5 May 2013

Cruelty claims halt Australian live exports to Egypt

8:17 am on 5 May 2013

The Australian government is defending its live export regulatory system in the wake of new allegations of cruelty to cattle exported to Egypt.

The country's livestock exporters council has voluntarily suspended trade with Egypt following the release of footage showing extreme animal cruelty during the slaughter process.

The video was obtained by animal welfare organisation Animals Australia, which passed it on to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

The department's deputy secretary, Philip Glyde, told the ABC the cruelty that appears to have occurred is shocking.

"We have to go back and think again about why and how this has happened and need to take corrective action to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the "sickening" video was being investigated by Australian and Egyptian authorities.

"If there are problems then we have a regulator, like a cop on the beat, to fix those issues, to then look at who should be held responsible and accountable for those actions and then remedy it.

"One of the things that we want to drive home to industry is that they do have to continue to drive for animal welfare outcomes if this trade is to have a bright future."

The live cattle trade with Egypt has a controversial and bloody history, the ABC reports.

In 2006, the Egyptian trade was suspended after video showed cattle having their tendons slashed before slaughter.

Four years later, trade resumed under strict conditions, where cattle could only go into approved systems.