Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 31, 2011

Tuesday, 31st May 2011 – the end of Autumn but politics never change!

Yes, for the end of Autumn, we are enjoying a beautiful sunny Tuesday  – perhaps not so warm out of the sun, but it is a very pleasant to end a season, about 14 degrees this afternoon [though I believe even London will be warmer tomorrow!!!! We can’t allow that!

I’m actually home today, giving myself a day off, using a small part of my voluminous  hours of sick leave credits, most of which, God willing I will never get to use – nothing urgent on in the office needing my presence, so have decided a day of rest was justified! I actually made a bit of time this morning, to watch  an internet copy of last night’s ABC Program ‘4 Corners’  – afterwards, I almost wished I’d never bothered, as the subject matter left one feeling somewhat depressed and angry.   The program  showed graphic footage provided by Animals Australia and RSPCA that shows Australian cattle being mistreated in Indonesian slaughterhouses. There, cattle are often maimed and cruelly mistreated before slow and painful deaths that take agonising minutes after a cow’s throat is cut. What’s more, the callous slaughter is done using equipment paid for by Australian taxpayers, and the workers in Indonesia have supposedly been trained by Australians into the correct manner of using that equipment.  The video showing on the GET UP web site, and  the scenes depicted in the $ Corners program are quite horrific.  Needless to say, those who will most be affected by calls to stop the practices, and even stop the export of live cattle to Indonesia, are naturally enough being quite defensive about the whole process, but it is becoming obvious that there is no longer room for excuses from an industry that has over a decade to fix and remedy the problems.

I ;posted a comment on Face Book this morning –  ‘Meanwhile, I’m glad I didn’t watch Four Corners before Q & A last night – that viewing would have soured the rest of the night! Disgraceful story, of the manner in which Australian cattle are treated in the livestock trade in Indonesian abattoirs – even more sickening was the manner in which those who profit from the trade were so prepared to ‘defend’ the processes!!’
I also sent off a little message to a friend of my son who is often quite vocal in her defence of cruelty towards animals, etc –  I wrote – ‘Bek, last night’s Four Corners program [can be seen on the internet] on the live trade export to Indonesia – absolutely disgraceful treatment of our cattle exports, painful to watch the suffering and terror these animals are put through – the GET UP organisation currently have a campaign to do something about it, doubt the government will’.  Her reply came back soon afterwards with the comment that  ‘Thanks Bill 🙂 Yes, I have heard a few things about the show last night, there is also a petition floating around Facebook now from the people at Get Up … I did not watch it, but I can imagine what the content was because I have seen it so many times … Things are changing, slowly, and through creating awareness to what actually happens in this world I believe we are growing in numbers 🙂

The following is part of the verbal report that appeared on the 4 Corners Program, by Anne Worthington:-

‘Horrific footage from inside Indonesian abattoirs that use Australian cattle has revealed abuse of the animals is widespread. Footage to be aired, shows animals kicked, thrashed and beaten, their throats hacked at, eyes gouged and tails broken. According to analysis of the footage by RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones, some animals show signs of possible consciousness when they are dismembered. In March this year, animal welfare campaigners Animals Australia filmed in 11 randomly chosen abattoirs in Indonesia and provided the footage to Four Corners. More than a month later, a Four Corners team went to Indonesia and filmed in abattoirs where cattle suffered prolonged and painful deaths.

Animals Australia spokeswoman Lyn White brought Egypt’s live export trade to a halt in 2006 after exposing animal cruelty in Cairo.  She says her suspicions were raised after the live export industry released a report in January describing animal welfare in Indonesia as generally good.  “We had assumed that because there were greater level of industry involvement in Indonesia, the treatment of the livestock would have been better,” she said.

“But we couldn’t have been more wrong.” The abattoirs featured on Four Corners are well-known to the Australian industry, which has installed equipment and provided training in Indonesian abattoirs to help with the handling of Australian cattle since 2000. The live export industry was shown the vision from four Indonesian abattoirs prior to an interview. LiveCorp CEO Cameron Hall described the scenes as “graphic and disturbing”, and announced the suspension of the supply of Australian cattle to three of the four abattoirs.  The fourth abattoir, Gondrong in Jakarta, was the scene of sustained suffering by Australian animals. When asked why Gondrong is continuing to process Australian cattle, Mr Hall says training can address the issues. A statement released by industry last week said: “A team of Australian cattle experts will fly to Indonesia this weekend to deliver this training to priority facilities, including this facility.” But Four Corners has revealed the facility has already been visited six times by industry representatives in the past 14 months. There are 100 abattoirs in Indonesia that slaughter Australian animals. Since the trade began 20 years ago, more than 6.5 million cattle have been shipped to Indonesia for slaughter. Indonesia is Australia’s key market for live cattle exports, taking 60 per cent of all cattle, and in 2010, the trade was worth more than $300 million.

The Australian livestock export industry and the Australian Government have invested more than $4 million into improving animal welfare in Indonesia over the past 10 years. The majority of funding has been invested into Australian-designed metal restraining boxes. The RSPCA says the boxes are inadequate and stunning the animal prior to slaughter is the only humane option. There are currently only six Indonesian abattoirs that use stunning. Last week the industry launched its welfare action plan, which included providing stunning equipment to five additional abattoirs by the end of this year. The new plan also says from 2015, Australian livestock will only be supplied to facilities who meet the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) standards.  But Indonesia is already a signatory to the OIE.  Animals Australia spokeswoman Glenys Oogjes says Australia has no power to make Indonesia comply with these guidelines. “The OIE guidelines are minimal standards for developing countries that allow practices that are illegal in Australia to take place,” she said. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said in budget estimates last week that he had been concerned about the live animal trade for some time and criticised the industry for being too slow in addressing welfare concerns. But in April, during a speech to the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association in Darwin, he reiterated the Australian Government’s continued support of the live export trade.”The live animal export sector is the backbone of many rural and regional communities across Australia, including northern Australia, as it provides a valuable market option for producers,” he said’.

Not surprisingly, this topic formed a portion of the questions on last night’s Q & A Program which followed $ Corners. The panel this week consisted of  George Brandis [Queensland Liberal Senator], Kate Lundy [Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs], Guy Rundle [writer and commentator,  who in his own bio describes himself as ‘well-known for his irreverent reporting and caustic wit’], Jackie Kelly [former Liberal Minister], and  Joe Hildebrand [News Ltd columnist, who also describes himself as specialising in subjects he knows nothing about]. Seeing those two on the panel – Guy and Joe, I was a little bit cynical, taking trhe view that  they were a useful pair to have getting involved in a so-called serious discussion, or perhaps Q & A wants to head down the ‘Chaser garbage-run style of program.  Unusually, I really only made that comment to ‘stir up the possum’ a bit, expecting to get back to vigorous responses –  in fact last night, my Q & A entries on Face Book attracted no replies!!! Either my fellow viewers were not watching last night, or more likely, they had decided that they were getting a little tired of Bill’s inane reference to Q & A every week.  Fair enough, perhaps I should lay off the program a little.  Anyway, I probably had to eat my words a little – while the politicians on the panel proceeded to argue and yell at each other across the table with their usual  political slogans, the two members whom I felt were a liability, actually made some of the more sensible and relevant comments.

Another subject that made some comments yesterday on another forum related to the actions of our leaders in Federal Parliament during Question Time. I raised my concerns about this before, but this latest comment was aroused by a friend, who has somewhat different political views to myself,  raising the issue.  Now I don’t whether my lengthy response just got lost in cyber space, or whether my friend deleted it [!!], but it doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  I will assume the former, as Ann is not usually shy in responding to political viewpoints.  Anyway, can’t recall exactly what I said now, but watching Question Time in the House of Representatives of Federal Parliament this afternoon,  I felt my point was proved – on numerous occasions, the Speaker, Harry Jenkins had to [quite vigorously] call the Treasurer [of his own Party] into line for simply ignoring and/or refusing to obey the ‘Speaker’s’ request that he [the Treasurer] direct his responses to the question asked. As I noted yesterday, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are the worst offenders and abusers of parliamentary privilege and rules during Question Time. Usually, because the Speaker is of their ‘faith’ they can get away with it. But today, our esteemed Treasurer was so obviously in breach of the rules, that the Speaker virtually screamed at him to sit down and shut up [perhaps not in so many words, but the body language was there!]. My point made!

Putting politics, etc aside, I was expecting Susie to return from Bendigo tonight. But no, a message mid-afternoon, told me she did not expect to be back in Sunbury until Thursday!  Fair enough!  It was nice to have a little bit of advance knowledge for a change J  Meanwhile, despite having a day off from work, the old radio shows go ahead as usual –  6-8pm tonight with my Showtime program.  I was looking at my program records since starting 6 years ago [in May 2005, with the show I’m doing tonight – now No. 288], and calculated that in total, I have undertaken 894 individual or joint programs since May 2005. Quite proud of that figure, and when I first went on air, at 10 pm on Thursday night, 5th May that year, I could never imagined that I would still be there, and have contributed so many hours to the radio station. On that score, I have some changes planned [time slots/program formats, etc] in the near future, and am currently working towards that outcome. In the meantime, off to play some great music from Broadway, stage and screen, as usual, with a little interval special of the some folk artists from overseas tonight.!!

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