An Indonesian abattoir worker was paid to kick a cow in the head to provide the footage of animal cruelty that helped stop the live animal trade with Australia in June, a politician said on Wednesday.Animal rights activists rejected the allegation, which was made as a shipment of cattle prepared to leave port for Indonesia for the first time since the graphic images were shown in late May.
Liberal Senator Chris Back, who worked as a veterinary surgeon for 40 years, said in a Senate hearing in Canberra that a worker accepted money to brutalise the cow.
Back said a reliable source who had visited the abattoir in Sumatra told him a foreign man and woman and a driver had come to the abattoir and offered the worker 150,000 rupiah (US$17.50) to kick the beast."He kicked it a number of times and then stopped. They asked him to keep going and he did," he said.Australia suspended the live animal trade to Indonesia after footage of the cruelty was broadcast on state television.
Back said the worker was beaten and his wife raped in retribution for the loss of work.
But Lyn White from Animals Australia, which obtained the footage, dismissed the allegations as "very offensive"."The story you told about payment for deliberate cruelty is just so outrageous that the further suggestions that he's been ostracised, beaten and his wife raped should be taken in the same sense," White told the hearing."It simply did not occur."Back later said he accepted that White had no knowledge of any payments but told reporters he understood the driver paid money to slaughtermen in at least two abattoirs "so that the footage would be obtained".
The first shipment of cattle approved under a strict new licensing scheme was due to leave the northern port of Darwin in Australia for the Asian nation Wednesday.
Indonesia last month indicated it would import 180,000 cattle from Australia in the third quarter after Canberra lifted its live cattle export ban, and promised to audit and improve conditions at all its abattoirs.
Live exports, which also include sheep, were worth Aus$1.14 billion (US$1.18 billion) to the Australian economy in 2010 according to the most recent figures. Indonesia accounted for Aus$320 million, making it the biggest market.