Alison Penfold's/ALEC's spin doctoring won't stop the hurt - for the animals or the producers
Alison Penfold says they are “doing everything they can to put the assurances in place” – they most certainly are doing a lot of assuring of the Australian public that animal welfare is of the utmost importance, and they have voluntarily suspended trade to Egypt, but if THEY are doing everything they can, why is it never the industry – the exporters, the suppliers or DAFF that is exposing the cruelty and abuse – why are there no spot inspections, or monitoring of the facilities? How do they KNOW what standards are being met and how good the animal welfare is, if they’re never there to catch the breaches?
By Alison’s very own admission, they have suspended trade to a country to which we haven’t exported cattle in about 10 months; a country with which the live cattle trade is estimated to be worth $25 million – not a huge sacrifice in the scheme of things, but yes, it does make them sound pro-active, when in fact they are being very REactive.
No one is suggesting the trade be banned overnight – anyone who has a basic knowledge of the industry knows the kind of horrific domestic animal welfare problems and financial impact for producers that would arise with an overnight ban. We are calling for a phase out of live exports over a three to five year period – with assurances that the money, the work, the infrastructure, the labour – everything that is required to process locally is in place before shutting down this trade.
As for supplying a demand “While ever the customer demands live animals for their own protein needs, surely it's Australia - surely Australia should be doing what it can to service those needs.” The “if we don’t do it someone else will” is a lame argument to justify a trade that is intrinsically wrong and inherently cruel. If we don’t make money out of supplying drugs to schoolchildren, someone else will… the analogies are endless. What about saying “if we don’t set an example and say we do not accept this treatment of animals during their slaughter, we are in fact condoning it" – by continuing to supply animals for slaughter to markets that continue to abuse those animals, we are sending a message to the world that Australia condones this treatment.
It’s wrong on so many levels – YES, Australia has the space, capacity and the expertise to grow top quality animals for human consumption – why then would we cram then on a ship for two…three… up to five weeks, and send them off to countries which struggle to meet and often fail to meet even the very low OIE standards that we have mandated for the handling and slaughter of those animals? Why would we ship offshore all the jobs and value adding that is associated with the supply of those animals? Why would producers NOT want to see their animals they claim to care about so much, slaughtered in Australian abattoirs, to Australian standards, in the most humane way possible and where there are at least SOME measures in place to try to minimise their suffering, and see the profits and jobs stay in Australia?
The sheep prices fell in the West and the flock numbers rose because of the loss of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and any other traditional markets for the Dorpas and Damaras that refused to, or did not meet ESCAS requirements – this is why we would say that a chilled only trade supplies the producer with a much more reliable and consistent market – it is not influenced by the red tape of having to meet handling and slaughter standards in importing countries, it is not hampered by the whims, vagaries, egos, political processes or corruption of importing countries
How can a chilled meat trade worth $7 billion possibly not absorb a live trade worth less than $1 billion if the time, effort and money is put into developing viable domestic processing for the animals that are currently exported live? Yes – importing countries can have all the Australian animals they want, but they MUST go on the hook and not on the hoof.
In the end, the fact is, there can realistically be no control over the handling and slaughter of animals once they leave this country - we owe them more than this. How many isolated incidents make up an epidemic?
Katrina Love, Stop Live Exports
Alison Penfold of the Australian Live Exporters Council's interview on ABC's LateLine - interview here.