ban live export
We Boots headed into town yesterday morning to lend our voices, and ultimately our votes, to a cause we passionately support – the banning of the live export of sheep, cattle and goats from Australia to countries in South East Asia and the Middle East.
Since its inception over thirty years ago, millions of Australian animals have been cruelly loaded into huge ships, transported thousands of miles – regularly taking over a month to travel from farm to market – and offloaded into marketplaces where there are no laws regarding the acceptable treatment and slaughter of domesticated animals.
Along the way, hundreds of thousands of these animals die from diet-related diseases, salmonella, heat stress, over crowding, disease, and physical trauma. In 2008 alone, 35,000 sheep died en route to the Middle East. How could such loss possibly be part of a profitable business model!?!?
In reponse to horrific evidence obtained last year from Indonesian abattoirs, the Australian Federal Government introduced new regulations regarding the welfare of exported Australian animals. This legislation is utterly ineffective, as amply proved by events in the Middle East over the last few weeks.
Australian sheep transported to Bahrain – under the new legislation – were deemed unacceptable for human consumption due to the presence of a common disease, scabby mouth – the disease status being hotly disputed by the Australia Department of Agriculture. As such, the exporters were refused permission to unload their already suffering stock and the sheep were then stranded at sea for two more weeks until a bungled deal was stitched up between the Australian regulators, the exporters and Pakistan. The sheep were at last unloaded, to this …
‘Like a giant mass of wool, bloodied and filthy, they lay in trenches – slit open, stabbed or clubbed to death, while many still wriggled with some life left in them, soon to be buried alive. This was the horrific and brutal fate that the Australian sheep, which provincial authorities had claimed were diseased, met after their culling was ordered.’ (The Age)
Simply one more example, in a long history of brutality, that live export – and its inevitable outcomes – are unacceptable to a community that values life and the welfare of all the sentient beings who share this land.
Now, I’m no vegetarian and I’m also aware that we Australians do not always model perfect animal welfare practices. We can do better. We can always do better. We have an obligation to do better (if you need any further evidence let me remind you about what was happening in a small abattoir west of Sydney last year!). And this includes following New Zealand’s efforts (they banned live export in 2003) and saying to our trading partners that we do not place easy money above the dignity and wellbeing of living creatures.
That stuffing three fully grown sheep into the boot of a car is UNACCPETABLE. That slashing the leg tendons of cattle and gouging out their eyes in order to make them compliant is UNACCEPTABLE. That claiming such behaviour is okay because it’s culturally or religiously based is UNACCEPTABLE.
It is medieval barbarity and we should not be part of it. We should be taking an active, international role in STOPPING it. We did it with whaling, we can do it with live export. We can be leaders in animal welfare, not perpetrators of torture.
Any farmer that sends his or her animals off for live export does not care for their animals’ wellbeing and any calls they make for us to understand their predicament because heck, they’ve put up with drought, is deserving only of our disbelief and disregard.
I know many farming families who have done it tough through drought, climate change and unstable economic times, and their response? Farm smart, find new ways of doing things better, more efficiently, more sustainably. They don’t turn to live export for a quick, tainted buck. Relying on live export as your means of deriving a farming income, is lazy and unethical farming.
The dollar signs speak for themselves. Even the government themselves acknowledge that Australia makes 8 times more money every year from selling CHILLED MEAT – that is, meat from Australian livestock that have been slaughtered and processed here in Australia – to the very same Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries that we continue to export live animals to. 8 TIMES MORE MONEY. Do we need to hear that figure again? 8 TIMES MORE MONEY.
Independent financial reports have concluded that not only would there be no job losses should live export be banned, but there would be JOB INCREASES because we would have to build and operate more slaughter and processing facilities to meet international demand for our meat. We would increase Australia’s productivity – something we could do with right now!
And, because these facilities would operate in Australia, we are able to insist upon the humane transport and slaughter of these animals, as well as prosecute any failures to adhere to acceptable standards.
Any farmer, industry spokesperson or politician that declares our new humane live export legislation protect Australian livestock overseas is simply WRONG – as the horrific circumstances in Pakistan prove. We lose any control over the wellbeing of these animals the moment they leave our shores.
To any readers who only happened to see the rally’s distorted coverage on the ABC – there were thousands of protestors – not hundreds. In order to safely accomodate the thousands of concerned and passionate citizens, the police had to close off the street.
Nor was it simply a rally addressed by the Greens – Lyn White (Animals Australia activist), Kelvin Thomson (Federal Labor Party MP) and Dr. Hugh Wirth, (President of the RSPCA, Victoria) all spoke with informed passion and wit. We learnt so much and had our determination to help ban live export cranked up to new heights.
This was a rally and is an issue of concern to the vast majority of Australians from all walks of life. Heck – even the Meatworkers Union was there!
If you would like to learn more, check out the RSPCA’s website and go here for take action resources.
As my hero Hugh F-W says, “There is no meat without the death of a warm-blooded, sentient animal – and those that eat meat must take responsibility for these deaths.”
Since it has been proven again and again that we cannot make those to whom we export our animals responsible for their welfare and provide them with humane deaths, we cannot, we MUST NOT continue this trade.
BAN LIVE EXPORT