Australia – Halal Ritual slaughter debate

Australia – Halal Ritual slaughter debate

13 Nov 2009

THE religious ritual slaughter of conscious animals will be allowed to
continue at some Australian abattoirs, after a decision by federal and
state agriculture ministers.

move has angered animal welfare groups, which have waited two years for
a review ordered by the previous federal government into the practice
of ritually slaughtering animals by cutting their throats while they
are still conscious for some halal and kosher exports to the Middle

RSPCA Australia said it was an “unconscionable
decision” for a government that said it was committed to animal
welfare. “No animal should have to feel the pain of having its throat
cut while fully conscious – it is simply cruel and inhumane,” said the
RSPCA’s scientific officer, Melina Tensen.

Four Victorian
abattoirs have been allowed to kill animals without stunning for more
than two years after being granted exemptions to the ritual slaughter
standard requiring animals to be stunned unconscious.

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said they were the only four of
Australia’s 74 exporting abattoirs that had approval to kill without
stunning and no new requests or approvals had been made since August

“The animal welfare community has put together a
framework where management practices will be adopted that are
compatible with the individual abattoir’s operation that will reduce
the potential impact to the animal,” Mr Burke said.

He did not elaborate on what the practices were that would reduce the animals’ suffering.

Primary Industries Ministerial Council (state and federal agriculture
ministers) said it would continue to consult with religious, industry
and animal welfare groups.

But Animals Australia slammed the
decision yesterday, saying that cutting the throats of conscious
animals was barbaric and unacceptable to Australians. It said: “Any
suggestion of further consultation on this issue is ludicrous – there
has been 2½ years of consultation but the science and the sad truth
does not change.”

A spokeswoman for Victorian Agriculture
Minister Joe Helper said he welcomed the outcome of the council’s
meeting in Perth on Friday. “The council agreed to publicly release the
two scientific reports and engage in further consultation with all
concerned parties – religious groups, meat processors and animal
welfare organisations – with the aim of making any ritual slaughter
practice as humane as possible.”

The decision follows last
week’s plea from Princess Alia bint al-Hussein of Jordan to Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd to stop the ritual slaughter without stunning as it
undermined efforts to improve animal welfare in the Middle East.

Last year, Australia exported 1.5 million tonnes of red meat, of which 5316 tonnes came from animals killed without stunning.