Posted by: jkirkby8712 | June 9, 2011

Wednesday, 8 June 2011 – action on live stock exports

The announcement by the Prime Minister that there is a total ban on the export of livestock to Indonesian abattoirs, while good news for those campaigning for such actions following last week’s public revelations of the atrocious manner in which many of the Australian exports are slaughtered in Indonesia, is obviously not going to be received with such delight by the cattle industry in Australia, and that is perfectly understandable. I think the ban is for a period of 6 months at this stage, at which time it will be reconsidered in the light of any changes which have or have not been made to the methods used at Indonesian abattoirs.

However, the following is the manner in which in the GET UP organisation responded to the decision, though the implication that this organisation was totally responsible for the implementation of the ban is a little over the top – the national reaction was far more widespread than just their efforts. Nevertheless, the success, in terms of their short campaign should be recognised. The email letter read as follows.

“This morning Prime Minister Gillard announced an immediate suspension of live exports to Indonesia. To every single one of the 236,000 Australians who have been part of this campaign: congratulations!  Last week, many of us across the nation were shocked to see footage recorded by the courageous team at Animals Australia in Indonesian abattoirs. So when Animals Australia and the RSPCA invited GetUp members to join the campaign, together we responded with the fastest growing campaign in GetUp history.  Over 230,000 of us joined the petition to Julia Gillard and the Agriculture Minister in just one week. Not only that, but together we chipped in over $300,000 for rapid response TV and radio ads calling on the Prime Minister to end the cruel practice!
Our friends at Animals Australia and the RSPCA have poured their hearts into this campaign. They have stood witness first hand to animal cruelty that most of us can barely stand to watch on a TV screen. The credit for today’s sucess belongs very much to them. But it also belongs to every single person who made this people-powered campaign such a force over the last week. Today’s announcement marks a radical improvement on the Government’s stance from just days ago. There can be no doubt that by creating a huge, hard-hitting advertising campaign and one of the largest petitions in Australian history, every single person involved in this campaign helped shift the Government from a quick political fix to a serious response.

Sadly, there is no guarantee that there isn’t horrific animal cruelty happening right now in other countries because of the live export trade. That’s why it’s important to forward this email to your friends and family and ask them to sign the petition to end live exports too. This isn’t the end of our efforts to stop the cruel practice of live exports to Indonesia. Over the coming months we’ll continue to work closely with Animals Australia and the RSPCA to carefully scrutinise the Government’s commitment, and ensure that never again are Australian taxes allowed to fund such callous animal cruelty in these slaughterhouses”.

But, not surprisingly, the ban has earned the ire of Australian farmers and exporters, and also Indonesia itself.  According to one Queensland rural mayor, the ban will send many beef producers to the wall. Speaking from Boulia in Queensland’s central west, Rick Britton says the ban will have a devastating effect on cattle producers in northern Australia. “We’ve just come out of a 10-year drought where people were financially strapped trying to keep their core breeders alive,”  “Now this, on top of that, will send people to the wall and I’m talking about family-operated businesses that are going to go broke.”  Mr Britton said Indonesia would simply shop elsewhere to meet its needs and Australian producers would pay the price.  The  view of others is that  it will take Indonesia a long time to improve its abattoirs, because of the poor standard of much of their infrastructure, so our government needs to get over there and help Indonesia do the right thing and improve the killing conditions.”

As for Indonesia’s ‘concern’, it seems to be based on claims of discrimination, rather than any real demonstrated concern for the problem itself.  Its deputy agriculture minister Bayu Krisnamurthi told reporters in Jakarta that  “We hope that this is not mainly a special policy for Indonesia.  If only applied to Indonesia, this is discriminative and we will submit (a complaint) to the WTO (World Trade Organisation). “There are several other countries importing from Australia facing the same (animal welfare) situation”.  That is no doubt very true, and if the government and the industry are going to try and clean up the slaughtering processes, I agree that it should not be restricted to just Indonesia, and other recipient nations of Australia’s cattle must receive the same scrutiny.

Today’s ‘Weekly Times’ rural newspaper, in advance of the news of the total ban reaching it’s editors,  is arguing that such a ban, will cause serious damage and needlessly hurt ‘all’ Australian livestock producers, with livestock exports estimated at a worth of  $1 billion to the Australian economy. Their concern seems to be that such a ban is going to affect other livestock exports – eg, with $105 million worth of valuable dairy animals exported to China to boost that nation’s milk production. A spokesman for Dairy Australia noted that ‘They are not exported for slaughter, they’re valuable animals exported for breeding’. Obviously, that side of the market needs to be taken into account, but I think those kind of arguments are really a ‘red herring’, diverting attention away from the central issue which has led to the ban –  the documented animal abuse of Australian cattle specifically sent to Indonesian abattoirs for consumption in that nation, and the manner in which many of those animals are treated, and virtually tortured in the process of slaughtering them for the Indonesian market.  I imagine there is no easy long term solution to the problem, but at least on this occasion, our government has recognised the national response to the issue.  Strange, how this was not even a news item ten days, and yet the industry has probably being aware of the problem for over a decade!

Meanwhile, on more mundane matters, it was a day of meetings for your writer – on the work front, a General Meeting of the membership, which on an extremely cold wet and miserable day in Melbourne, barely attracted a quorum! Unfortunately for those who did come, and our ‘CEO’ in particular, those small numbers had to include the two proverbial trouble makers, who inevitably turn up to such meetings, seemingly with the aim of creating as much ‘meeting mayhem’ as they can. It is because of people like that in our organisation, that I am not going to be very sad about leaving in a few months. With some relief, I missed the ‘most vocal’ part of the meeting, involving those two individuals, as I needed to depart to organise some lunch for all present. As my boss noted afterwards, I ‘picked’ the right moment to get out, and made sure upon my return, that I had other things to occupy my time which ‘prevented’ my need to return to the sound of heated exchanges, etc.  Tonight, a much more pleasant environment was spent at the committee meeting of the local Family History Society, and while that meeting went about 30 minutes longer than I really wanted it do, it was a worthwhile extension of business discussion in a friendly and warm atmosphere! Unfortunately, on stepping outside at the meeting con clusion, the weather that created us was far from pleasant, as cold wind swept rain shrouded the street where our various cars were parked. No standing around chatting at that point of the night!!



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