THE World Society
for the Protection of Animals has condemned the Federal Government for
allowing the ritual slaughter of conscious animals for halal and kosher
meat to continue in Australian abattoirs.

organisation, the world’s largest federation of animal welfare
societies, said the Government’s position could ”open the floodgates”
for demand for the ”inhumane” slaughter method in the Middle East.

allowing ritual slaughter without stunning, federal and state ministers
are damaging Australia’s international reputation as a progressive
country,” the society’s farm animals program manager, Amy Firth, said.
”With the Middle East being Australia’s biggest export market, the
resulting impact this could have on the welfare of Australian animals
should not be underestimated.”

The Barristers
Animal Welfare Panel, consisting of 90 barristers including 20 silks,
also spoke out on the issue yesterday, saying it would urge all federal
MPs to put a stop to ritual slaughter without stunning.

chairman Graeme McEwen said the issue showed agriculture ministers had
a conflict of interest and put industry interests before animal welfare.

criticisms follow a meeting last week of federal and state agriculture
ministers that decided to let the practice continue while more
consultation took place, more than two years after a review of ritual
slaughter was ordered by the previous government. The ministers agreed
to release two scientific reports this week on ritual slaughter.

first says sheep slaughtered without first being electrically stunned
unconscious can suffer ”panic and terror” but stopped short of
opposing the practice. The second report says slaughter without
stunning poses a risk to animal welfare and that animals remain aware
between two and 20 seconds after their throats are slit.

Victorian abattoirs – Midfield Meats at Warrnambool, Hardwick’s Meat
Works at Kyneton, GA Gathercole of Carrum and MC Herd at Geelong – were
exempted two years ago from a rule requiring animals to be stunned
before slaughter, to meet some halal and kosher export contracts.

Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said this week that no decision had been made to remove the exemptions.

meat processors fear the exemptions will tarnish the industry, and the
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union says its workers do not want
to kill conscious animals. Australia exported 1.5 million tonnes of red
meat last year, of which 5316 tonnes was from livestock killed without