Slaughter without stunning is allowed in some circumstances but not when animals are kept in Mark I boxes as shown in the footage. The boxes were banned after a review by Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer.
The footage was supplied by Animals Australia to the Department of Agriculture, which is investigating.
Mark Harvey-Sutton from Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said the animals should have been slaughtered using a Mark 4 box and rendered immediately unconscious after their throats where slit for it to be humane and compatible with Australian rules.
He said the firm responsible, which he would not name, was identifying itself to the Department of Agriculture, which acts as the regulator of the trade.
“The footage was very confronting and it’s an inappropriate way for Australian cattle to be slaughtered,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.
“There has been a loss of control of the cattle and that’s what unfortunately led to the animal to being slaughtered in that manner.”
The RSPCA is demanding Agriculture Minister David Littleproud explain why the government’s system set up to protect Australians animals sold abroad has been breached in two separate countries in the last month alone.
It asked Mr Littleproud to commit to requiring CCTV in all abattoirs overseas where Australian animals are slaughtered so that they can be monitored in real-time by Australian officials.
“Such slaughter methods are barbaric and it is of grave concern that Australian animals are still being subjected to these methods nine years after they were first brought to light in 2011,” Richard Mussell, the chief executive of RSPCA Australia wrote to the minister.
“Business as usual is clearly not working,” Mr Mussell said.
Animals Australia and the RSPCA are also calling for electronic tagging to more easily track exporters responsible for breaches. The animals in the video are missing their National Livestock Identification tags.
Mr Littleproud said he is “concerned whenever there are allegations or breaches of the ESCAS”, and noted Australia is the only livestock exporting country that requires specific animal welfare conditions be met after the livestock arrive in the importing country.
He said exporters are responsible for maintaining a system that ensures animal welfare standards, and introducing CCTV and other technology is a matter for the Agriculture Department to consider. He said the department is investigating the reported incidents and when complete “that information will be released publicly”.
The Department of Agriculture was contacted for comment.
It is the second time breaches of the exporter animal welfare rules have been identified in as many countries during this year’s Eid. Last week, breaches of the export rules were revealed in Jordan, where local sellers dragged Australian sheep around by one leg and advertised the animals for illegal home slaughter for the Eid sacrifice.
When asked if the live export industry deserved another second chance, Mr Harvey-Sutton said: “I don’t think its a case of second chances, it’s a case of giving the public confidence that there are steps in place when the wrong thing happens,” he said.
“Australians will support [the trade] when they understand it when there are significant controls and methods in place.
“I know it doesn’t excuse and it and in no way would I condone what occurred but there are 600,000 cattle sent to Indonesia each year and they all go through ESCAS systems.”
Lynn White from Animals Australia said nothing had changed since 2011 when the organisation exposed the same sorts of abuses.
“That Australian cattle are being killed by brutal, banned methods in audited and approved abattoirs in Indonesia should sound alarm bells that the integrity of the ESCAS audit and compliance system has been compromised,” she said.
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Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.