In May last year, an Animals Australia investigation went to air on Four Corners exposing the abuse of cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses. A huge public outcry followed and it brought about an abrupt (albeit short) termination of live cattle exports to Indonesia pending investigation.
Many of us who saw that footage probably thought something along the lines of “Thank God that didn’t happen to the steaks I buy”. Well, unfortunately, you can’t be absolutely sure of that.
(You can watch some of that footage here)
In late 2011, Animals Australia circulated footage of abattoir workers in Gippsland, Victoria, inflicting gross acts of cruelty to pigs during their slaughter. The footage was so damning that the abattoir was shut down. Fast-forward four months and another animal rights group, Animal Liberation, has captured workers in a NSW slaughterhouse beating fully conscious pigs to death, skinning sheep alive and enacting other horrifying acts of cruelty on goats and cattle.
The covert footage taken in both cases has finally brought to light an issue that is rumoured to be widespread throughout the meat processing industry.
Comments from the NSW Food Authority stating that these are ‘rogue operators’ is not suitable justification for resisting calls to install 24-hour CCTV in all Australian abattoirs. Better than catching the people who inflict this treatment upon animals, let’s use CCTV to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
After similar footage was aired in the United Kingdom in 2010 there was an enormous outcry across the country. They, too, were horrified that the animals being slaughtered for their consumption were enduring such extreme cruelty and they petitioned their supermarkets. As a result, many of the largest supermarkets in the UK stopped buying meat from processors that didn’t use CCTV and allow it to be monitored by independent animal welfare groups.
It just makes sense to monitor the actions of workers in slaughterhouses here in Australia. No one loses – except abattoir workers who either derive enjoyment from causing harm to animals or believe it is a more efficient way to get through their days’ work.