Labor MP hits out at Ag dept over cattle

Rashida Yosufzai

An outspoken Labor backbencher has accused the federal agriculture department of a conflict of interest over regulating animal welfare.

Melissa Parke says the department is not doing enough to monitor the live export trade amid fresh allegations Australian cattle are being slaughtered with sledgehammers in Vietnamese abattoirs.

As the department investigates the claims to see if they're related to previous complaints about Vietnam, the WA MP is calling for a new independent body to monitor breaches.

"We've got to the point where it's becoming clear the department is not able to properly regulate the trade of live exports," she told AAP on Thursday.

Ms Parke says animal activists are routinely raising issues of breaches rather than the department actively investigating exporters' compliance.

She wants a parliamentary committee on animal welfare to be reinstated to provide oversight and make recommendations to government on reform.

That would be an interim measure before an independent office of animal welfare could be established.

Labor's legislation to set up such an office lapsed before the coalition came to power in 2013.

"(The office) can have oversight and not have the conflict of interest the department of agriculture has," Ms Parke said.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government has defended its livestock slaughtering processes in a statement issued via its Canberra embassy.

It said Vietnam had strict protocols for transportation and humane slaughtering processes, and its abattoirs are monitored by veterinary departments and agencies.

The embassy has forwarded the latest animal cruelty claims to authorities for clarification.

"Proper actions would be taken if it is a case," the statement said.

The Australian Veterinary Association said more needs to be done to improve supply chains.

Images of the use of sledgehammers issued by Animals Australia were "extremely shocking and completely unacceptable".

The department said it investigated every animal cruelty claim and where verified, exporters were required to address the issue or stop using non-compliant facilities.

Information is being sought from other regional exporters to check if further breaches have occurred.

"Exporters have now taken additional measures to control the movement and traceability of livestock within Vietnam," the department said in a statement to AAP.

It also confirmed the latest report related to three previous exporters who dobbed themselves in for non-compliance back in March.