JOE LUDWIG: Inquiry announced.
JOE LUDWIG: Inquiry announced.

Live export tensions rise

OPPONENTS of live animal exports will rally in Lismore on July 1 to push their case for a total ban on the trade.

News of the rally preceded an announcement by Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig of an inquiry into Australia's livestock animal exports, and follows more fall-out within the industry over who knew what about the treatment of cattle in some Indonesian abattoirs.

Scientist, lawyer and member of the Tasmanian Government's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Malcolm Caulfield, is one of a number of animal welfare and industry representatives who will speak at information sessions in Casino and Lismore prior to the planned rally.

"The slaughter industry in Australia is heavily and well regulated and I think it works pretty well," Dr Caulfield said.

"I am going to be contrasting that with the way in which the Federal Department of Agriculture allows live exports to proceed almost without any reference to law-breaking, despite the fact there has been extensive examples of law-breaking."

Dr Caulfield wants the Government to hold an inquiry into capacity within the Australian meat processing sector, and was critical of claims a live export ban would stretch the sector.

"The screeching from the live export industry and producers in the northern market that there is not capacity to slaughter locally is really misleading," he said.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, which will also be represented at the pre-rally information sessions, has issued a statement refuting claims by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) chairman Don Heatley that the MLA had no knowledge of the brutal treatment of cattle in Indonesia.

The statement refers to a report prepared for the MLA in May 2010, which was also provided to the Federal Department of Agriculture.

"There is irrefutably evidence that as at May 2010, the MLA andLiveCorp were put clearly on notice as to the animal welfare issues," the union statement reads.

"Moreover, the evidence was forwarded to the department. A significant issue is what action they took, if any, and whether the minister was briefed on the situation."

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig yesterday announced the Government would conduct an inquiry into the live export trade to provide "appropriate welfare outcomes for Australian livestock" and as a basis for a "sustainable live export industry over the long term." The inquiry will be headed by former diplomat Bill Farmer.

"I have asked Mr Farmer to examine the whole live animal export supply chain from paddock to the point of slaughter for all markets that receive Australian livestock," Mr Ludwig said.

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