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Australia to probe new Indonesia cattle cruelty video

Canberra / Reuters / Australia will investigate new video appearing to show cattle being mistreated at an Indonesian abattoir, and could reimpose an export ban on the slaughterhouse if it broke animal welfare rules, said Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig.

Australia suspended live cattle exports to Indonesia for a month in 2011 after a video showing cows being beaten and whipped before slaughter was aired on Australian television. The footage outraged many Australians, while the government response angered farmers who said the move jeopardized jobs.

Fresh footage that animal rights activists said showed Indonesian workers slitting a cow’s throat without first stunning it, as required under the new rules, prompted calls for the country to end the $340-million live cattle trade with its biggest customer, Indonesia.

Under rules introduced after last year’s outcry, the Australian government requires exporters to ensure animal welfare standards are met at Indonesian abattoirs they supply, and can punish firms which ship cows to slaughterhouses where cruelty occurs.

Industry bodies the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and the Cattle Council of Australia rejected calls for any wider suspension of animal exports.

“Last year when that happened there was no system of regulation which sat underneath the industry in Indonesia,” said Cattlemen’s Association president Luke Bowen.

“Now we are in a position where there is a system of regulation put in place by the Australian government. If there are problems identified, there is a rule book and there are penalties involved.”

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