Animal Welfare Groups call on Federal Agriculture Minister to Stop Slaughter Without Stunning

ANIMAL welfare groups have called on federal Agriculture Minister Tony
Burke to halt the slaughter by throat slitting of up to 4000 sheep a
week at four Victorian abattoirs for new kosher exports, which began
last month.

The RSPCA and Animals Australia believe that killing
without any form of electrical stunning of conscious sheep is illegal
under the current industry standard and have called on the minister to
intervene as the practice escalates in Victoria.

The Australian
standard for ritual slaughter states that animals must be electrically
stunned, however exemption permits have been issued under special
arrangements made under a legally disputed guideline.

It is
believed abattoirs at Kyneton and Geelong last week began killing 1000
sheep each a week without stunning for kosher exports to Israel, while
abattoirs at Warrnambool and Cranbourne were set to follow.

previous agriculture minister Peter McGauran announced a review of the
standard for ritual slaughter in August last year after The Age
revealed animals were being slaughtered without stunning for halal meat

Animal welfare groups are concerned that the practice
of slaughter without stunning has now quadrupled since the review was
announced, despite an undertaking by Mr McGauran that no new permits
would be issued during the review.

The review was originally expected to be completed by November but is now unlikely to be finalised before April.

Australia and the RSPCA believe the Australian Quarantine and
Inspection Service has issued new export permits for the kosher
slaughter at four Victorian abattoirs during the review.

But Mr Burke denied the kosher slaughter that began in Victoria two weeks ago was the result of new permits.

further permits have been or will be issued while that review is under
way,” he said. “The review will be thorough and I don’t intend to rush.”

Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said the new minister should not wait for the outcome of the review.

new minister can stop it from happening and … can see the community
believes this to be wrong and the science says that animals will suffer
unnecessarily,” she said.

RSPCA chairman Dr Hugh Wirth said all
ritual slaughter without stunning should be stopped by the minister
until the review was complete.

“I know the former minister allowed this cruelty to continue but the new minister should have intervened,” he said.

slaughter of animals for Jewish and Muslim markets requires that the
animal is killed by having its throat slit. The review will examine the
science of how much suffering this causes to conscious animals and
whether the practice is inhumane.