Author Topic: Reliving the live ex ban  (Read 983 times)

Export News Tasmania

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Re: Reliving the live ex ban
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 07:29:26 PM »
Typical foot in both camps commentary from the RSPCA, but why should we be surprised? As for the rest ... just unbelievable.

Export News Tasmania

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Reliving the live ex ban
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 07:28:07 PM »
WHEN the controversial ABC Four Corners program “A Bloody Business” broadcast dramatic images of shocking and cruel treatment of Australian cattle slaughtered in Indonesian abattoirs on May 30 last year, Cattle Council of Australia chief David Inall watched nervously in Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Sydney boardroom, along with seven other key industry representatives.    

After the documentary - which damned their industry - finished, Mr Inall and his colleagues sat in stunned silence, contemplating the gravity of what they’d witnessed.
“It was the longest pregnant pause I’ve probably ever experienced in a group,” said Mr Inall.

  David Inall.David Inall.

“We sat there for about five minutes saying nothing, knowing that what was coming our way was going to be huge.
“But then nobody could have really prepared for just how big it was going to be.”
Cattle producers and the live export industry knew they were under siege from animal rights groups like Animals Australia who’ve declared they won’t stop campaigning until the trade is shut down forever.
Images of animal cruelty had been televised before on other programs, subjecting the industry to intense public scrutiny, even causing the suspension of cattle trade to Egypt in 2006. But this time the mood was completely different.
Immediately after Four Corners broadcast the horrific images of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs RSPCA Australia, Animals Australia and GetUp joined forces with an unlikely bedfellow, the Australian Meat Industry Employers Union, to launch a concerted attack on the live export industry, spearheaded by Animals Australia investigator Lyn White.
Mr Inall said his industry had seen unpleasant images from other countries before, but the Four Corners expose was the first time the Indonesian market had been targeted. He said they first caught wind something explosive was brewing two months before the May 30 telecast, when ABC researchers had started asking probing questions of industry members.
“But the footage we saw in the ABC program was far worse than we’d ever expected.”
Mr Inall said he’d spent many years working in the Indonesian market and had never seen anything like what was shown in the ABC’s footage, a sentiment echoed by others operating in the Indonesian market.
“We’ve been criticised by some of our own members for not being well enough prepared, but there’s only so much preparation you can do when it’s the biggest news story of the year,” he said.
“According to our media monitoring, it was the sixth-biggest news story of the past five years.”
The government’s initial response was to announce an independent investigation of the video evidence presented via Four Corners by former Jakarta envoy Bill Farmer and suspend trade to the 11 individual Indonesian abattoirs identified in the program.
But a week later on June 6 a back bench revolt sparked the export trade suspension, against departmental advice warning of industry damage.
RSPCA Australia chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones conceded the live export industry had endured hardship in the past 12 months.
But she said huge benefits had also come about for animal welfare.
Dr Jones said the situation had not changed as much as the RSPCA would have liked, but applauded the supply chain assurance program now in place - the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) - covering 75 per cent of live exports and representing a “massive improvement”.
That system was tested by the government’s first official investigation of supply chain breaches in Indonesian abattoirs, based on video footage presented to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) by Animals Australia in February which aired on ABC’s Lateline program in March.
Dr Jones said the live export industry had come to understand how much genuine public concern existed around animal welfare issues.
She said it was unfortunate - from the industry’s point of view - it took the Four Corners program to jolt the government and industry into introducing a welfare system “that should have been there already”.
Mr Inall said Animals Australia and the RSPCA’s strategy of placing the Australian government at the centre of responsibility for animal welfare in the Indonesian market had succeeded - hence the new ESCAS system.
His biggest disappointment was that nobody stood up last year to acknowledge Indonesia was one of Australia’s key trading partners.
He was also disappointed media questioning failed to ask if the footage was a typical representation of conditions.
“There was a strong theme that what we saw on the ABC was typical of how all Australian animals are killed in Indonesian abattoirs, but that’s not true,” he said.
“There was a range of capabilities, with some abattoirs using stunning and others that didn’t.”
Mr Inall said media coverage in the days after May 30 had been intense, but things went “viral” a week later when Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig suspended trade.
Shutting the trade abruptly also created a significant shift in the public debate, he said.
Sympathy moved sharply towards the industry, based on the inherent contradictions of hurting Australian producers while creating a potentially catastrophic domestic animal welfare crisis.
“The irony for me was that people were attacking us - some of my colleagues received serious threats - but we’ve continued to maintain a constructive relationship with the organisation pivotal to this, the RSPCA.”
Dr Jones said the RSPCA considered there was still a lot of work to be done to protect animals from cruelty in live export markets.
“Our position is still we’d still like to see an end to live exports,” she said.
“Animals still have to go through journeys that are unnecessary when they could be slaughtered here in Australia.
“We understand there’s a process of transition to make that an effective option, and would like to see investment in infrastructure, research and development in that area.”
But Dr Jones welcomed the increase in the practice of stunning animals before slaughter within the complex Indonesian abattoir system as a result of the suspension.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) said 81 per cent of approved facilities in Indonesia now use stunning – compared to 16pc before the export ban.
However, Dr Jones said the language used by the Australian government around stunning remained unsatisfactory, with the practice only encouraged in live export markets and not yet made compulsory.

06 Jun, 2012 12:00 AM BY COLIN BETTLES
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 07:52:27 PM by WA Export News »