government order stating no animals are to be transferred to Gaza proven completely useless.
  • Jordan: Regulations flouted (again), sheep illegally sold for ‘sacrifice’, bound, dragged through streets, stuffed into car boots, subjected to fully conscious slaughter.
  • Malaysia: Gentle steers have their legs bound and are brutally slaughtered in the streets while fully conscious.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold (again) at cruel market. Extreme distress of sheep enduring heat stress – panting and drooling uncontrollably in 42 degree heat. Animals illegally sold privately for fully-conscious slaughter. Horrific images of sheep being killed inside filthy abattoir ‘approved’ by live export industry.
  • Gaza: Yet more Australian cattle endure extreme distress and abuse, dragged off utes, stabbed, tied up, tormented and brutally slaughtered in the streets while fully-conscious.

Live export in 2015.jpg

  • Vietnam: Cattle sledgehammered to death. Animals wince, tremble and bellow loudly as they are struck again and again. Industry and Australian government knowledge of sledgehammering dates back to 2013 but exports to Vietnam continued. Industry responds with “crisis meeting" when sledgehammering is made public, and yet Animals Australia investigators document more Australian cattle being sledgehammered to death just months later.
  • Israel: Hidden cameras reveal routine abuse of Australian animals – notoriously cruel full inversion slaughter box in use, cattle tipped upside down, panicked, throats sawn open, hoisted to the ceiling by one leg while fully conscious, tails broken, animals slipping and choking on their own blood. This, at a slaughterhouse given the ‘tick of approval’ by live exporters and the Australian government.
  • Kuwait: Sheep illegally sold (again) at the same cruel livestock market. Australian Government advised of this prior to the looming ‘Festival of Sacrifice’. No action taken. In fact 3 further live export shipments are allowed to leave from Australia to Kuwait. Months later, thousands of sheep inevitably endure cruel handling, are stuffed into car boots during scorching heat, throats cut while fully conscious. Dying sheep piled up on top of each other as they bled to death.

Live export in 2016.jpg

  • Vietnam: Terrorised cattle sledgehammered to death, butchered while still alive, and exposed to painful water-forcing (“flooding") practices. Clear evidence of corruption of traceability systems exposed by Animals Australia investigators ignored by the Department of Agriculture, and CCTV cameras failing dismally to protect animals from abuse.

We've come an enormous way in just a few years - Alison Penfold, Former CEO ALEC

What will the future bring … ?

History has shown that as long as live animals are sent overseas to be slaughtered, they will suffer — either on ships in the open ocean or in countries where there are no laws to protect them from cruelty. While extreme and systemic animal abuse continues to be exposed by public-funded investigations, the industry’s PR machine also continues — as does its push to expand its cruel trade into yet more countries.

Don’t let them get away with it.

Contact your MP — tell them that as long as Australia sends animals to cruel treatment and fully conscious slaughter, our nation is giving a ‘seal of approval’ to animal abuse and suffering in other countries.

The only thing that will ensure that the well-being of all animals is truly prioritised and that will signal a clear need for change is when Australian animals are withdrawn from the global live export trade on welfare grounds.