A Four Corners documentary played on TV last night but I couldn’t watch it. I could never have conceived of the cruelty that abattoir meat workers inflicted on the cattle that the Australian Cattle Industry exports live to Indonesia. I wouldn’t call those workers butchers, that is too glamorous a word for them.
To Quote Lyn White, director of Animals Australia: “I remember thinking so clearly at the time that this animal just didn’t understand why he was being beaten. And it was almost like he was calling out why? ” Footage shows workers whipping a steer and kicking its head while it lay bleeding and helpless on the metal floor, looking at Ms White through her camera. Ms White is a retired policewoman who now works as an investigator for Animals Australia, focusing on live exports. In March Ms White filmed at eleven abattoir across Indonesia where the Federal Government and peak Australian livestock associations are supporting this slaughterhouse trade.
I stood outside our lounge in which our TV sits to listen to the horrific sounds of animals screaming in terror and pain, because I couldn’t cope with the images, but even then I was crying and shocked at what I heard. My partner couldn’t watch it either. I hope I never have to hear a steer screaming in agony like that again. But we have to know what goes on to write about it and to alert the public to the barbarism that these totally insensitive muslims inflict on animals. Of course, I shouldn’t say that because it is not politically correct, but someone has to. I don’t know what it is about Islam, but its adherents just do not seem to value animal life. I wont go into their values concerning human life here because this is about helpless animals we humans have absolute control over.
Cameron Hall, the CEO of LiveCorp, the huge corporation which exports live cattle to Indonesia, would be one of the most sanctimonious of men I have ever heard speak. He tried to wiggle his way out of direct questions by the presenter, as to why for over ten years, these animals from Australia have been subjected to horrific torture. He is quite relaxed that it could, in his estimation, take at least another two years before Indonesians are trained to be humane. “It has already taken ten years to get nowhere”, I yelled at his infuriating image on TV.
There are 100 abattoir in Indonesia and to date only eight have stunners, a hand-held machine which stuns the animal as soon as it enters the killing room. However, where there are stunners available, when the cameras aren’t running, the workers resort to unspeakable practices, stated Ms White on camera. Muslims say the animal has to be conscious when it is killed and standing up, so refuse to use the stun guns on religious grounds. The animal has to hear the meat worker’s prayer to Allah. In one instance, a worker was trying to get a fallen animal to stand, but it kept slipping on the slippery metal platform banging its head heavily, until finally it broke its leg. The worker kept goading and prodding the animal to stand up and this continued for 25 minutes. The worker then began hosing water over the animal and forcing water up its nostrils. The bleating from the steer was heart-rending. After several more minutes of this the worker broke the steer’s tail with his hands. In the final moments of the animal’s life, the pain must have been horrendous. Finally the animal gave up struggling to get up, and was killed. I know who the beasts are in this equation.
Ken Warriner of Consolidated Pastoral, another multi-million dollar cattle exporter, maintains he knew nothing of this cruelty and yet he has visited these abattoir many times. He also says changing the attitude of the Indonesian workers will “take time”. Well, the unfortunate animals getting ready to be shipped out to Indonesian abattoir on the Ocean Drover don’t have time. All the sympathy is being mis-directed at the Australian cattlemen who are whingeing about the loss of their millions. When live exports to Egypt were banned, thanks to Animals Australia, because of the barbaric abattoir practices there, refrigerated carcases were exported instead and at the same time created jobs for humane Australians.
What many people are asking is this; are halal practices at Australian butcher shops scrutinised by RSPCA and other animal health groups, because the Islamic way of killing animals for food is to cut their throats and let the blood drain from them until they die, a slow and painful death. If we let this continue in our own backyard, then we are no better than the Indonesian meat workers.
In Indonesian abattoir, the animals have their throats cut with a sawing action because the workers are untrained in butchery and therefore the animal suffers for many minutes. In one case shown on the documentary, an animal had its throat cut with a blunt knife, and with its head cut halfway through, it thrashed about in agony. In an effort to get away from the knife-welding worker, the animal ran towards Ms White filming the incident, so the worker cut the steer’s leg tendon, it then collapsed in front of her. The poor animal still tried to get onto its feet in terror while the worker gouged its nostrils and eyes in an effort to make it stand up so he could finish cutting its throat. I couldn’t watch this, but the narration was sickening enough. In another abattoir the animals are tied in a row to a hand rail in the killing room. There they wait as each one of them is led to the middle of the room where its throat is cut in this manner. The other cattle are forced to watch this blood bath and in the process become more and more distressed. By the time the last one is untied, it is shaking and deeply distraught. I did pluck up the courage to look at this tragic scene of the last animal on death row. The cruelty knows no limits in these houses of death. Computer images of the brains of such distraught animals allows us to see that they are cognisant of what is happening around them and of what is about to happen to them. As the presenter reported “the smell of fear and blood was overpowering”.
CEO of AAco laments that “we don’t know where our animals end up”. Of course they know. These men are at the top of their corporate empires and it is their job to know everything about their business. The Federal Government and the Australian Cattle Industry designed metal restraining boxes because Indonesian abattoir workers couldn’t control the animals from Australia, which are bigger and heavier than their own cattle. They prefer Australian meat because “it tastes better and has bigger bones”. The steers are led singly into the box and the door is closed while a rope is tied around one leg of the animal through the gap around the bottom of the box. Once that is done their throats can be cut, if the word “cut” can be used, with blunt knives. However, the floors of these restraining boxes are wet with excrement, blood and urine and the animal constantly falls over and bangs its head so heavily that the metal echoing sound is like a sledge hammer being bashed against a huge metal drum. The animal is pulled up by the rope only to fall again and again. This is mere sport for the workers. You and I couldn’t watch this scene let alone take part in it. There is a square hole in which the helpless animal’s head is supposed to fall so it can have its throat cut, but naturally it struggles and fights for its life.
Meat and Livestock Australia receives hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry out research into abattoir practices in Indonesia and other countries; what has happened to all that money and the results of the research? Can we trust them to carry out their work independently of the Live Cattle Export Industry?
UPDATE – 9 June 2011: Live exports to Indonesia have been suspended for six months
Thank you Lyn White and Animals Australia for bringing this cruel slaughter to public attention.