SYDNEY, June 6 (Reuters) - Australia’s cattle industry on Monday put forward a plan aimed at reducing the suffering of live cattle sent to Indonesia for slaughter following controversy over the A$320 million ($344 million) trade.
Canberra suspended live cattle exports to 11 Indonesian abattoirs last week after Australian national television aired footage of cattle being beaten, whipped and kicked prior to slaughter in Indonesia. [ID:nL3E7GV0SZ]
Industry group, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), said under its plan cattle would only be supplied to 25 accredited Indonesian slaughter houses currently meeting World Organisation for Animal Health standards.
The international organisation is also known as OIE and is headquartered in Paris.
The industry plan came as debate about live animal exports continued to rage a week after the graphic footage was broadcast of Australian cattle being inhumanely slaughtered in Indonesia.
Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie said on Monday he would introduce private legislation into parliament to outlaw the live animal export trade within three years.
“Australia must stop all live animal exports to Indonesia, and we should move to phasing out the entire live animal export industry within three years,” Wilkie told reporters in Canberra.
Under the MLA plan, animal welfare officers would be permanently stationed at the accredited facilities to ensure processing consistently meet international standards.
“Our solution commits to the reduction of trade to a core group of facilities in Indonesia accredited to meet World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards,” said MLA chairman Don Healey in statement.
The industry conducted a preliminary audit of 100 Indonesian slaughterhouses that had been receiving the majority of Australian cattle.
The audit revealed five modern facilities, using approved techniques, including the stunning of cattle before slaughter, and a further 20 that consistently met OIE standards but were not using stunning techniques.
“This step will ensure that only the best 25 facilities receive our cattle,” said Heatley.
He added the 25 abattoirs currently accounted for around 40 percent of Australian cattle sent to Indonesia.
Australia exports about 500,000 head of cattle a year to Indonesia, representing 60 percent of its live cattle trade. (Reporting by Bruce Hextall and James Grubel in Canberra; Editing by Ed Davies)