MP protests over live cattle cruelty

From the Australian 9 January 2013. By Miranda Rout

OUTSPOKEN Labor MP Kelvin Thomson has written to the Indonesian Agriculture Minister expressing his concern about "distressing and confronting" images of cattle being lifted by a crane with ropes tied around their heads.

Mr Thomson, one of the ALP's strongest critics of the $1 billion live export trade, said in the letter he hoped Suswono (who goes by one name) would take appropriate action over the photographs of Indonesian cattle being transported in East Java. The pictures have outraged local animal welfare activists.

The backbencher's move follows last year's Indonesian live cattle export crisis, when the Gillard government temporarily banned the cattle trade.

Cattle hoisted Juni Kriswanto Source AFP

A group of cows is shown with their necks painfully outstretched as workers load cattle in Surabaya, East Java.
Picture: Juni Kriswanto
Source: AFP

Political concern has been building in Australia over the fate of a shipment of cattle that was sent to Mauritius with pregnant cows on board, with Labor and Greens MPs expressing dismay over claims of significant discrepancies in the paperwork.

The Australian revealed the government was investigating possible breaches of regulations after the shipment was sent in October, despite Australian authorities stating none of the cattle onboard were pregnant.

Sixty-five of the cattle were later found dead in the Mauritian feedlot and local police are investigating the deaths, amid claims they were poisoned.

Animals Australia claims the ship's master reported no deaths on board, but the exporter's "accredited stockman" said at least 18 cattle died en route.

Mr Thomson said yesterday he was concerned about both incidents, having written to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig about the shipment to Mauritius and now to Dr Suswono about the graphic images, shot by AFP, in Indonesia.

The photographs show a crane transferring three bony cows from a boat in the eastern Javanese city of Surabaya using a loop of rope around their skulls. Another image portrays seven live cows being lifted with their necks outstretched.

"I found them distressing and confronting," Mr Thomson said. "I hope the Indonesian government takes appropriate action in this case. I hope it will demonstrate in its enforcement of laws against animal cruelty its commitment to appropriate standards of animal welfare."

"This is yet another disturbing example of why independent oversight of this cruel industry is necessary," West Australian MP Melissa Parke said.