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Two questions

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GK:
PS! Sorry, forgot your other part! ALL Australian sheep are stunned in ESCAS approved facilities. That's the law.

GK:
Hi Lyn,

I think what they mean by that is that Australia has high standards (the most regulated live export standards in the world), and many countries have none at all.

If we stop exporting livestock, the demand for that meat will be filled by countries where there is no protection for the welfare of animals in the food chain, and therefore overall there will be more animals bred in the places where eg. they don't care if people tie up the animals and put them in the boots of their cars, or cut them to pieces while they're still alive.

I don't believe the argument is that Australia's high standards necessarily affect other countries laws or governance of animal welfare, but I do know that the abattoirs that are ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme) approved process animals from countries other than Aus, and in that sense those animals are handled as if they are Australian.

If ESCAS wasn't there, the story overseas would change as they view animals completely differently to us. If Live Export closes down, yes ESCAS will be defunct and the abattoirs and feedlots may well do as they always did.

I know some Australian people assist the overseas facilities to improve the way they work with the animals, and if there's no need for that level of care in handling, they'll obviously stop. So that is another way, I guess.

GK

 

Lyn:
This is my first post here, though I've been 'lurking' for some years.  I have followed the live export coverage for years too, and I have some questions, - not about the morality (or lack of) but about the arguments trotted out repeatedly by the LE supporters.

One of the favourites is that our high standards of animal welfare mean that standards are improving in overseas destinations.  That if we stopped the trade welfare standards would plummet.  This is used as justification so very often that one might think exporters were motivated by altruism rather than profit.

But what I can't discover to my satisfaction is whether there is any truth to this at all.  In other words, have our 'high' standards influenced the welfare of non-Australian animals at all?  When the Govt or the exporters have invested in abattoirs or other facilities, are non-Oz animals processed there too by highly trained slaughter-men using stunning or (at least) very sharp knives?  Does ESCAS have any effect on handling and slaughter practices for these animals?  Or as I suspect, is it business as usual, with attention being given only to our animals because otherwise Animals Australia will expose cruelty.  Is this argument really just wishful thinking by LE supporters?

The next question is a topic that has puzzled me greatly.  Many people including Joe Ludwig point to the fact that almost 80% of our cattle are stunned before slaughter now in Indonesia as a result of the furore last year.  This is extrapolated to 'prove' that we are serious about welfare and has been used in defence during this latest outrage.

What I simply cannot fathom is how this relates in any way at all to sheep sent to the Middle East.  Apples and oranges!  I can't find out from DAFF if any of these sheep are stunned before slaughter.  I have asked for percentages comparing cattle and sheep slaughter methods, but never got a reply.  I doubt if many sheep are stunned before their throats are slashed - but no-one ever mentions this.  Am I wrong?  There are certainly many photos of sheep inhumanely killed, - but what would have happened to the Ocean Drover shipment in Bahrain?  Wouldn't this be a decent anti-LE argument if I am right?

Lastly the economic argument.  I know many pastoralists depend on this trade and the effect on them is often referred to in its defence.  This may unfortunately be true in the north where there are too few options.  But surely it is different in the south?  Twenty years ago many regional towns had small abattoirs that employed locals.  They closed.  I've read that about 40,000 jobs were lost as a result.  Surely the live trade benefits the big exporters most, not towns and small communities.  What would be so dreadful about depriving Wellard or Emmunuel of some of their trade and re-establishing a local industry?  It is always discussed as if it is a simple choice between live exports or total ruin for farmers.   It isn't.

I notice today's Weekly Times has coverage of the Pakistan incident, but the editorial is firmly pro-LE, using the arguments I have discussed above.   So do politicians other than the Greens and some Independents.  I am so sick of reading about the trade's great contribution to animal welfare abroad, to farmers' incomes and how seriously exporters take their responsibilities.  With the implication that inevitable doom would follow if it was scrapped.


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