Author Topic: Why we must end cruel live export 8.3.2012  (Read 997 times)

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Why we must end cruel live export 8.3.2012
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 11:30:58 AM »
These past few weeks have shown us that ending live export cruelty can only end when we end live export.

 So it turns out abattoirs aren't nice places. Not the kind of place to take the kiddies to show them life down on the farm. In the last few weeks we have seen cruelty in both Australian slaughterhouses and in Indonesia where apparently we are 'ensuring' last year's horror house of events is never repeated. None of us will ever be able to forget the look of terror in the eyes of the cow awaiting slaughter as she watched and heard her mate butchered.

I was shocked last year to discover that far from the exposť on animal cruelty having cost the live export industry massive losses, the biggest loss the industry had suffered in the past 24 months was the ever changing requirements of the Indonesian government who wish to be self sustainable by 2014. That's just two years away. As this date approaches the Indonesian government understandably looks to phase out live imports to support its own industry, lest it go "cold turkey" on meat. Over half a million cattle were left stranded up north in 2010 when the import weight restriction was suddenly reduced, meaning our massive overweight beasts had nowhere to go. In response the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) has been conducting feasibility reports on a new northern abattoir. In February of last year, RM Williams magazine Outback praised the ingenuity of farmers looking for alternate markets to live export due to the turmoil. These facts were largely ignored during the live export hype of last year. The industry claimed a northern abattoir would never work and it's live export or bust. However, a competing abattoir is trying to open up near the AACo proposed site, much to AACo's chagrin. Apparently someone thinks there is money to be made by value adding and selling chilled and frozen meat instead of live export.

There is no escaping the facts. The live export industry is inherently cruel. Free roaming animals sent to sea only to be slaughtered off-shore is not a pleasant tale by anyone's measure. These semi-wild animals, being handled and transported on cramped ships, is the most stressful part of their existence and many don't make the journey. We have put so much attention on Indonesia. What about the animals we ship to the Middle East, to other parts of Asia? Often their journeys are far longer, under far more strained conditions with an arguably even more horrific slaughter. When Outback congratulates farmers for looking at alternatives, I can't but help agree. When New Zealand phased out live export to sell chilled and frozen, their profits increased. Their markets expanded.

In a perfect world there would be no need for abattoirs. There are strong and valid arguments that we should not be farming any cattle or hard hoofed animals in the ecologically sensitive Top End. Northern Australian farmers would be well placed to consider alternative industries for the long term. But in the short term, change is just not going to happen.

Northern abattoirs would create much needed employment, onshore value adding and increase market options for the Top End. From a welfare point of view, put CCTV in the slaughterhouse, oversee the entire process, and the animals have less distance to travel and more local protection. When they leave our shores they are on their own, beyond our jurisdiction and protection. In fact, I would argue that southern abattoirs are just as, if not more, essential. Surely as a nation we can do better than live export for the animals that built our economy. Where once we boasted we were riding on the sheep's back, now we have a knife in it.

As a community, the Northern Rivers district has always been vocal about social justice, and animal protection is the next social justice movement. Those of us who took to the streets in protest last year, who signed petitions, who attended lectures and community forums - (and those who regret they didn't) - write to your MP and PM. Let them know live export must end.

Anna Ludvik

The live export industry is inherently cruel.

Why we must end cruel live export

Anna Ludvik is a founder of the SCU Animal Law Club and a member of the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre's Animal Law and Education Project.

Anna Ludvik | 8th March 2012