Australia appalled by sheep slaughter
SYDNEY, November 06, 2012: Australian farmers Tuesday urged against any ban on the live export trade after Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig expressed disgust at the brutal slaughter of 21,000 sheep by Pakistani authorities.
The shipment of Australian sheep was sent to Karachi after being turned away by Bahrain, with Pakistan livestock officials ordering them culled over disease concerns.
Graphic footage of their slaughter was aired by ABC’s Four Corners programme on Monday, including images of a man sawing at a sheep’s neck before throwing it into a bloody trench.
Other sheep were bulldozed into the pit after being killed, but some were seen the next morning still breathing, sparking condemnation of their treatment.
“It was certainly appalling,” Ludwig said. “No one would have expected that — it was unprecedented.
“It is a matter that the (agriculture) department, as the regulator, will now investigate separately, and certainly I’m looking forward to seeing that report as to what happened and then how we can certainly avoid it.”
The department disputed that the sheep were unhealthy and said the cull was unnecessary.
“We do not know the reasoning behind the Pakistan authority’s decision to cull the sheep in Pakistan or their choice of the method used,” the agriculture ministry said.
“We continue to hold that both the decision and the method used were unnecessary.”
The National Farmers’ Federation said significant improvements had been made in regulating Australia’s live export market and “decisive action” had been taken to temporarily suspend exports of sheep to Pakistan and Bahrain.
The farming lobby group stressed that Australia was a world leader in animal treatment in exports and warned that banning the trade would see welfare standards fall.
“Australia is the only country, of the more than 100 countries across the world that export livestock, which actively works in overseas markets to help improve animal welfare conditions,” it said in a statement.
“If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, global animal welfare standards would unquestionably decline.”
Australia’s live export trade is worth about US$1 billion a year and employs thousands of people.
Australia suspended live cattle exports to Indonesia for a month last year after a television documentary revealed mistreatment inside its abattoirs, only reinstating the trade under a strict new licensing system.