The Australian government has suspended live cattle exports to some Indonesian slaughterhouses following a program on Australian television that showed animals being kicked and hacked to death.
Indonesian cattle traders deny allegations of cruel and inhumane treatment, but some Australian lawmakers want all live animal exports to Indonesia suspended until standards improve. We must warn viewers that some of you may find the video in this report particularly gruesome.
The video secretly shot by a group calling itself Animals Australia is difficult to watch. It shows the treatment of live animals at some slaughterhouses in Indonesia.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd expressed outrage after watching the video. "It's disgusting and it's inhumane," he said.
More than half of the live cattle Australia exports is destined for Indonesia, nearly $350 million worth.
Australian TV aired the footage on Monday, and it drew a quick response from lawmakers. On Tuesday, Australia's agriculture minister announced an immediate ban on live cattle exports to 11 Indonesian slaughterhouses.
Joe Ludwig says more could be added to the list. "I've also asked the department to start an investigation into the live animal export industry right across the supply chain," he said.
Some lawmakers say that is not good enough. Australian MP Andrew WIlkie is pressing for a ban on all livestock exports to Indonesia. "We've got to start putting the welfare of our animals ahead of other considerations. We've got to immediately stop the export of animals to Indonesia because of the deep and systemic flaws we saw there," he said.
About 40 percent of all the beef consumed in the predominantly Muslim nation comes from Australia.
Indonesian cattle exporters say the slaughter of animals follows strict Islamic requirements and insist the complaints are baseless.
Iqbal Siregar says the video shows only the worst offenders. "We importers in Indonesia always choose the best slaughterhouses. The Australian government must know that we set the international standard for slaughterhouses," he said.
Muslim tradition calls for animals to have their throats cut, and the blood allowed to drain while the animal is still alive.
Cattle exporters have asked Australian lawmakers to respect Indonesia's religious practices, citing the long standing trade relations between the two countries.