Claims add to export ban case

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Workers make preparations for cattle to be slaughtered in an abattoir in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Camera IconWorkers make preparations for cattle to be slaughtered in an abattoir in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Getty Images.

A leading animal welfare campaigner has reopened old wounds over the ban on live cattle shipments to Indonesia in an explosive new book.

RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones reveals a key player in the anti-live export movement tried to show the Federal Government harrowing footage of cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs before it was made public in 2011.

It is alleged Simon Sheikh, the founder of GetUp, offered to show the footage to then-prime minister Julia Gillard’s office but the offer was rejected.

The film was broadcast by the ABC’s Four Corners weeks later, causing a public outcry. The Gillard government reacted by imposing a snap ban on all cattle exports to Indonesia.

Revelations that the government had a chance to act sooner and avoid the crisis could boost the claims of pastoralists pursuing a multimillion-dollar damages claim in the Federal Court.

Dr Jones is scathing of the current Government and its oversight of the exporter supply chain assurance scheme which was introduced after the ban.

“Despite 90 reports of non-compliance over the last four years, across 16 countries ... not one exporter has been prosecuted or restricted in their capacity to export more animals,” she writes. “In not one case so far have even multiple major non-compliances resulted in the removal of an exporter’s licence or in any criminal prosecutions.”

Dr Jones said Australia should follow New Zealand’s lead in abandoning live exports to focus on domestic processing.

She questioned the Government’s focus on opening live exports of slaughter cattle to China given it is a market worth $1.3 billion a year to Australian meat processors.

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