Live Export Shame

All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News June 22, 2014, 03:19:25 PM

: Cattle hit with sledgehammers and their spines severed. Live ex is cruel.
: WA Export News June 22, 2014, 03:19:25 PM
You canít keep hiding the ugly truth.

 IT was a spur-of-the-moment invite made on a muddy 42,000ha cattle property half an hour by helicopter out of Darwin Ė come on a live export ship to Indonesia, the locals asked, see for yourself.

I was up for it.

However, four months later in a nondescript garden of a Brisbane hotel, I sat opposite industry chiefs to listen to their litany of excuses as to why I couldnít, after all, witness first-hand the live animal export trade.

Turned out Iíd been left on dry land.

The industry would now only offer a visit to a loading dock in Australia, and held out a vague possibility of something better in the future, but only so long as I didnít cause any trouble.

      (http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2014/06/20/1226961/767869-9267874a-f752-11e3-83ca-a3d83c3c745e.jpg)   Indonesian workers unload Australian cattle from a ship in Jakarta. Picture: AFP
   
This is an industry with a lot of things to hide.

For a start, itís systemically cruel. And weíre not talking the exception here, but rather the norm, going by the frequent revelations of cruelty to Australian livestock in a remarkably broad range of countries.

No wonder New Zealand shut down its live animal export trade years ago.

Indeed, a glance around the globe shows Australiaís live export practices and regulations are a farce.

Jordan and Gaza are out of control.

In Vietnam cattle have been hit with sledgehammers and had their spines severed.

In Kuwait, Australian sheep are being sold in cruel and unapproved markets.

In Mauritius there is horrendous slaughter of Australian bulls.

Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Egypt and Indonesia are all subject to Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme investigations.

The treatment of Australian sheep in Pakistan is the stuff of nightmares.

The trade is also not in Australiaís economic self-interest because those cattle, sheep and other livestock should be processed in Australia. Instead thereís now not a single abattoir licensed for export north of a line running from Perth in the west to Townsville in the north.

In other words, the live trade has cannibalised the processed meat trade, and thousands of Australian workers have lost their jobs.

Any argument that the live trade is a win for farmers is simply untrue because numerous properties in the north of Australia are financially distressed with no relief in sight.

And the beef producers canít keep blaming the temporary suspension of the trade to Indonesia in 2011 for their continuing troubles.

Truth is, the main culprits are Woolworths and Coles, who are paying farmers no more now than they did a decade ago.

The prompt for the suspension of trade in 2011 was the ABCís Four Corners TV programís searing expose of the mistreatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia.

The nation reeled at the senseless brutality on their TV screens, and the intensity of the outcry shoved the Gillard government out of its complacency.

The trade was briefly suspended, then reopened with new welfare regulations designed to protect animals shipped overseas for slaughter.

Yet three years on and Australia has a new federal government and things have got worse, not better, with the Abbott Government excitedly talking about opening up new markets.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has given the green light to live export to Iran after a 40-year boycott.

This while regulations are routinely ignored and any effective oversight of the industry is left to noble welfare organisation such as Animals Australia.

This is a government content to treat animal cruelty as a growth industry even though the economics of the industry simply donít add up.

The export of livestock represents just 0.4 per cent of Australiaís total exports, while the domestic processing of sheep and cattle for local consumption and export is worth at least 16 times more to the economy than live export.

Opening up new abattoirs to slaughter the animals in Australia would actually create jobs and increase farmersí incomes.

I remain a staunch critic of the live export trade, and in February I introduced a Bill to ban live exports from 2017, my fourth legislative attempt to end the cruelty.

Iíll continue to fight for improved animal welfare practices more broadly, for instance for chickens, sows and puppies.

I agreed to go on a vessel to Indonesia, not because Iím about to end my opposition to the live trade, but because itís important to look for ways to improve animal welfare practices with the system weíve got.

In January, when the live animal exporters invited me to bunk down on a cattle ship and visit feedlots and abattoirs in Indonesia, they must have assumed Iíd say no.

They must have assumed I wouldnít have the stomach for it.

But they were wrong and this sent the hardheads in the industry into a tizz.

Well, my offer to go on a ship stands, but Iím not holding my breath because this is an industry with much to hide and, they think, too much to lose.

       (http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2014/06/20/1226961/768616-bf54b338-f809-11e3-83ca-a3d83c3c745e.jpg)   Andrew Wilkie.
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
FORMERLY an army officer and intelligence analyst, Andrew Wilkie is the independent Federal Member for Denison.
He has been an outspoken critic of the live export trade.


http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/you-cant-keep-hiding-the-ugly-truth/story-fnj4f64i-1226961768642 (http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/you-cant-keep-hiding-the-ugly-truth/story-fnj4f64i-1226961768642)