Cruelty and corruption flourish in live export trade under Australian government’s watch

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 16 June 2016


Tonight a new Animals Australia investigation revealed Australian cattle exported to Vietnam are being sledgehammered to death, butchered while still alive, and remain at grave risk of brutal treatment.

Animals Australia said the Australian Department of Agriculture is hopelessly conflicted in its role as the regulator and promoter of the live export trade and it must be stripped of its regulatory responsibilities.

“Under Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s watch, thousands of Australian cattle exported to Vietnam continue to be exposed to brutal sledgehammering and painful water-forcing practices," said Animals Australia’s Chief Investigator, Lyn White.

“Nobody can claim they didn’t know this was happening — the exporters knew, the Department knew and the Minister knew."

“Now tonight, Australians have been shown that the current system does not work and will continue to fail as long as the Department of Agriculture turns a blind eye to what is in effect ‘organised crime’. All export companies are aware of what is going on in Vietnam and yet remain silent to protect their interests."

“Some exporters think they are above the law — and they have good reason to — as regardless of what they do, they know that Barnaby Joyce and his Department will have their back."

“The terror and trauma experienced by Australian cattle being sledgehammered is devastating. That this horrific practice continues to be inflicted on Australian animals three years after the government was first provided with evidence of this occurring is shameful."

“The clear evidence of corruption of traceability systems in Vietnam being ignored by the Department of Agriculture and CCTV failing to protect animals from abuse, reinforce the desperate need for live export regulation to be moved to an independent body."

Animals Australia investigators have again documented extensive live export regulation breaches throughout Vietnam, including:

  • the brutal sledgehammering to death of Australian cattle;
  • Australian cattle in 11 non-accredited abattoirs, including in a notorious slaughter village where sledgehammering and water-forcing are prevalent;
  • the routine removal of ear tags so animals cannot be linked back to the exporter legally responsible for them; and
  • cattle being crudely killed and butchered in both Australian accredited and non-accredited abattoirs in filthy, unhygienic conditions.

The Department’s own online records reveal the traceability system in Vietnam has been corrupted, yet they continue to allow exporters to flood the country with cattle. There have been 20 separate reports to the Department detailing ongoing breaches.

  • Last year, Australian cattle that the Department was told were in Vietnam, were later found in Guangzhou in China.
  • In another instance, the Department was told that 882 cattle removed from one approved supply chain, were humanely killed in another. Evidence provided by Animals Australia revealed these animals were in fact sledgehammered to death.

“Australian cattle found outside supply chains during this investigation would add up to some 10,000 animals over a year being trucked and killed in breach of live export laws. Industry informants state that up to 30,000 cattle annually are either being illegally trucked into China or killed in traditional slaughterhouses in Vietnam."

“Barnaby Joyce cannot shirk responsibility for the ongoing horrific slaughter of Australian cattle in Vietnam. It is Minister Joyce who has fostered an industry that considers itself above the law."

“The live export industry will trot out their well-worn excuses but they stand guilty of year after year supplying animals to horrific cruelty."

“They know the issues in Vietnam are widespread. The only appropriate industry response is to voluntarily suspend the trade until they can publicly declare that Australian animals are not at risk of further abuse," said Ms White.