Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 8, 2011

Thursday, 7th July 2011 – ban of live cattle exports lifted, and a ‘cycling’ follow up report from Japan

From the GET UP organisation,  following the government’s sudden decision to left the current ban on live exports of  cattle to Indonesia, and the imposition of  new conditions on live animal exports to that country, we learn that, in their view, there is good and bad news associated with that decision [which incidentally, has apparently upset some members of the Labor Party, concerned that the decision was rushed through without a great deal, if any, consultation, with the Party members in general, there being quite a variation in opinions on the subject.  GET UP wants to continue the campaign within the terms of the lifting of the bans. Over the past weeks, over 245,000 Australians have joined together in this campaign to end the cruel treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs. Together we’ve created the biggest petition in Australian history, and a huge storm in Parliament House. Yesterday’s announcement may be disappointing to many of us, but new animal welfare standards are a step forward in our campaign. In the coming months, let’s continue to keep the pressure up, starting today by calling on exporters to ensure their cattle are only sent to facilities that stun animals.

As GET UP advises –  bad news first: sadly, the international standards the Government has announced do not mandate stunning of animals before slaughter.  Now the good news: the Government has also committed to supply chain assurance, which means that each animal exported will be tagged so they can be tracked from the farm to the abattoir. That’s important because it means cattle producers can now choose to send their cattle only to abattoirs that stun animals before killing. That also means we [the GET UP supporters, and other concerned Australians]  have an opportunity. Some major cattle exporters have already flagged that they will only export to abattoirs with stunning facilities. If we can convince all the exporters to do the same, we can ensure that no Australian cattle are exported to facilities that don’t stun animals.  Currently, no Australian producer meets the international standards the Government has set. However some are getting close, and they’re getting up to scratch so they can qualify for a Government permit to resume exports in the coming weeks.
Many exporters have already expressed their shock to see how their animals were being treated in Indonesia, and some have already committed to export their cattle, only to facilities that stun. The question might be asked – why would exporting companies all agree to promise Australians they will only send their cattle to facilities which use stunning?  GET UP suggests it is because of the ‘Australian public’ that they will agree to the request.
The massive outcry from the Australian public has made clear to industry that the community will not accept a cruel trade. If another animal is exported to the kind on horrific cruelty discovered by Animals Australia investigators, live trade may be banned, forever.  Certainly, if some advocates, such as the RSCPA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] had their way, the existing ban would have remained forever!
Anyway, the Australian Government and the cattle industry know the community will not tolerate that kind of cruelty and if international standards are not complied with, there won’t be second chances. Personally, I have been in two minds about the whole ban, and were it not for the potential dramatic consequences on the many producers and farmers who were going to be directly affected by the whole process, I would have been happy to see live exports stopped. I imagine that the Government was thinking more about the economic and financial implications of continuing with the ban, rather than direct concern for the individual  farming family [unless of course, it was felt future votes would be lost, although the numbers involved were fairly small in the context of the total electorate].

Meanwhile, an interesting email from my brother, commenting on his recent cycling fortnight in Japan, and some views on the current Tour de France.  I always consider Robert’s ‘correspondence’ [the non-personal side of it] worth sharing, and including as a part of my contribution on these pages! So that is what follows.

Hi Bill

 

We got back from Japan early Sunday morning; was a lovely day in Sydney, so did something different and went for a long bike ride!

 

Thoroughly enjoyed the trip – riding was good (lovely roads to ride on, even in the back blocks of Hokkaido) and a good cultural experience (have only ever been to Tokyo before). On the riding side, the bikes we had were okay but not great; Evelyn had trouble with her gears for the first couple of days and ended up switching to the Guide’s bike (he was mostly driving the support van). Was impressed with Evelyn’s riding, particularly on the climbs where she out-paced the other two guys in our small group (she’s not fast on the flat but has amazing stamina when it comes to climbing).

 

On the cultural side, for 10 days on Hokkaido we saw no other non-Japanese and met only one person who spoke English; hence a bilingual guide is sort of essential to avoid a lot of mucking about trying to make yourself understood. Other aspects of our japanese experience were:

 – Every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) was some mix of tempura, sashimi, fish in multiple forms, vegetables, miso soup, tea, salad and rice (ate lots to get required carbs) + Japanese beer (which is excellent)

 – Dressing for dinner each night in kimono and slippers or thongs (see attached)

 – naked bathing in communal hot spring baths each afternoon following ride – but usually alone as hotels / inns were mostly empty; became very addictive following a day in the saddle

 – sleeping on futons and sitting on cushions (not chairs) for dinner

 – ritual everywhere about were you can and can’t wear shoes; e.g. at hotels / inns shoes come off at main entry and into slippers; but slippers come off at entry into your room or into the dining room.

 

Eye opener as to the impact the March tsunami has had on Japanese psyche and economy; even up north in Hokkaido the hotels and inns were virtually empty as the Japanese themselves are just not travelling and tourism from off-shore has dried up; hence a number of commercial establishments and restaurants are struggling. As an indication of a shaken psyche, on arrival at one hotel the proprietor (while obviously pleased to see us) said to our guide (in japanese) “aren’t they scared”!

 

Trust that you are following the Tour! Cadel [Evans] looking good and thankfully appears to be showing more aggression than in the past (e.g. in holding off  [Alberto] Contador to the line to win Stage 4). But of course it’s early days. However, the mood is perhaps best summed up by the following quote sent by Dave Olle following Cadel’s win on Stage 4 (Dave is the TopBike guy I did the TdF trip with last year):

 

“Cadel’s first TdF road stage win.  Let’s remember the clichés, take a deep breath and repeat them with me now:  ‘It’s only the first week’, ‘It’s a long way to Paris’, ‘A week is a long time in cycling’ ‘It’s the third week that counts’.  Bugger it, let’s celebrate now.”  

And another little story from Dave about why there are so few French riding in the TdF (Benard Hinault mentioned was the greatest ever French rider; won about 5 TdF’s):

 

“The lack of good French GC riders in the last 25 years’ report:  Our hostess in Hede, Virginie, told us a little story this morning, that was quite revealing.  About how as a child she was taken to the TdF every year, made to sit road side on every stage and watch Benard Hinault fight for the yellow jersey.  Many kids of her era were forced to do the same by, usually, their fathers.  Apparently deaf to their children’s pleas, begging for a normal family holiday, by the beach.  Herein lies the answer as to why no Frenchmen have managed to succeed him.  They all hated it.  
The ‘Badger’s’ successes and his fans dedication, effectively killed the enthusiasm of the next generation.  C’est la vie Frenchies!  (Suffer in ya chamois’)” 

 Meanwhile, an update on last night’s [tonight’s] Tour de France – Stage 6 Dinan to Lisieux , 226.5kmStage 6 Results     1. Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling – 5:13:37  2. Matthew Harley Goss HTC-Highroad  3. Thor Hushovd Team Garmin-Cervelo.  The overall situation after six stages remains relatively unchanged – the odd thing about the Tour de France which mystifies this fan, how the relative scores of competitors remain unchanged through many days of cycling. Must get my brother to try and explain it all to me one day!  General classification after Stage 6   –  1. Thor Hushovd Team Garmin-Cervelo – 22:50:34;  2. Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team – 0:00:01;   3. Fränk Schleck Leopard Trek – 0:00:04;  4. David Millar Team Garmin-Cervelo – 0:00:08;   5. Andreas Klöden Team RadioShack – 0:00:10;  6. Bradley Wiggins Sky Procycling;   7. Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling – 0:00:12;   8. Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling;  9. Jakob Fuglsang Leopard Trek;/  10. Andy Schleck Leopard Trek

Radio Committee meeting tonight – a mighty cold night to be out and about, but things warmed up quickly enough once we got underway. As usual, a very cooperative but usual session, and it is a pleasure to work with such a group this year, hopefully the make up of personnel will remain much the same after this year’s AGM in August.  This ‘Treasurer’ was able to hand over the ‘accounts’ to the President for him to pass onto the auditor tomorrow, hopefully that work will all be completed well in time for the AGM. A bit of [in fact, considerable] discussion about a couple of ‘trouble makers’ in the organisation, and how best to deal with such situations, formed a small segment of the meeting.

Extremely interesting special program of Q & A was on the TV just after I returned home tonight – it followed the screening of a documentary [another one] on Australia’s refugee problems, which unfortunately I didn’t get to see before the panel discussion [but did re4member to tape it].  I was a bit surprised that  there were no Face Book comments from friends about the program[s], but perhaps they wait for yours truly to generate those kind of ‘discussions’!! 

 

 

 

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