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Jun 21, 2011

The live animal trade

Crikey readers have their say.

The live export industry:

John Crosby writes: Re. “Live export industry’s solution to ‘animal activists’? More PR” (9 June, item 1). Your article on live export industry’s solution was highly inaccurate. The “hybrid” organisation is not increasing but a reducing one. We used to have the AWB, and the dairy industry and a number of others. MLA is one of the few left of that structure. However, it is quite an effective structure when focused on its goals. It is Meat and Livestock Australia, not Meat and Livestock Association as you have used in the second paragraph.

It is essentially a marketing organisation and covers animal welfare where that has marketing impacts. Generally animal welfare is covered by legislation and regulation and is handled by industry participants who actually handle animals. Livecorp is different in that it was set up specifically to deal with improving the performance, including animal welfare of the live export trade.

The industry has actually done extremely well in the area of improving animal welfare outcomes over the last 15 years. Losses aboard ship have dropped from about 2% to about 0.1%, a 20 fold improvement to the point where animals are less likely to die on a ship than in the paddock under range conditions. the same can be said for feedlots, particularly the better ones used in the Australian trade of live animals.

There is a perception that animals get off the boat and are held for a few days and then slaughtered. This is not so, particularly in Indonesia, where they are fed from 350kg to 500kg, a process taking around 100 days. This is not covered in your article but is important in understanding why the process of improvement started with the ships, moved to the feedlots and is now focused on the slaughter facilities.

You make great play about more money being spent by Livecorp on PR rather than on animal welfare. That is a function of the market for each. Publicity in Australia is expensive and the audience is extremely diverse, plus the media require Australian wages rather than those prevalent in Indonesia. The audience for animal welfare improvements is by comparison tiny. About 30 exporters, a similar number of ships and feedlots, and 100 plus abattoirs. The cost of the changes is in the main born by the industry players, not be the MLA or Livecorp, although there have been some subsidies for equipment and training to encourage improvements. This comes from the market development portion of funding which is the largest and is overlooked by you.

The industry needs to spend its precious resources on communicating with the wider community, and do it much better than at present. To not do so is to risk the entire trade. That also means the Australian abattoir trade as that will be the next target if the live animal trade is damaged.

The extra amounts necessary to provide the other side of the argument to the sensationalist way that animal rights activists can get away with is a direct cost of sloppy, ill researched articles like yours.

Clive James:

Luke Slattery, Editor — Australian Literary Review, writes: Re. “Media briefs: Age of treason … Oz’s Moran-ic error … Mangos falls from Sky … ” (yesterday, item 15). Contrary to the impression conveyed by Guy Rundle I should point out that I wrote the article about Clive James’s illness with his approval.

The story was prompted by, and drew attention to, a long and generous essay on James’s later poetry published that day in the Australian Literary Review. James was not in hospital when my piece was written. In fact I commissioned a fresh photograph of him == again with his complete consent == taken in his study.

Rundle seems to think there was no possible public interest aspect to the piece. I disagree. It was picked up by mainstream media organisations around the world. I happen to know that James regarded this aspect of the story — its viral afterlife — a “pest”. But he was not unhappy with it as a piece of journalism.

Rundle’s piece for its part is built on a paradox: it is apparently fine for the “gentleman” Stephen Romei to write in this newspaper that James has leukemia, yet strange that I should follow with some details of James’s struggle with the same illness, obtained for purposes of publication with his explicit consent, and used to promote a long essay about his work.

Solar thermal technology:

Peter Wotton writes: Re. “Parkinson: pride and prejudice on solar scheme” (yesterday, item 18). Giles Parkinson wrote:

“Dr David Mills developed his unique solar thermal technology at the UNSW, but was forced to pack up and go to California to seek investment backing and government incentive.”

I understood that Dr David Mills developed his unique solar thermal technology at the University of Sydney, not UNSW as reported in Crikey on Monday. Certainly it was on the roof of the Physics building at Sydney Uni where Dr Mills first showed me prototypes of his system. UNSW was the leader in  photo voltaic systems, not solar thermal.

Salubrious:

Steve Pratt writes: Re. “Lord Monckton participation ruffles feathers at mining gabfest” (yesterday, item 3). Andrew Crook refers to Perth’s Burswood Casino as “salubrious”.

The irony of referring to a casino as “health-giving; healthy” (Oxford English Dictionary) is not lost when this story is followed — almost immediately — by one that starts, “It’s not uncommon to watch belligerent gamblers being marched out of Crown Casino by security after one too many bad bets. Boozed-up punters are regular fixtures on the gaming room floor despite laws banning gambling while drunk”.

There ain’t nothing healthy about a casino.

Crown:

Derryn  Hinch writes: Re. “Last Bets: a gambling palace through the dealer’s eyes” (yesterday, item 5). Your student journalist Esther Ooi says she “unintentionally spent more than three hours wandering through the gaming room floor” at Crown. That’s a lot of wandering. How long did she intend to spend? Didn’t her feet get sore?

Trains:

Guy Rundle writes: Sinclair Davidson, prominent neoliberal, economic rationalist, RMIT professor, chides me for getting the trains from Altona wrong (yesterday, comments). In a dig at his snide laughter at people from Altona campaigning against service cuts I noted that they were “protesting the withdrawal of train services that now requires them to change trains twice to get to the city”.

Davidson then wrote:

“For his information it takes three trains to get from Altona to the Melbourne city loop, not two as he inaccurately reported on Friday.”

Yes, Professor, it does take three trains. And in order to take three trains, you must change trains twice. Ah well. At least he’s not being relied on for expert economics opinion anytime.

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13 comments

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13 thoughts on “The live animal trade

  1. Guy Rundle

    Luke

    I never said or implied that your article was done without Clive James’s consent. But James doesn’t need his illness to promote his work, and doing so diminishes the work itself. A true friend would have realised that the only result of running the story would be the ‘viral pestilence’ of a media storm in the UK, since James is far more famous there than in Australia – and being a true friend, would simply have passed on the opportunity for a lit celeb scoop. James had made it clear by his actions that he wasn’t making his diseases public, and his consent to your request does not absolve you of the responsibility of judging between your roles as friend and journalist (especially given the effects that chemo can have on someone’s powers of will). If the only proof of legitimate public interest you can find is the media storm that followed – you know, the pestilential one – then you’ve made the argument against yourself pretty nicely. Think you succumbed to a case of the Anti-News Unlimiteds in this matter.

  2. Kez

    Guy, you can stop sniping at Sinclair Davidson now. The energy you’ve expended against his allegedly superior attitude towards people in western Melbourne is surely better used elsewhere.

    And I find these lefter-than-thou tendencies of yours curious given your jet-setting lifestyle available to very few.

  3. klewso

    True there is a lot of emotive hyperbole and sensationalism when it comes to “animal rights”, and the debate can do without – but what proof is there that “the Australian abattoir trade …. will be the next target if the live animal trade is damaged”?
    As for “precious resources”, this whole episode could have been avoided if more of those were directed at ensuring the humane handling of cattle, at slaughter, in the first place – rather than the apparent laissez faire/profits first/treating these cattle like lumps of coal sort of attitude that seems to have been “motivation” up to now. How much is this fiasco going to cost, to “fix”?
    What sort of PR does Livecorp have to buy here?

  4. Venise Alstergren

    John Crosby: “”It is essentially a marketing organisation and covers animal welfare where that has marketing impacts. “” You refer of course to your lobby group, which speaks out for Meat and Livestock Australia.

    No wonder our livestock trade cares nothing about the animals being sent overseas to have their throats cut, in deference to overseas religious customs. You blithely cover animal cruelty with statements about marketing impacts. Oh that you had been alive and lobbying in Nazi Germany up to and during WWII. I dare say you would have dismissed the hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who died in concentration camps, together with the people who had obscene operations performed on them as a ‘misdirected theme on marketing by the propaganda department’ or some such tripe.

    How do you describe the bundling, frequently by the breaking of their legs, of up to three live sheep into car boots in Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East? It is an open secret that this practise has been going on for many years. It is another marketing strategy which needs to be attended to?

    How about ensuring these animals do not have these obscene acts done to them?
    The marketing then can come by word of mouth. Better still, spend the ‘marketing money’ in developing Australian abattoirs, and killing the animals here?

    Or is the whole attitude of Australia on anything, animal or mineral, that of being merely an open quarry to rip the contents out of for the benefit of foreign interests?

  5. Venise Alstergren

    “”Venise Alstergren
    Posted Tuesday, 21 June 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    John Crosby: “”It is essentially a marketing organisation and covers animal welfare where that has marketing impacts. “” You refer of course to your lobby group, which speaks out for Meat and Livestock Australia.

    No wonder our livestock trade cares nothing about the animals being sent overseas to have their throats cut, in deference to overseas religious customs. You blithely cover animal cruelty with statements about marketing impacts. Oh that you had been alive and lobbying in that far right-wing political party* Germany up to and during WWII. I dare say you would have dismissed the hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who died in concentration camps, together with the people who had obscene operations performed on them as a ‘misdirected theme on marketing by the propaganda department’ or some such tripe.

    How do you describe the bundling, frequently by the breaking of their legs, of up to three live sheep into car boots in Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East? It is an open secret that this practise has been going on for many years. It is another marketing strategy which needs to be attended to?

    How about ensuring these animals do not have these obscene acts done to them?
    The marketing then can come by word of mouth. Better still, spend the ‘marketing money’ in developing Australian abattoirs, and killing the animals here?

    Or is the whole attitude of Australia on anything, animal or mineral, that of being merely an open quarry to rip the contents out of for the benefit of foreign interests?

    *Don’t blame me for the words the Crikey moderator takes offence at.

  6. Guy Rundle

    Kez

    well i wasnt sniping this time – i was correcting an elementary mathematical error by a professor of economics, who had accused me of writing an ‘inaccurate’ report.

    ok, and a little sniping as well.

  7. Frank Birchall

    John Crosby: all your blather doesn’t alter the overwhelming fact that the treatment of cattle in Indonesia, as depicted in 4 Corners, is appalling and disgusting cruelty and had to be stopped immediately. Every day it continued would have made all Australians complicit in it. This would have been unacceptable to anyone with respect for non-human life.

  8. Venise Alstergren

    KEZ: Be fair, you can’t expect a journo to travel by canoe-too time consuming.

  9. Flower

    John Crosby – Consultant

    Current Positions

    •Chairman Ag-Management Pty Ltd. Trades and manages water and other assets for corporate agribusiness
    •C&F International Pty Ltd. International agribusiness and trading with emphasis on Australia/Vietnam
    •Farmer at Lucindale SA
    Member SA Cattle Advisory Group,

    •Chairman National Livestock Identification Scheme SA and Member national executive NLIS
    •Member Meat Industry Development Board
    •Chairman Beef Strategy Group
    •Deputy Chairman Australian Quarantine and Export Advisory Council
    •President Agribusiness Association of Australia

    Formerly

    •Member Cattle Council of Australia
    •Senior Vice President National Farmers Federation 1992-1994
    •General Manager at Elders in charge of Feedlots and export Hay 1993-1997
    •Board member Australian Agricultural Company
    •Chairman NSW Meat Industry Authority 1994-1997
    •Chairman National Meat Standards Committee
    •Chairman NFF and NSW Farmers Economic and Trade Committees 1992-1994
    •Board Member Elders Australia Ltd 1993-1997

    “The industry has actually done extremely well in the area of improving animal welfare outcomes over the last 15 years. Losses aboard ship have dropped from about 2% to about 0.1%, a 20 fold improvement to the point where animals are less likely to die on a ship than in the paddock under range conditions. the same can be said for feedlots, particularly the better ones used in the Australian trade of live animals.”

    “Fifteen years?” Says who John Crosby? Your sadistic industry and its dancing boys? Statistics for animals overboard were fudged in 2001 – from thousands to hundreds. On the Al Shuwaikh almost 6000 sheep died of salmonella and heat distress in 2002. On the Corriedale Express the ventilation failed, another 6000 dead. Then on the maiden voyage of the industry’s newest ‘state-of-the-art transporter’, the Becrux , 41 percent of the cattle died. Forty-one percent. The list is endless. And the industry boasts of a world-class operating standard.

    Lies, stupefying swill and cover-ups in this heinous industry continues. Your industry spin of “o.1%” ship mortalities equates to 28,031 animals overboard in 2010. (Source DAFF). Business must be good to carry such losses eh? In 2010, one billion people were malnourished while you fed tens of thousands of diseased livestock to our marine life and dumped millions of tonnes of animal manure into our fragile oceans.

    Further, it was a horrified Princess Alia of Jordan who shut down the stinking Jordanian abattoirs and razed the surrounding meat markets to the ground after receiving intelligence from Lyn White of Animals Australia that Australian animals were being tortured while your disgraceful industry bleated on about its superb progress in animal welfare in the Middle East.

    Seven investigations in five countries into your disgusting greedy trade arrived at one conclusion – Live Exports – Evil. Live Exporters – liars. MLA – liars. Ministers’ of Agriculture – rent boys!

  10. klewso

    “They” eat dogs in parts of Asia …… all these stray dogs (& “cats”?) and “ex-greyhounds”, why can’t we turn a buck from them? Crate ’em up send ’em off?
    Because that sort of “cruelty” isn’t acceptable – or as “lucrative”?