Calls for northern processor

Kate Matthews and Lauren CelenzaCountryman

A feasibility study into building an abattoir in WA’s north is expected to be started by the end of the year.

Calls for live export cattle to be processed at home have been made in the wake of the Four Corners footage exposing cruel slaughter methods in some Indonesian abattoirs.

WA Beef Council chairman Tony Hiscock said firstly it had to identify what and how things should be done in order for the industry to make an abattoir viable.

“People have to be satisfied that if they invest in an abattoir it will make a profit,” he said.

The industry had said it was not as simple as processing the cattle at home — firstly it was not what the Indonesian market wanted; and there were other economic and logistical issues.

Mr Hiscock endorsed the action by LiveCorp on Monday to restrict exports to only 25 approved abattoirs in Indonesia.

“This whole thing has taken everyone by surprise, but it needs to be understood that Australia is the only one out there that has done anything in relation to animal welfare of the destinations of its cattle.

“Yes, a lot more needs to be done but Indonesian abattoirs are going to go on with or without Australian cattle.”

WA farm lobby groups have also endorsed the industry plan to limit live cattle exports to 25 abattoirs.

They say the key issue is to keep the Indonesian market open and improve animal welfare in the remaining 75 processing facilities.

But the situation of excess supply on the domestic market has been touted to cause pain in the short and medium term for northern pastoralists.

Pastoralist and Graziers Association (PGA) chairman Rob Gillam said the key would be to get all the top 25 abattoirs to use stunning to approved standards compliant with Australian expectations.

Mr Gillam said compulsory use of radio frequency identification tags to trace Australian cattle movements should be used.

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