Author Topic: 'Not guarded, not stage managed'. Lyn White corrects misleading assertions.  (Read 1708 times)

WA Export News

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None of my colleagues welcomed giving evidence - it is a stressful experience - but it is a walk in the park compared to giving evidence to the court of public opinion.

Last Thursday I spoke with Mr Bettles after a press conference I gave at Parliament House. During that press conference I willingly responded to his questions, which is why his assertion that I only make myself available for 'carefully guarded, stage-managed media' was so disappointing.
  Lyn White, Animals Australia Lyn White, Animals Australia

  OPINION: AFTER reading Colin Bettles’ article 'Whose ABC?', it was hard not to reflect on my 20 years policing - and to crave the anonymity of days spent gathering evidence to present to courts of law. 

Afterwards, I raised concerns with him that his reporting of issues was actively preventing producers knowing the truth and making informed decisions.   
Mr Bettles told me that producers don't want to know.   
I was shocked - not only because I didn't believe this was true - but because I had always thought that presenting the truth, regardless of whether it was considered unpalatable, underpinned the journalistic creed.
Since 2003, when I conducted my first investigation in Kuwait, I have worked from the belief that if producers were told the truth by exporters as to how their animals were being handled and killed, they would reconsider their support of the live trade.

In the years since, as I have borne witness to the treatment of exported animals in abattoirs and markets in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia, I have never swayed from that belief and therefore from the importance of bringing this evidence home.   

The histories of Egypt and Indonesia, and the failure of government and industry representatives to act on cruelty, present graphic examples as to why the media became the only available avenue to provide producers with the truth.

Evidence that the routine method of disabling cattle in Egyptian abattoirs was tendon slashing and eye stabbing was provided consistently to industry representatives and government from 2001 - including Animals
Australia bringing an eyewitness German vet to Australia to attest to it. LiveCorp admitted being aware of these abhorrent practices. Yet did they tell producers? No.

I vividly recall the morning standing in Bassateen abattoir in 2006, shocked by the carnage around me and the fact that any Australian industry representative had deemed this facility acceptable for Australian or any animals.   

Nearly one million Australian cattle had been sent to Egypt - most to be killed at this facility. I believe not one would have been sent had producers been told the truth by Australia’s live export industry.

Contrary to Mr Bettles’ suggestion, I used the word 'greed' in my recent interview with 7.30 not to attack the motivation of producers, but exporters.   

I have long considered producers to also be victims of the live trade. At a time when exporters and their representatives should have been apologising to producers for misleading them about the standards and infrastructure in the two approved facilities in Egypt, inconceivably, their first thought was getting more animals back into that country.   

Once again producers were told, 'if we stay in the market we can improve animal welfare'. Crafting PR spin to present an 'animal welfare' argument for supplying animals to cruel treatment is a rare skill. That this manipulative line is delivered with conviction to an audience they know will want to believe it, makes it all the more immoral and unconscionable.   

It is delivered knowing that the truth will remain hidden thousands of kilometres away, unless that annoying woman Lyn White reveals it again.   
Then we go to Plan B - and convince producers again that the cruelties she and her organisation document are 'isolated incidents', or that 'she's paid for some worker to be cruel', or the 'footage is old'.

But all the spin in the world cannot cloud the facts: Australian live exporters and MLA have been in the market in Egypt for almost 20 years and in Indonesia for 18 years prior to the 2011 investigation. Exporters cannot suggest cruelty wasn't routine in Indonesia when it was facilitated by 102 Mark I restraint boxes installed in over 60 abattoirs across Java and Sumatra. The MLA designed Mark I box, which facilitated roping slaughter, has since been banned on the basis of unacceptable cruelty. Did MLA tell cattle producers that their animals would be subjected to these brutal and distressing devices? No.

Mr Bettles rounded on the ABC in his article, but he ignored that it was one of Australia's most respected journalists, Channel 9’s Richard Carleton, who first recognised the need to reach Australian producers with the truth and dedicated three stories to the issue.   

The facts make clear that it is only when cruelty is publicly exposed, cruelty that industry representatives have long known about, that action is taken in any importing market.  DAFF and MLA representatives were sent to Egypt in the wake of the 7.30 story to protect the welfare of the remaining cattle for one reason only - because the public would accept no lesser action. 

The reason why Australian cattle are no longer subjected to the cruelty of Mark I boxes in Indonesia and that stunning is becoming more widely accepted there, is because vision aired of the terrible distress animals were enduring. The only reason why Australian sheep can no longer be trussed and stuffed into car boots in 45 degree temperatures in the Middle East is because vision was shown here in Australia.   

Having witnessed so much cruelty in importing countries, no-one is more passionate about creating needed change.  The absence of animal protection laws in many of these countries indicates that animal welfare is not yet on their agenda.   

Supplying live animals to these countries signals to them that there is no need to enact them. Was the live export industry to take a stand and say that we will only export Australian animals to countries where there are enforceable laws in place, I would be the first to applaud.  After all, how can we expect them to care for any animals, if we don't show that we care for our own?

Senator Ludwig was asked by the ABC to substantiate his claim that 99.9 per cent of exported animals have good animal welfare outcomes. This was an eminently fair question since the majority endure distressing manual restraint and fully conscious slaughter. He cannot say it's wrong to cut the leg tendons of live cattle and not at the same time say that it is similarly unacceptable to cut the throats of conscious cattle.   

Senator Ludwig expressed confidence in the operation of the new live export regulations to protect the welfare of exported animals. Yet breaches are primarily brought to the attention of DAFF by Animals Australia. 
MLA tells not DAFF, not sheep or cattle producers, but the exporters.

I left the police force, not because I had a driving ambition to become an animal advocate, but because of an unshakable belief in the capacity of my own kind to make just and ethical decisions if all the facts were presented for consideration. I still hold this belief.

Had Mr Bettles been with me on investigations in the Middle East and in Indonesia, it is likely his article would have been very different. He may have even stood by my side at last week's press conference to state, "producers need to know the truth".

The pictures and footage provided year after year don't lie.
We can agree to disagree on whether live export should continue or end, but it would be a travesty if within that debate the suffering of exported animals was denied.

22 May, 2013


« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 07:46:33 PM by WA Export News »