ILE cameras in Indonesian abattoirs

28 May, 2012 02:00 AM

INTERNATIONAL Livestock Exports (ILE) has voluntarily installed CCTV cameras in four abattoirs in its Indonesian supply chain as an early response to the alleged animal welfare breaches raised earlier this year, which the government reported on last week.

It’s the first time CCTV cameras have been used to oversee animal welfare in the Indonesian market.

While other live exporters are supportive of the move, they say they won’t be following that lead any time soon.

ILE chief executive officer Mike Stanton said they responded immediately to the animal welfare claims - raised in February by Animals Australia - by introducing CCTV cameras and implementing stunning practices at the facility in question.

Mr Stanton said cameras would monitor animal handling practices in the four abattoirs at peak times.

But they won’t have animal welfare officers (AWOs) sitting in front of the TV screens watching 100 per cent of the time.

He said the AWOs would collect DVD footage and assess the vision for non-conformities around animal welfare.

If any non-conformities are found, they would take steps to improve animal handling practices, through increased training and up-skilling activities.

"This is all voluntary - we put these things in place and instead of taking five months to act we did so in the first month to improve animal welfare," he said.

Mr Stanton said the CCTV cameras would not necessarily be used to monitor any potential covert surveillance occurring in the abattoirs from extremist groups like Animals Australia, which he said was a concern and required increased security at all facilities.

But he said some facilities were owned and operated by the Indonesian government and exporters were unable to exert the same level of control at those facilities.

"We want extra security but that’s not a priority," he said.

"We want more monitoring, reviews and training and more stunning, because there’s a lot less area of incident when you use stunning effectively."

Asked about ILE’s CCTV instillation in response to the recent investigation, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold said she would leave it to individual exporters to comment on their individual circumstances.

But she said initiatives by individual exporters that strengthen their monitoring and compliance regime, in turn helping them meet the regulated standards of animal welfare, should be welcomed.

Other exporters, who declined to be named, said they could understand why ILE had installed CCTV cameras in its Indonesian abattoirs, but they would not be rushing to follow their lead.

They said Australian abattoirs were not required to use CCTV surveillance to monitor animal welfare.

They were also concerned it could lead to calls from animal rights groups and The Greens to stream the footage live.

Federal Agriculture Department Deputy Secretary Phillip Glyde said the instillation of CCTV surveillance in Indonesian abattoirs was a matter for individual exporters.

"We’ve been informed that some exporters are considering this as part of their audit process and at least one exporter has installed them in several facilities," he said.

"While the existing export assurance system is appropriate to ensure animal welfare outcomes, any further steps taken by exporters can only be a positive step for the industry."

But Animals Australia rejected claims that the installation of CCTV cameras and the presence of an industry-paid AWO in abattoirs would prevent cruel treatment.

Animals Australia investigator Lyn White said CCTV can only be an effective deterrent if workers know that their activities are being monitored by independent regulators.

"Why would anyone believe that a representative of the exporter at an abattoir would report breaches of standards to the Australian government that are contrary to the interests of his employer’s business?" she said.

Animals Australia applauded the thoroughness of the government’s investigation, but said the reports confirmed the industry was for all intents and purposes still self-regulating, and that dire risks to animals remained.

"The bottom line is that these breaches of the new system would not even have been identified and investigated were it not for Animals Australia investigators continuing to scrutinise this trade, so how can the government suggest that this new system is working?" Ms White said.

"Despite assurances the days of self-regulation were over, the government continues to have no day-to-day oversight of the operation of a trade it supports and endorses - a trade that time and again has shown its preparedness to put profit before welfare.

"A regulatory system that depends on a charity to be its watchdog, and on exporters to monitor themselves, is not a system that either producers or the community can have any confidence in."

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Dont buy the 'we care' from greedy self serving exporters
28/05/2012 7:09:14 AM

And we are supposed to be led by our noses into thinking this is acceptable? 84% of the population wont agree.. But this isnt about the public or of course the animals either- in fact never has been about animal welfare. This is a strategic move to counter opposition from the polititians who demand accountability for the brutal and atrocious treatment of our animals by those who send them to these heel holes. The trade is so disgusting it leaves Australia with the reputation it deserves.
Exporters full of it as usual.
28/05/2012 7:35:39 AM

Its all a purphy and should be treated with the disbelief it clearly deserves. Exporters do not take action for welfare because they dont give a toss about the animals. If they did they would never export live sentient beings to be treated so appallingly. I say its all PR claptrap- typical of the export industry and should be discarded as such.
28/05/2012 10:23:29 AM

Give it a rest you whining fool.No one believes your whingeing and lies.
28/05/2012 1:50:39 PM

Daws and Stanton to professing the slightest conerrn for animal welfare? They've been caught out before, and will be caught out again. As for CCTV, what's the bet it won't work most of time? And another layer of self regulation, employed and paid for by the exporters is as banal, specious and meaningless as everything else DAFF has done about this.
Paul Wilson
28/05/2012 3:17:39 PM

would you be so vocal if the animals came from a different country instead of Australia? And don't try to tell me Aussies haven't done anything to improve these importing countries. We've probably put in much more than most other exporting countries. at least Australian exporters aren't only focused on Australian animals.
28/05/2012 4:47:04 PM

You guys need to have a really good steak, with a glass or two of a big Ozzie red and a lie down. The real story is we do care but we don't control everyone's actions in other countries. Surprise surprise!! g
29/05/2012 8:29:56 AM

These exporters are nothing more than animal traffickers and only motived by greed and the fear of losing their licence Paul Wilson your comment is over 30 years old and out of date, where are the so called improvements, when there is no welfare law in these countries to protect these animals from cruelty.
Paul Wilson
29/05/2012 4:14:40 PM

Sophie, so can you tell me that you have been to these countries and have not been able to identify any improvements? Please don't base your assumptions on a little bit of footage that gets prime time TV. as 'Hungry?' has said in another post, "...if you want our live product then you will comply." if these importers want Aussie cattle, they'll have to keep improving, and they will. Like I've said before, spend some time on a farm and work in an abattoir, find out what farming is really about...
29/05/2012 6:02:01 PM

This sounds like a step in the right direction installing CCTV cameras in 4 abattoirs in Indonesia but think a little further. Can you imagine a representative of the exporter reporting cruelty that will go against the interests of his employer it just wouldn't work? If it wasn't for Animals Australia there would be no scrutinising of this barbaric trade and as always the government puts profits before principles.
30/05/2012 9:36:24 AM

If they don't report it Kathleen more likely they'll step in & fix the problem, which is more likely to be a minor incident connected to ignorance or lack of training.
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