Indonesia trade under new cloud

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Live export trade to Indonesia potentially faces further disruption as new claims of animal mistreatment in Indonesian slaughterhouses surface.

WA-based cattle exporter International Livestock Exports (ILE) has voluntarily suspended trade to one Indonesian abattoir after Animals Australia released its latest footage of mistreatment.

The disturbing images of cattle being inhumanely slaughtered, aired on Monday last week on the ABC, have triggered an investigation by Australian authorities which could find ILE at risk of a penalty under new legislation.

ILE director Mike Stanton said he had made the decision to voluntarily suspend trade to one facility after the footage had potentially identified one for the mistreated cattle's eartags as being marked with his company's brand.

ILE is continuing to send cattle to other facilities and has exported about 50,000 head of cattle to Indonesia since the live trade resumed in August.

The footage, aired on ABC's Lateline program, showed workers slitting the throats of cattle without stunning them first and animals being cut up while they were still alive.

A Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) assessment of the footage found breaches of the supply chain checklists, including 46 separate breaches documented on eight animals being slaughtered using Australian-designed Mark IV restraint boxes.

Animals Australia claimed the film was shot in January by an Indonesian investigator engaged by them. The animal rights lobby group, which is pushing for the trade to be stopped, said the steers in the footage could be Australian animals.

Mr Stanton said he could not believe this had happened again after the overhaul of the supply chain and that the footage highlighted the need for on-going training and monitoring within each facility. He said by isolating a suspension to one facility demonstrated ILE's commitment to ensuring ongoing compliance within the regulatory guidelines.

The abattoir had been accredited under ILE's supply chain regime which is regulated by the Federal Government's Export Supply Chain Accreditation System (ESCAS).

Following the Government's ban on live exports to Indonesia last year, the new regulatory body has a role to provide above internationally accepted animal welfare standards.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is investigating the footage supplied by Animals Australia, relating to three facilities, and will decide on penalties if it confirms that an Australian exporter has breached ESCAS rules.

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