NFF hopes investigation will reveal all in sheep cull
THE farming and live export industry has called for patience from the Australian public while an investigation is completed into the "horrendous" cull of some 20,000 Australian sheep in Pakistan.
The deaths of thousands of Australian sheep in Pakistan last month, after the shipment were refused entry in Bahrain, was highlighted on ABC Television's Four Corners program on Monday night.
National Farmers' Federation president Jock Laurie, Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chairman Peter Kane and Sheepmeat Council of Australia president Ian McColl fronted reporters on Tuesday morning at Parliament House.
The group condemned the actions of the Pakistan Sindh Livestock Department, which inhumanely culled the sheep, breaching Australian export standards put in place after the ban on live exports to Indonesia last year.
But Mr Laurie said he hoped a Federal Government investigation would soon reveal what actually happened during the fortnight-long debacle.
He said the industry and government could not appropriately respond to the events in Pakistan and the failure of the new export standards system until the investigation identified the problems.
"The welfare of animals is of paramount concern to the Australian livestock production and export industries," an industry statement read.
"Australia is the only country, of the more than 100 countries across the world that export livestock, which actively works in overseas markets to help improve animal welfare conditions.
"If Australia was to stop exporting livestock, global animal welfare standards would unquestionably decline."
The ABC program on Monday night also sparked renewed calls for the Government to ban all live exports.
But Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said although there were some people in the community who did not want the trade to continue "I am not one of them".
A statement from Mr Ludwig said the Pakistan cull was an isolated incident and "not a reflection of the trade as a whole".
"Government and industry has built and implemented a system that sets a high standard internationally," it read.
"We continue to engage with international bodies and trading partners to advocate better animal welfare standards."
The investigation, conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is currently under way but no official reporting date has yet been set.
Katter slams ABC coverage
Outspoken Queensland MP Bob Katter has attacked the ABC, saying the national broadcaster was running a television series "sponsored by the hand-wringing eye-daubing set".
Mr Katter's attack came after the broadcaster's flagship Four Corners program on Monday night revealed problems in the live export industry.
He said Australians should not "submit to the emotional blackmail" being perpetrated by the media, reminding people to consider the effects of the emotion-driven debate on cattle producers.
"If it is the ABC's personal objective to destroy one of the major sources of protein - a basic building block of nutrition - for third-world countries, and to have an absolutely devastating effect on our sheep and cattle industries, well, they're doing a wonderful job of it," he said.
"But we will pay a terrible price for this moral arrogance, a little touch of xenophobia.
"The implication of this moral arrogance is that somehow these other countries are not quite civilised. Well, some aspects of our society wouldn't bear the spotlight on them, either."
But the ABC did not take the accusations lightly.
A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said the ABC had no agenda concerning the future of the Australian cattle and sheep industries.
"However, it is the job of the ABC to investigate, raise questions and report on issues of legitimate public interest, such as the treatment of animals within Australia's live sheep and cattle export trade," she said.
"This is what Four Corners did with its report last night."