Australia's ruling Labor party voted against a phase-out of live animal exports following the temporary halting of cattle shipments to Indonesia earlier this year on cruelty concerns.
Canberra froze cattle exports to its Southeast Asian neighbour for several weeks in June after a graphic documentary aired on Australian television about cruelty to cows in Indonesian abattoirs, prompting a public outcry.
Trade was reinstated after Jakarta agreed to a strict new permit system requiring exporters and slaughterhouses to guarantee animal welfare standards.
A plan to phase out live animal exports over the next four years was debated at Labor's national policy summit Sunday, with delegates arguing for slaughter and processing to be kept in Australia to create jobs and protect livestock.
But the party voted 215 to 173 to maintain the trade, following speeches by Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig and politicians from regional areas who said it was vital to the economy and for Australia's trade relations.
A linked call to make stunning of animals mandatory before slaughter was also defeated.
Australia shipped 728,000 head of cattle overseas in 2010-11 and 2.9 million sheep, with the total annual trade worth more than Aus$1 billion.