Australia halts cattle exports to Indonesia

Suspension to stay until new regulations are established to protect the livestock from mistreatment.

    The Australian government says it has suspended all cattle exports to neighbouring Indonesia after an outcry over alleged abusive treatment of livestock in the country.

    Joe Ludwig, Austrialia's agriculture minister, said on Wednesday that the suspension would remain until Indonesia establishes new regulations to protect livestock from mistreatment.

    "Last night I ordered the complete suspension of all livestock exports to Indonesia for the purposes of slaughter, until new safeguards are established for the trade," he said.

    Australia's minority Labor government has been under fierce pressure to suspend the $342m cattle business with Indonesia after television footage from Animals Australia, an animal-rights group, showed cattle being beaten, whipped and maimed prior to slaughter in abattoirs across Indonesia.

    Australia exports about 500,000 cattle a year to Indonesia, accounting for 60 per cent of its livestock trade.

    Australia's cattle industry is concerned about the ban, which Canberra said could last up to six months.

    "It is going to hurt, it is going to hurt, we know that. There are tens of thousands of cattle in the supply chain now," Luke Bowen, a member of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association, said.

    Lyn White, who is the campaign director for Animals Australia, welcomed the news of the suspension, but wants an outright ban on all live exports.

    "The live trade must end. There is nothing to say that this situation is not occurring in other countries, or that it cannot occur again in any way," he said.

    Mari, Pangestu, Indonesia's trade minister, said on Wednesday that Jakarta is holding talks with Canberra to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

    "The ministry of agriculture and Animal Husbandry has already co-ordinated with the Australian side to solve the problem, especially on standards of abattoirs," Pangestu said.

    "Indonesia already has programmes and needs to intensify through the department and discuss with Australia for a time frame."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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