Non-decision on non-stun slaughter

On October 28th, primary industries ministers passed on a critical opportunity to close a legal loophole that was permitting some Australian abattoirs to kill sheep without stunning.

PUBLISHED ON: 28 October 2011

Encouraged by messages from tens of thousands of Australians, ministers were very aware that the Australian people would not accept the brutal slaughter of fully conscious animals.

Given the overwhelming scientific evidence that non-stunned slaughter causes extreme pain and distress to animals before death, and clear public sentiment, we are profoundly disappointed that the ministers failed to make a decision — citing the need to 'continue discussions with the religious groups'.

Four and a half years have passed since Animals Australia first learned of exemptions granted to some abattoirs to practice non-stunned ritual slaughter. When alerted to this in July 2007 we immediately lodged a complaint with the then Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGuaran, who called for a review of the practice.

Since that time, the primary industries ministerial Council (PIMC) has been presented with two Australian scientific reviews and has been given more than ample time for consultation with the Australian community and religious stakeholders.

Today's non-decision by the PIMC demonstrates that the ministers have been unable to endorse the practice of conscious ritual slaughter in light of the scientific evidence that non-stunned slaughter causes severe distress, pain and fear. But, unable to appease minority religious interests, ministers have avoided having to make a decision, passing on this important opportunity to protect some 250,000 sheep from brutal deaths every year.

It is a legal standard to stun animals unconscious in Australian abattoirs and this occurs for over 99% of animals killed. Stunning is largely accepted by both Islamic and Jewish communities, indicating that exemptions to practice conscious slaughter in Australia exist to satisfy only a small ritual slaughter market.

The PIMC is due to reconvene in six months, when the issue of ritual non-stun slaughter is expected to again be on the agenda. Given the evident cruelty involved in non-stun slaughter, and the ministers' failure to endorse current practices, Animals Australia is calling on the federal and state Governments to immediately revoke the exemptions issued to some abattoirs to practice non-stun killing.


The primary industries ministers have failed to represent the Australian community and use their power to close a cruel legal loophole. Please urgently contact your state and federal Agriculture minister asking that they immediately revoke the exemptions to non-stun slaughter in Australia, given the clear scientific evidence that this practice causes preventable fear, pain and distress.

  • FEDERAL: Minister Joe Ludwig:
  • VIC: Minister Peter Walsh:
  • NSW: Minister Katrina Hodgkinson:
  • SA: Minister Gail Gago:
  • QLD: Minister Tim Mulherin:
  • WA: Minister Terry Redman:
  • TAS: Minister Bryan Green:
  • ACT: Minister Simon Corbell:
  • NT: Minister Kon Vatskalis:

Stunning is effective in the vast majority of cases, however even in the most well managed facilities there is always a risk that the stunning procedure may fail. A small percentage of animals may need to be stunned again before losing sensibility, and on rare occasions animals may even 'wake up' during the slaughter process. Whilst prior stunning is the only way to ensure that slaughter is conducted in a remotely humane way, the truth is that the only way individuals can be certain that animals do not suffer during slaughter, is to consider cruelty-free alternatives.

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