The Department of Agriculture has been investigating a possible breach of the live export regulatory regime for more than a month.
In a statement the department said it believed, based on appearance, some cattle in the footage are Australian.
“However, we are working to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident including verifying the source, date, time and location of the footage,” the statement said.
“The department, as the regulator or the livestock export trade, takes all reports of animal welfare breaches seriously, and investigates all complaints against the relevant regulatory framework.”
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has seen the footage and says the Department of Agriculture should act quickly.
“I’m calling upon the department to seriously consider very quickly issuing ‘just cause’ notices to any company it’s investigating as a result of these allegations,” he said.
“The ‘just cause’ notice of course will put the onus on company to show cause why their licence should not be suspended until that investigation is complete.
“My concern is that there is no indication that investigation will be complete by the end of this year and indeed it’s likely to be well into the new year before the department comes to any conclusions.”
Greens MP Adam Bandt has also seen the video, and says his party will re-introduce legislation to end the live export trade and shift to processed meat exports.
“I think anyone who watches this footage and sees images of Australian cattle being stabbed in the eye, having their throats slit while still alive and being taunted and tortured would understand that now is the time to end the live export trade,” he said.
Animals Australia says it has distributed the footage to all members of Parliament.
Footage part of a ‘vendetta’, graziers say
But Nationals MP Andrew Broad says he has not seen the video.
“Let’s be clear about this. We live in the real world, the world where we’ve got to export products, where we provide meat for developing countries,” he said.
“Some countries in the world such as Jordan, a very high proportion of their red meat protein comes out of live exports and we’re always there, always trying to lift the standards of animal welfare.”
Meanwhile, the WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) says it believes much of the footage released by animal welfare groups showing alleged mistreatment of Australian livestock overseas was a “constructed set-up”.
Singling out Animals Australia, PGA president Rob Gillam said while the revelations were disturbing, there was a good chance it was part of a “vendetta” against livestock producers.
“It always seems to come from Animals Australia and we don’t seem to hear them having much of a problem with how animals in the rest of the world are treated,” he said.
“It would appear that Animals Australia seem to be carrying out a worldwide vendetta against Australian livestock exporters and farmers.
“They always seem to be able to come up with some dreadful footage and I’m not so sure that a lot of this stuff is not set up.”