14 July 2011
As an Australian citizen and taxpayer I do not support a business – live animal export - that systemically carries out massive animal abuse which is against the law and ethics of my country, and I do not support the taxes I pay being used to support this business.
While the Australia Government continues to allow the supply of animals to overseas facilities, knowing the treatment they will receive, it is 100% complicit in their abhorrent treatment.
While the Australia Government continues to allow the export of live of animals via sea voyages and their inherent “acceptable death ratios”, it is 100% complicit in the misery of those animals.
The live export business and Australian Government have knowingly supplied animals into barbaric abuse situations for years. Abuse situations that live export business participants would have been prosecuted for if they occurred in Australia.
The live export industry’s business model depends on systemic animal cruelty. The live export business, in the case of Indonesia, is not interested in sending animals only to the reported five abattoirs in Indonesia that consistently use stun guns – the trade volumes are not enough. They are not interested in sending boxed meat - that is their competitor’s business.
They are happy to send animals to appalling deaths because they have exported the cruelty to overseas jurisdictions and under current Australian law the liability is no longer theirs. They do not take responsibility, they just take the profit.
Other illegal acts perpetrated by Australian citizens overseas are prosecuted under Australian law, eg tax evasion, money laundering and paedophilia. Abuses against animals are currently not, and are integral to the live export business model.
Australian animals will continue to be subjected to unnecessary brutality while they continue to be exported to countries that have no laws or law enforcement to protect them from horrific cruelty, and where the Australian Government currently does not afford them any protection, such as insisting on minimum standards for correct handling, on-going surveillance and proper stunning before slaughter as a condition of trade.
Last month, the Government abandoned attempting to ensure that stunning before slaughter would be included as a condition of the resumption of live cattle export to Indonesia. It is necessary for Australia to influence international practices in the right and humane direction and to insist on proper and consistent stunning by importers as a bare minimum condition for Australian live animal export. Australia is by far the world’s number one exporter of cattle for slaughter in terms of volume, so we have enormous clout. Currently our live animal export practices are simply barbaric and our international shame.
The Government has now resumed the live export trade with Indonesia by allowing the industry to self-regulate. The live animal export industry cannot be trusted to do this as evidenced by the past 30 years of welfare exposés and crises in this business. The Australian public is sick and tired of these abuses and wants the trade stopped.
This untrustworthiness of the live export business is specifically evidenced by the MLA’s culpability in supplying Mark 1 restraint boxes to Indonesia and many other importing countries. Also, its total lack of independent supervision and audit of slaughter houses overseas. Every day supervision and audit at all slaughter sites needs to be independently provided by the Australian Government – either by Federal public servants directly or Federally-administered via a reputable animal welfare organisation such as the RSPCA. It cannot be entrusted to the live export business - not the MLA, Livecorp nor Sheepmeat.
Where importing nations decide to object to Australian Federal Government supervision and audit, they will simply not qualify to receive our animals.
I urge the Independent Review to refer to the research of Dr Temple Grandin, the world’s foremost cattle and slaughter expert, on acceptable methods and infrastructure for cattle slaughter. To provide you some context, Dr Grandin has worked with MacDonalds in the US for decades to successfully secure their supply chain against animal abuse.
In conclusion, I write to ask the Independent Review into the Live Export Trade to recommend closing the live export trade. The live export trade has never worked. It cannot be fixed. Any slight improvement in animal handling from the current crisis is likely to be short lived, patchy and temporary, even with the best intentions of both sides of government.
It is unacceptable that Australia currently participates in the live animal export trade – one of the largest organised abuses of animals in history.
Use your power to end this trade once and for all - to protect animals, to keep jobs in Australia, and lead Australia in attempting to become a compassionate and advanced nation.