HERE we go again. Inflated claims of animals being brutalized are used to frame the Australian cattle industry and live exporters and northern producers in particular.
The team that accused Australian cattle producers and Indonesian people in general of brutality over the mistreatment of a small number of Australian cattle more than a year ago is back with more sensational footage.
This time the racist attack on Indonesian people – the claimed brutality in their slaughter of a majority of Australian-sourced cattle - has not been repeated. This time it is the Australian Government, and what Animals Australia proclaims as the innate cruelty of the Australian live export industry that is in their sights.
What a shameful exaggeration – bullying the government and blackening the reputation of an entire industry once more - because of the actions of less than half a dozen people, one or two of whom were cruel and others ignorant or incompetent.
This time, Animals Australia and the ABC have produced and broadcast disturbing footage from a hidden camera carried into two Indonesian abattoirs, only one of which is identified as being linked to an Australian supply chain. Their spokesperson, Lyn White, uses the resulting footage to demand an end to live exports, directing her attack at the Australian government and the industry still reeling from her earlier assault.
No one in this country or in Indonesia can stop an individual perpetrating a cruel act if that is what they are determined to do. The stubbornly long list of cases of cruelty to pet animals, or other examples from within Australia are testament to that fact.
But this latest case has been singled out by Australia’s national broadcaster. Why? Because of the implicit smear it casts at Australian cattle producers and the accompanying campaign to halt live cattle exports from this country.
Let’s analyse the latest footage. Since Four Corners broadcast its Walkley Award-winning attack on the industry last year, our Government has driven a campaign to remove and upgrade or replace the controversial mark-one killing boxes in Indonesian abattoirs that process Australian cattle.
In this latest footage, the unidentified local agent of Animals Australia films a mark-one box, still in use, but in an abattoir that is not licensed to process Australian cattle.
Incompetent stock handling and the apparent fear of poorly-trained workers as they struggle with a complex process are obvious in that part of the video, but no intentional or systemic mistreatment of Australian cattle is present. Ms White asserts that the animal involved is of Australian origin, but the ABC does not endorse her claim.
In the example where an accredited facility and an Australian steer are shown, one cruel and incompetent individual pokes the animal in the face with a knife-sharpening steel until the beast becomes enraged and tries to escape. The same worker is the one who operates the tilt mechanism on the box without the necessary head restraint. He is the one who interferes with its wound.
Apart from this one individual and his cruelty, another is shown pouring water on a steer as it lies in the restraint.
In reporting on the footage, RSPCA scientist, Bidda Jones, says she has identified 46 practices that would be in breach of Australian requirements if they involved Australian cattle in an accredited supply chain.
Although the footage shows animals killed without stunning, this is not a process outlawed by Australia or the international standards of the OIE.
The practices demonstrated in this video are in no way typical of the much higher standards that apply to Australian cattle under the supply chain arrangements specified by the Australian government. Since the events of June, 2011, the majority of facilities processing our export cattle have switched to mandatory stunning.
Once again the ABC and Animals Australia have shown themselves to be less than impartial when dealing with the realities of our export cattle industries.
The Federal Government has launched an investigation into this latest film and the incidents it portrays. Until its findings are known, the Australian public would be wise to keep an open mind on sensational and destructive claims such as this.