Jun 9, 2011

Live export industry’s hypocrisy on animal activists

A 2009 report shows that the cattle industry regarded animal welfare as a marketing problem, that needed more funding for ads.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

While Meat and Livestock Australia is emerging as the focus of cattle industry anger over the mishandling of the live export issue, a key industry review two years ago dismissed concerns about live exports to Indonesia as the work of “animal activists” trying to “turn the community against” live cattle exports to Indonesia. The review also proposed to reduce the proportion of levy funds directed at animal welfare.


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72 thoughts on “Live export industry’s hypocrisy on animal activists

  1. Dean Moriarty's Ghost

    There is almost no doubt that the suspension of the trade will cause hardship for northern cattle producers who will have to find money for dry season feed, transport and so on. Their cash flows will be badly affected.

    But what they shouldn’t expect is for government to foot the bill.

    MLA, Livecorp and all the other arms of the industry associated with the live cattle trade have known about conditions in Indonesia for years. What the industry did in the face of this knowledge was to gamble that public opinion would never catch up with them. Well, they gambled and they lost. Like any other gambler that loses, they will have to pay up.

    And if the producers find it difficult to get waht they are owed by way of compensation and financial assistance from MLA and Livecorp, they can do what any other creditor would do. Seek appointment of receivers so that the proceeds from asset sales can be used to meet MLA’s and Livecorp’s obligations.

  2. davidk

    I saw the head MLA person, Don Heatley on News Breakfast this morning and his attitude seemed to be that the gov’ts actions in suspending the trade are unresonable and the MLA has in no way acted improperly. They had spent $4,000,000 over several years to improve things in Indonesia. Given Bob Katter says they get 60 to 70 million pa in levies you would think they had the capacity to do their job properly. Apparently not.

  3. Jim Reiher

    Like most Aussies, I found this whole story horrid and tragic. No normal person can stand by and accept cruelty to animals. It is (in my subjective opinion) a less than fully human response, to other living creatures.

    But I have to add something: I find this whole horrible story a really good advertisment for vegetarianism. I am not one, (yet … though thinking very seriously about becoming one now), but I find it somewhat strange that we hear how people are so sad at the hitting and kicking of our cattle, before they are killed. I hate the idea that they were treated in a cruel way too, but think about what we are saying: it is still okay to kill them, to use giant knives to slice their flesh off their dead bodies, and then to cut that up and sell it and eat it. All that is okay so long as we kill them with as little pain as possible.

    I appreciate the “limited” compassion argument; kill and eat, just dont hurt them first…. but really… the vegetarians out there must be thinking: you meat eaters are sufferring from some kind of logic breakdown: you say you care… but your care stops short of your eating habits, or your economic self-interest. You say you care: so long as they dont have too much pain, you can kill them and eat them. Healthy young animals that would live for years, killed for your eating pleasure. Yep… you care? …. sure….

  4. nicolino

    Of course Barnaby Joyce is out there saying that we shouldn’t offend the Indonesians in this matter. Well Barnaby, the Indonesians offend me or is that un-Australian of me?

  5. Simon

    I don’t think that having a PR campaign to counter the influence of activists is bad in and of itself. Maybe if it was relied upon exclusively without trying to influence the Indonesian customer base as to how the animals should be treated…

    Certainly climate scientists could do with the support of a decent PR program to counter denialist activists.

    But I thought the issue was not the treatment of animals in transit but the treatment of animals in Indonesia? I think that the PR campaign didn’t have much to do with what we saw on Four Corners but perhaps some live export issues relating to the treatment of animals in transit. I vaguely recall hearing something about sheep exported to Arabia that were not in the best of condition on arrival.

  6. David Allen

    @Dean Moriarty’s Ghost

    I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that if the officers of MLA and Livecorp can be shown to have been negligent in complying with their organisations’ charter then they may have some personal liability for losses.

  7. Peter Ormonde

    The MLA has failed its members, failed us all. If anyone gets compensation for lost earnings from this disgraceful business it should be the industry (the MLA) that pays it – not the taxpayer.

    I live in a cattle town – not live exporters but still practical cattle people – everyone I spoke to here said they were horrified by what they saw on 4 corners.

    All the characters – but particularly the MLA – should be thoroughly ashamed. They should all resign immediately.

  8. Modus Ponens

    What crappy PR they received too! They were “yes men” telling the industry what they wanted to hear.

    The political risk was always sitting there waiting to happen and they instead spent more money on marketing themselves.

    “Don’t fix the problem, fix the image.” That PR company must get a steady stream of government contracts….

  9. david

    The Indonesians attitude to animals generally is disgraceful. Wander through the streets of that so called paradise Bali and there are dogs aplenty, starving, flea ridden and God knows what else. Despite the authorities best efforts to destroy as many strays as possible, so as not to offend the lucrative tourists by having the miserable animals on display in every street and on every beach, it is impossible to put them all down. Indonesians are not alone in Asia with this cruel attitude generally to animals, but they are who we are currently concerned with. Not another cent of mine will be heading their way.

  10. Daniel

    “Wander through the streets of that so called paradise Bali and there are dogs aplenty, starving, flea ridden and God knows what else.”

    Those would be the Aussie footy players there on holiday.

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