Stop The Boats!
Tony Abbott was right but as usual he was talking about the wrong boats. Australia is the largest exporter of live animals in the world. Long haul voyages to the Middle East take >21 days with ships carrying 60 ,000 sheep or 15,000 cattle on each 10,000km journey. A Senate Enquiry into the burgeoning industry as far back as 1985 concluded “that if a decision were to be made on the future of the trade purely on animal welfare grounds, there is enough evidence to stop the trade”.
Shipboard conditions, as exposed by experienced live export vet Lynn Simpson [who was subsequently fired on request of the industry], are appalling and run contrary to both the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the RSPCA recommendations that to minimise the stress of handling and transport that food animals be slaughtered in Australia and as close to the site of production as possible. Not 10,000km away in overcrowded/heated conditions where it is acceptable that up to 1% of cattle and 2% of sheep will die on route.
The AVA have requested that, “whilst live export continues and to ensure welfare standards and transparency, that an Australian registered shipboard veterinarian accompany each shipment and that this veterinarian must be independent and not employed by either the exporting or shipping company”. So far this request has been declined with non-independent veterinarians present on some voyages.
After the public outcry over footage of Australian livestock being inhumanely treated in Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt etc the government in 2011 established the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System or ESCAS. Yet, despite multiple clearly documented ESCAS breaches submitted by Animals Australia, not one exporter has been charged. Money talks, ethics walks.
Australia is a world leader in animal welfare. Why not ban live exports then slaughter and process humanely here? New Zealand did it successfully in 2007. Value-adding before export creates Australian jobs and ensures animal welfare. Both the AVA and the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union are calling for effective cold chain facilities across all countries to facilitate chilled and frozen meat export. Jobs and growth!
Both Carrie and Matt eat meat, care deeply about all animals and are members of VALE [become informed visit their website here].