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Australia suspends cattle export to Indonesia over shocking images (UPDATES)

A documentary on conditions at slaughterhouses led to a public outcry.

Australia cattleEnlarge
Animal rights activists lie and sit on the pavement after stripping naked to hold a special "Die-In" in a central Sydney shopping mall on May 10, 2008, to protest live animal exports. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia suspended live cattle export to Indonesia Wednesday for up to six months over concerns of how the animals were being treated.

The suspension in exports comes after images of animals at slaughterhouses shocked Australians and led to a public outcry over the trade, AFP reports. The images were from an investigation into the slaughterhouses done by Australia's ABC broadcaster.

The trade, estimated at Aus $318 million (US$340 million) a year, will not resume until Indonesia implements safe guards that end the brutal slaughter of the animals.

"We need to establish sufficient safeguards to ensure exporters provide verifiable and transparent supply chain assurance up to, and including, the point of slaughter for every consignment that leaves Australia," Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig told AFP.

"I didn't want to put a timeframe on it (but) the current suspension is up to six months. It is important that industry use that period to work through and come up with supply chain assurance."

Last week, Canberra suspended exports to those slaughterhouses shown in the broadcast documentary, but Wednesday it moved to make a blanket ban, BBC reports.

The documentary showed steers being whipped, beat and slashed and being in a state of terrible pain before slaughter, it states.

Indonesia is the biggest market for Australian live cattle, the Wall Street Journal reports. Indonesia's growing population, expanding economy and rising incomes are leading people to Westernize their diets and eat more red meat, it states.

In response, Jakarta said Wednesday it could buy more beef from New Zealand and was not yet satisfied that a video showing brutal abuse of Australian cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses was authentic, Agence France-Presse reports.