WARNING: This story contains graphic images that some readers may find distressing.
Footage provided to the department reportedly shows cattle — at least four of which are understood to be from the Northern Territory — being pulled to the ground with ropes and killed, without first being stunned.
Animals Australia filed a complaint about the incident to the department for a breach of Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements on August 13, and said the slaughter took place during the Festival of Sacrifice in a carpark near a mosque in North Sumatra.
ESCAS was introduced after the 2011 live export ban to ensure positive animal welfare outcomes for Australian livestock sent overseas.
The Perth-based company responsible for the export of the cattle, International Livestock Exports (ILE), has suspended the ESCAS-approved facility where the cattle were originally shipped, pending the outcome of the department’s investigation.
ILE said in a statement “the person responsible for the misappropriation of cattle has been terminated”.
The company found out about the incident on August 14, provided an interim report to the department on August 28, and will issue a final report on September 13.
“It is deeply concerning that Australian Cattle have once again been subjected to roping slaughter in Indonesia, and that the only reason this has become known, is because of the efforts of a charity,” Animals Australia said in a statement.
“ESCAS was established to prevent such horrific treatment.
“The fact that it can still occur speaks to the ever-present risks of exporting animals and losing control over how they are treated.”
The Department of Agriculture told ABC Rural it does not comment on investigations that are in progress.
Industry says response was swift
NT Livestock Exporters’ Association CEO Will Evans said that while the incident was “very concerning”, ILE still had the backing of the live export industry.
“The reality is that we always have to be on top of our game and we always have to be protecting our supply chains,” Mr Evans said.
“Unfortunately there was a failure in the system and we moved very quickly to see that addressed.”
CEO of Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC), Mark Harvey-Sutton, said he understood why cattle producers might be concerned about the incident.
“But the message I put to producers is we are very good at what we do,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.
“We are excellent in terms of our supply.
“Indonesia is one of our longest and most trusted supply partners.
“We have a very good track record and a good partnership with Indonesian importers.
“Unfortunately this incident has happened, but it is the exception, not the rule.”
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association CEO Emma White applauded the industry’s response.
“As soon as the industry body at the national level, ALEC, and the relevant live exporters worked through what might have occurred, they certainly leapt into action immediately,” Ms White said.
“So while it’s not good this has happened … what it’s demonstrated is that industry’s very much been on the front foot, and when allegations have come to light they’ve moved swiftly and quickly to take clear and concise action to ensure an appropriate response is in place.”
ILE is responsible for about 70 per cent of Broome’s live cattle exports, however Emma White did not believe it was cause for concern for local producers.
The Northern Territory pastoralist who supplied the cattle to ILE has been informed of the incident by the exporter and industry bodies.
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