Kuwait live exports under attack

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
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Animals Australia (AA) has asked the Federal Government to suspend live exports to Kuwait and ban the on-selling of Australian livestock for home slaughter.

The group made its push after the ABC’s 7.30 Report featured a story last week that showed footage taken by AA of inhumane treatment of sheep during the Eid festival in Kuwait.

The story showed images of sheep being packed three-deep in stifling temperatures in car boots, while some animals had their feet tied and were dragged around.

AA spokeswoman Lyn White said the latest footage was all the evidence the industry and Government needed to shut down the trade, citing similar footage in 2006 of animals being maltreated in Egypt, which led to the closure of that market.

Ms White said Meat and Livestock Australia’s education campaign was not working and Middle East consumers assumed Australians thought it was acceptable to treat animals in this way.

AA also had the support of Jordan’s Princess Alia, who recently said she was horrified by the footage.

Princess Alia said Australia had to rectify the situation, saying inhumane treatment of animals had nothing to do with being an Arab or part of Islamic culture.

LiveCorp said the industry was deeply concerned about the 7.30 Report footage.

The company said no animal should be handled or treated in that way.

“This is an ongoing program that is steadily making a difference to animal welfare through raising awareness of the right way to manage livestock, ” LiveCorp said in a statement.

“In Kuwait, we have improved port, feedlot and abattoir facilities to ensure they meet Organisation for Animal Health standards. We are delivering further facility upgrades and providing Australian livestock training and education programs.

“Our Middle-East-based animal welfare specialists are currently working with all levels of stakeholders in Kuwait — from government to feedlot and abattoir management and staff — as part of our ongoing strategy to improve animal welfare.

“They are also seeking to address the treatment of livestock seen on the 7.30 Report.”

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the Government did not condone animal abuse and it continued to support live trade, because it was a vital rural industry.

“The images provided by AA demonstrate that more work is required to achieve standards that are acceptable to the Australian community, ” Mr Ludwig said.

He added that he had met representatives of AA to hear their concerns and with the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council.

“I am working closely with both industry and animal welfare groups to find practical ways to ensure livestock exported from Australia is no longer exposed to this kind of treatment and are processed in appropriate facilities, ” Mr Ludwig said.

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