ANNE KRUGER, PRESENTER: But first up this week, there has been a swift and angry response to revelations about the appalling treatment of Australian cattle at some Indonesian abattoirs.
They were contained in an expose this week on the trade to our biggest live export market on the ABCs Four Corners program.
(Excerpt from Four Corners)
SARAH FERGUSON, REPORTER, FOUR CORNERS: Some of the cattle shipped to Indonesia will die humanely, stunned before slaughter in conditions similar to those in Australia.
Most will not.
(Layered scenes of tied-up cattle struggling, screaming while being repeatedly beaten)
These are the pictures the cattle industry doesnt want you to see.
The cruelty and suffering of Australian animals repeated in traditional abattoirs across Indonesia.
Its sometimes said in years to come well look back with the same horror at the way we treated animals as we do now at the human slave trade.
Whether thats true or not, scenes like this are likely to turn the stomach of the most hardened observer.
(End of excerpt)
ANNE KRUGER: No one with a genuine interest in animal welfare inside or outside the beef industry has condoned the cruelty to cattle exported from northern Australia.
(Excerpt from Four Corners)
SARAH FERGUSON: Ken Warriner was Kerry Packers partner in a cattle business for more than 20 years.
Consolidated Pastoral owns 19 prime stations, covering more than 5.5 million hectares across the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
In 2009 the Packers sold their share to a British equity firm for over $400 million, with Warriner retaining 10 per cent. Part of the deal was that Warriner would stay hands-on running the cattle.
KEN WARRINER, CONSOLIDATED PASTORAL: Thats a good roan one there. Got plenty of meat, plenty of room to hang meat off her.
As I was saying before, theyre very quiet, theyre very intelligent. They learn to respect people quickly.
And they learn to disrespect them if theyre treated unkindly.
SARAH FERGUSON: Do you like them?
KEN WARRINER: Yeah. I like them a lot, yeah.
SARAH FERGUSON: Ken Warriner is considered a guru in the industry for his lifetime of success breeding and managing cattle.
Would you tolerate cruelty to any of your animals?
KEN WARRINER: Here? No! Oh, no, theyre made very clear in their induction that any cruelty will not be tolerated.
SARAH FERGUSON: So why would you tolerate it when theyre in Indonesia?
KEN WARRINER: Because I think its going to take time to get there.
SARAH FERGUSON: Warriner first saw the conditions in Indonesia for himself in 2002.
KEN WARRINER: It was pretty bad. We were very, very disappointed in what we saw – the way they handled the cattle, the way they knocked them down, how they did their halal kill.
SARAH FERGUSON: Since then hes been part of the cattle industrys efforts to change slaughter techniques.
KEN WARRINER: I think thats cut it back from being – I dont know how long it took then to kill them but it certainly cut back the time
Our mentality is, weve got to get these stunning guns in as soon as we can.
SARAH FERGUSON: Youve known about the situation in the abattoirs for more than 10 years.
Isnt that just too slow to improve suffering of that magnitude?
KEN WARRINER: Yeah, Id agree with that. Absolutely totally agree with that.
We didnt think for a minute eight or ten years ago that this was going to be eight or ten years to get this right.
While the cattlemen struggle with their consciences, one woman has been determined to let the public know whats going on in Indonesia.
A former policewoman, Lyn White is now using her investigative skills for the welfare group Animals Australia.
For the last seven years, shes been focusing on the Australian live export trade.
LYN WHITE, ANIMALS AUSTRLIA: I didnt think that I could ever see anything worse than I have witnessed in the Middle East.
(Animal Australia footage of men torturing cattle in a Cairo abattoir)
SARAH FERGUSON: In 2006, she brought the live cattle trade to Egypt to a standstill with footage she obtained of Australian animals being mistreated in Cairo.
LYN WHITE: Wed assumed that because there were greater level of industry involvement in Indonesia the treatment of livestock would be better, but we couldnt have been more wrong.
(End of excerpt)
ANNE KRUGER: The Federal Government has been urged to shut down the trade to Indonesia immediately as a first step towards a complete ban on cattle exports from this country.
(Cow shown being stunned in holding cell)
LYN WHITE: Obviously for cattle to even be remotely slaughtered humanely, they need to be stunned unconscious first but we would still say that the live trade should not continue.
We should be killing the animals here, under Australian conditions, under our control, and then they should only be shipped as meat products not live animals.
A NNE KRUGER: But so far the Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, is resisting those calls, pending the outcome of a detailed examination of Animal Australias footage, the Commonwealths own review of standards at the Indonesian processing end of the supply chain and the performance of the relevant statutory authorities here – Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp.
SENATOR JOE LUDWIG, FEDERAL AGRICULTURE MINISTER: During caucus, I come to the conclusion that there was an important issue to move to suspend trade to those 11 – and forgive me if I dont get the number right, I understand its 11.
ANNE KRUGER: In any event, perhaps the most damning criticism contained in the Four Corners program came from the doyenne of animal behaviour and humane cattle handling, Temple Grandin.
Regular viewers will remember Landline has featured her forthright views and unique perspective on wrangling the herd during speaking tours of Australia, sometimes at the behest of MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia).
SARAH FERGUSON: She was blunt about the industrys assessment that conditions were generally good.
PROFESSOR TEMPLE GRANDIN, COLORADO UNIVERSITY: That is … Well, its bullshit.
I dont know if youre allowed to say that on Australian TV or not.
To say that thats generally good, that is just totally wrong.
The conditions are absolutely terrible. I mean, youve got a box designed to make a cattle fall down. That violates every humane standard there is all around the world.
(Cow falls down as floor tilts beneath it)
What I want to know is why is Meat and Livestock Australias name on the side of this chute? Theyve got a skating rink for a ramp that the animals can barely walk up.
(cow slips to its knees climbing a caged ramp)
This is just an absolutely horrible set-up.
Now the guy is on top of the animal kicking it because he cant get it to move.
(Man stands on fallen cow and kicks it)
Im really shocked that Meat and Livestock Australia would be involved in building facilities this terrible.
ANNE KRUGER: As we go to air this week cattle are still being loaded and shipped to Indonesia, but the future for live exports, indeed the northern cattle industry, remains fluid.
Kerry Lonergan is speaking with Meat and Livestock Australias Chairman Don Heatley.
DON HEATLEY: At this stage, Kerry, were in a position where we are in frequent discussions with the minister, with Government, obviously trying to deal with this situation we have on our hands.
We dont have any clear decisions from the Government just at this point, Kerry.
KERRY LONERGAN, PRESENTER: But what has the industry put together? I know theres been a lot of meetings, a lot of conference calls, etc.
What has the MLA and LiveCorp offered to do to save this industry?
DON HEATLEY: Well at this stage, Kerry, the industry is putting together where it believes the industry should go in relation to this situation.
Clearly, the industry is appalled at what its seen. I mean Im a cattle producer myself and Im absolutely horrified at this situation weve seen in Indonesia.
So as a consequence of all that, if I could summarise it in one short burst, the industry has got to put together a supply chain which goes from paddock to plate in Indonesia, and we have done – I must impress on you – we have done a huge amount of the work thats required there.
We are now in a position where from the paddock in Australia to the feed lot in Indonesia, the industry and government gives that part of the chain a very, very big tick.
We have that working extremely well.
The last step in the supply chain, which is to do with the meat processing sector, is our problem and now thats what we have to overcome.
KERRY LONERGAN: I ask you again, Don – you are just sort of dodging the question a bit – What are you going to do at this end?
DON HEATLEY: Our intention is, Kerry – not dodging the question by one inch at all.
Our intention is to see the supply chain in a position where it can see cattle go from the paddock to the processor. And at the processing end, where our problem remains, we intend to see the industry slowly but surely introduce procedures which will overcome the terrible footage we saw the other night.
What we clearly have to do is overcome the inhumane animal welfare arrangements we saw.
What we need to do is increase the training that goes on in these particular processing plants around the country.
We also have to find ourselves in a position where we can slowly over a period of time introduce stunning into that particular marketplace, so that we can then hold our head high and comply with all the standards that we utilise here in Australia, plus those that the OIE – the international standards for animal welfare – would only find acceptable.
KERRY LONERGAN: So thats what Im up after. So youre going to introduce stun guns to a certain number of abattoirs that are processing Australian cattle in Indonesia?
DON HEATLEY: Could I say to you, Kerry, we dont actually need to introduce them right now. They are already in the marketplace.
And what we want to see is a continual ramping up of the usage within processing plants in Indonesia.
Certainly what we need to do in Indonesia is to put ourselves in a position where we can see Australian cattle supplied to meat processing facilities which are – have the approval of the industry here in Australia.
They obviously need approval at Indonesian Government level so that we can have a clear supply chain where Australian cattle will only be killed under approved animal welfare standards.
And as time goes by, that will include an increased use of stunning.
KERRY LONERGAN: So Don Heatley the major issue really then is Australian exporters finding a balance between the religious sensitivities of Islam – that is the need to kill halal – and the Australian sensitivities about the welfare and the needless cruelty to the animals being processed in Indonesia.
DON HEATLEY: Absolutely, Kerry. I mean, the balance is the key.
We clearly have to work within the boundaries of a sovereign country such as Indonesia whose culture is far different from ours, and its not for ours to criticise and we certainly dont intend to do that.
But youre correct. We have to find a way to work with them, with their religious restrictions.
We also have to be able to find a way where we can operate in an industry in Australia, in Indonesia that actually supplies the needs of both the culture and also the demands of the public.
Its quite clear the public in this country are very, very dissatisfied – as is the industry – the producers, with what weve seen.
So youre absolutely right. Finding that balance is now our challenge.
I honestly believe that we are a long way down the road to making that happen.
KERRY LONERGAN: Ill pass on a question from producers whove phoned the Landline program.
Does MLA accept any responsibility for this situation?
DON HEATLEY: Could I put it to you this way, Kerry. MLA is the only industry organisation in the world that invests in marketplaces such as Indonesia.
Certainly there is outrage, there is disgust at what the industry has seen.
But can I only say to you that if we dont invest in that marketplace, nobody else will, and the vacuum created for both animal welfare, supply of protein, will be something that nobody wishes to see happen.
KERRY LONERGAN: Why shouldnt the Government close the trade if not even temporarily, just to fix this problem?
DON HEATLEY: Its going to be the Governments call, Kerry, as to what they choose to do there.
There is certainly the opportunity for the industry to create, as I said earlier, a supply chain arrangement which I believe will satisfy the requirements of both government, the Indonesian authorities, basically, will satisfy all parties in this process.
I think it just has to be remembered that we dont have an opportunity here to fix something overnight. This is a very, very difficult issue to solve.
We are dealing with a culture that is thousands of years old, has different values to ours, and so therefore, weve got to work within their boundaries.
If we suspend the trade, as I said, thats going to be the ministers call.
But when its all said and done, if we can find the way to supply that particular marketplace with a high-quality protein from our industry in Australia, then I think we will leave both countries in a very good position.
KERRY LONERGAN: Don Heatley, Im sure well speak more on this on Landline but thanks for your time today.
DON HEATLEY: Thanks, Kerry.
Tags: Your Animals