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Strip Federal Agriculture Department from Live Exports Management

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A LABOR backbencher has suggested the federal agriculture department should be stripped of its oversight of live animal exports following the latest allegations of the mistreatment of Australian sheep in Kuwait.

Animals Australia in August filmed sheep being cruelly slaughtered in a banned Kuwaiti meat market.

The footage was shown on national television on Thursday night.

"It is a matter of concern to me that it's taken the efforts of Animals Australia to bring these breaches to the attention of the government," federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson told ABC Radio on Friday.

"I'm increasingly of the view we should take responsibility for animal welfare out of the agriculture department altogether and put it somewhere else like the department of health."

Mr Thomson said the latest allegations were "serious" and if it was proven that exporters had sold animals outside the approved supply chain they should be stripped of their licences.

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Australia suspended live animal exports to Indonesia in mid-2011 after ABC television's Four Corners program aired video depicting the mistreatment of animals.

Exports resumed a month later after an agreement was reached on new standards for the treatment of livestock bound for slaughter.

The exporter supply chain assurance system was extended to cover Kuwait in March this year.

The agriculture department says it has launched an investigation into the most recent incident.

"If these animals hypothetically have been moved outside of that supply chain that would be a breach and we'd make a judgment about the compliance response we'd need to make," department deputy secretary Phillip Glyde told ABC television on Thursday.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie says the revelations of cruelty in Kuwait makes a mockery of the government's efforts to clean up the industry.

"Australia's live animal export safeguards remain ineffective and our livestock, in particular cattle and sheep, are still being routinely abused en route to and in overseas markets," Mr Wilkie told AAP in a statement.

The Tasmanian MP has given notice of another private member's bill to mandate the stunning of all Australian livestock before they are slaughtered overseas.

He plans to introduce it into parliament on Monday.

The RSPCA says the footage exposes the "complete inability" of the exporter supply chain assurance system to protect Australian animals.

RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones wants the government to immediately require the stunning of all live exports before slaughter.

"Once again we have seen the failings of this regulatory system," Dr Jones said in a statement.

"First Indonesia, now Kuwait. How many times do we have to see these breaches before something more is done?"

Animals Australia in February released footage of Australian cattle still being inappropriately killed in Indonesian abattoirs.

At the time the group said its video proved workers couldn't even be relied upon not to start cutting up Australian animals before they were dead.

Thursday night's footage shows sheep being killed on top of other dying animals in Kuwait.

One sheep has its throat cut more than 20 times with a short knife.


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