THE cattle industry is calling for the immediate release of damaging video footage alleged to show Australian cattle being cruelly slaughtered in Vietnam.
The footage is believed to show animals being bludgeoned with a sledgehammer before having their throats cut with a knife. The video is believed to have already been sent to the Federal Department of Agriculture, which is investigating the issue.
The cattle were slaughtered at an abattoir in Vietnam not included in Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). Contrary to earlier reports, the cattle are understood not to have eartags.
A report on Animals Australia’s finding could be broadcast on ABC TV early next week.
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold said she was asking Animals Australia to provide the footage in a “spirit of cooperation” that would enable live exporters and regulars to address animal welfare issues as soon as possible.
“Our systems should have picked it up,” Ms Penfold said.
“It hasn’t and we want to deal with it as soon as possible.
“This doesn’t have to be antogonistic and we certainty don’t need an us and them approach to this issue.
“If we have the video we can better deal with animal welfare issues and possibly identify the source to prevent it happening again.
“We haven’t had a track record of listening to people outside the immediate industry but we are listening now.”
It is further expected that Animals Australia will allege that Australian cattle have been also transported from Vietnam to China, where they have also been slaughtered outside the ESCAS system.
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chairman Simon Crean will hold an emergency meeting with beef industry representatives for later this afternoon. This afternoon’s telephone hook-up follows a meeting of the live export crisis response team last night.
Ms Penfold said there were concerns surrounding both the five years anniversary of the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia and the response from political leaders during the ongoing election campaign.
“We firmly believe in supply chain and facility based solutions,” Ms Penfold said.
However, a chances of developing a working arrangement with Animals Australia appear slight.
A statement issued by the activist group this evening said it had “personally briefed and lodged a complaint with the Department of Agriculture in relation to live export regulation breaches in Vietnam.”
“Evidence provided reveals systemic corruption and circumvention of the traceability system in Vietnam. The industry has been provided the location information needed,” the statement reads.
“12 months ago we took evidence of sledgehammering in Vietnam direct to the department and the industry, rather than making it public and since then, nothing has changed. In fact the corruption and circumvention of regulations in Vietnam has only become more entrenched.
“It’s disappointing that ALEC’s Alison Penfold would even utter the words ‘spirit of cooperation’. 12 months ago Animals Australia investigators first documented sledgehammering of Australian cattle in Vietnam.
“Rather than making the sickening footage public, Animals Australia and the RSPCA met with ALEC. We acted in the ‘spirit of cooperation’ with industry, proposing proactive and reasonable measures to prevent cattle abuse in Vietnam, only to not even be afforded the respect of a response. As a direct result, one year later, the cruelty and corruption continues in Vietnam.”
Animals Australia says the matter is now in the hands of the department to investigate.