Business

Apr 10, 2018

Shocked government’s desperate measures to save live exports

A terrified government is rushing to do whatever it can to save the live export industry -- including attacking its own bureaucrats and embracing the opposition.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

So rattled is the government by that sickening footage of dying and abused sheep on yet another of Emanuel Exports' voyages of torture that Agriculture Minister David Littleproud yesterday did something you almost never see in government: he went out and tipped an enormous bucket on his own department. And did so on the central issue of both the latest example of Emanuel Exports' shameful cruelty and the wider problem of the live export trade -- that the Department of Agriculture simply refuses to regulate animal welfare:

[T]en days ago I received a report from my department, who is the independent regulator in respect to live trade, around an incident that happened in August 2017. I became concerned by that report not finding any breaches of standards by the exporter in question and subsequently asked the department to provide me with further information around their actions with respect to that incident and whether they had investigated that to a satisfactory level. I have only just received that brief back last week, but before that, I saw the chilling footage provided to me by Animals Australia... quite candidly, that vision does not marry up with the report I received, and that is quite disappointing to me ...

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions

38 comments

Leave a comment

38 thoughts on “Shocked government’s desperate measures to save live exports

  1. Pedantic, Balwyn

    When will the nation wake up to the fact that Barnaby Joyce is a complete dud? His personal life has seen him devastate his family and severely embarrass his current partner. As a Minister he has been hopeless with too many imbroglios to list here, but all costing the tax payer money and ending with the same dismal result. No wonder Abbott and he are teaming up, they make a good pair.

    1. old greybearded one

      I have always been ahead of the nation eh?

    2. Bobby

      The nation knows Barnaby and the National Party are duds. It’s just the rubes out in regional areas that are slow learners

  2. old greybearded one

    This is a bloody disgrace and Barnaby should resign completely. No farmer I know would wear this on their farm. The exporter should be banned permanently and their obvious cronies weeded out. I though Littleproud would be a Barnaby MkII, but perhaps I was wrong. More power ton his arm at present.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      I hope you’re right about the farmers OGO. I suspect you are, I have to assume that most farmers treat their animals well and would not wear it.

    2. leon knight

      I hope Littleproud is genuine too…certainly looks hopeful that some of Barnaby’s evil will be reversed.
      That sheep footage was sickening to the core and can’t be unseen – political dynamite though.

    3. [email protected]

      Most of my family are farmers and have been since they landed in Australia in 1844, they are never cruel to animals but for god’s sake these are not house pets to sit on the couch to watch TV with us, they are food animals.

      1. Damon

        Shepherdmj: curious, can you explain the difference? From the point of view of capacity to suffer, I mean…

      2. gerald butler

        Cruelty is cruelty, no matter which indifferent bastards allow it or monetise it.
        I remember a vet during the last big blow up saying, ” they don ‘t give a shit as Long as the cheque is in the claw. “

  3. susan winstanley

    yes, an extraordinary outburst from a rookie Minister.
    Ministers who blame their own departments can expect blowback from under-resourced public servants, ignored and under-funded by a lazy blowfly like Barnaby Joyce who was personally responsible for the wanton destruction of an essential regulator like APVMA.
    Now they are on the defensive after this pathetic blame-shifting from a Minister with suspicious family connections to water thievery, some interesting leaks from inside the department might be expected. Press should stay alert for the phone to ring.

    1. MJM

      ” … Barnaby Joyce who was personally responsible for the wanton destruction of an essential regulator like APVMA.” All true. But a weak PM and cabinet let him get away with it. No published cost estimates, not a shred of evidence of reasons, no building ready, highly qualified and experienced staff resigning rather than relocating. It’s a mammoth scandal and on more heads than just BJ’s.

      Then there’s the gross water theft, also brought to light by tv footage, In which Littleproud’s family is implicated and for which BJ’s head should have rolled. But the government has been equally ineffective on that, too.

      Simply incompetent government, despite yesterday’s blathering claims from the PM.

    2. Sue Miills

      well exactly. & though Littleproud thanked some young lad as a hero whistleblower, there is a young woman who has worked so hard to stop live exports for several years, and a vet who wrote a report for the Departments attention (she was dismissed & I don’t know her name). But Well done to Lisa/ Sunlily on Change.org who worked tirelessly to stop the Live Exports cruelty. I hope she has succeeded despite its mucky political connections.

      1. Marie

        Sue Mills, that brave vet was Dr Lynn Simpson. The story was on the ABC’s 7.30 program in June 2016. Dr Simpson worked for the government and was dismissed after exposing the dire conditions on board live export ships. Her evidence showed that cattle were heat-stressed and covered in faeces – just like the poor sheep we saw on Sixty Minutes last weekend. Read more about it here:
        https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/federal-election-2016-respected-vet-says-dead-injured-faecescoated-cattle-business-as-usual-on-live-export-ships-20160622-gppn5p.html

        1. Damon

          Thanks for posting this, Marie. It seems some animal abusers get second chances, then third, then fourth, then fifth, then …

        2. Sue Miills

          Thanks Marie. Wow there are some impressive people standing up to this Govt. Now that’s Leadership. To all- At least the Departments are reporting it to the Ministers. That shows us something. Where the buck stops for one thing. And I guess, whatever his reasons, Littleproud is doing something. Or says he is. Guess we help by showing him it is politically expedient to act with integrity

  4. Paul Guy

    It’s great to see a Minister ready to stand up and kick his department right up the backside. Live animal exports has long been a source of great cruelty to animals, and the exporters don’t care if thousands of animals die they just collect the insurance $$$. Jail the bastards.

    1. MJM

      Well yes. But. It occurs to me that the Dept had become accustomed to no action every being taken on their reports, no matter how terrible the contents and how dire their warnings. With Joyce as Minister too much was ignored – in Dept of Water Resources too. And I wonder whether Littleproud would have taken action but for the piccies made available by the whistleblower. We’ve heard denials and calls of fake news before in similar situations.

  5. RL

    This is another example of the outrageous maladministration of Barnaby Joyce; the Murray Darling rorts and mismanagement another and dare I mention the non move of the APVMA from Canberra to Armidale which has resulted in the virtual destruction of the department.
    The fact that this incompetent drongo is still in parliament shows something very bad about public life in Australia.
    The response of Littleproud , as BK points out, shows bad this situation is and what’s at stake.
    To get those who have built their business plans around LE to find another job is not going to be easy. Doable but it wont happen.
    The best we can hope for is that the industry will be properly regulated and severe penalties result for infringement.

  6. AR

    The economics seem odd. If the sheep cost a dollar, how much does it cost to drive a ship to the northern hemisphere?
    Somehow, with 65,000 animals per voyage, that makes a profit?
    Is there some cultural price extracted from an overcrowded region made over rich suddenly?
    The point is, live sheep.

    1. Bobby

      Delivering the animals alive to their destination provides jobs in the importing country for abattoir workers and animal handlers.
      It’s less a cultural thing than a local job creation thing.

      1. AR

        The sheep are not being shipped to an abattoir but for onselling at live markets over the coming weeks & months to wend their weary, woeful ways inland from the ports.
        Refrigeration is rare so the only way to ensure fresh flesh is to keep it alive, at least until Eid (Septemberish)

  7. J Shep

    When will this desperately cruel trade finally be stopped? I have watched this trade since its inception and incidents of grave animal cruelty occur regularly and consistently, despite promise after promise from successive governments that these transport companies are going to ‘clean up their ‘acts’. What a joke. It never happens and these animals continue to suffer horrendous journeys for weeks on end. They then meet even more cruelty and neglect at their destination, only finding release from their suffering after a slow and painful death. Good grief! Is it 2018? If we treated a household pet this way, there would be a worldwide outcry. Why is it acceptable to impose this suffering on an animal just because it is a ‘farm’ animal. It was Ghandi who said that the measure of a civilisation can be determined by its treatment of animals. What does this trade say about our country? Today I hang my head in shame to be an Australian. Live export needs to be banned for all time. There is no other solution to end the suffering.

  8. Venise Alstergren

    Barnaby Joyce should have resigned after his squalid sexual imbroglio. Now this latest appalling mess of his has surfaced he should be shot. Better still he should have to undergo the hell he has forced on our livestock.

  9. [email protected]

    There is something deranged about the notion that animals bred for food and wool are deserving of human rights but humans who seek asylum are not worthy of anything but brutal human rights violations.

    As with the trade of wheat for weapons nothing will happen to this live trade due to the income derived by farmers.

    1. Venise Alstergren

      Screaming over reaction, Shepherd. To equate a death which is swift and efficient to farmed animals coming to live in our homes is melodramatic tripe. To bring into the equation the humans who are rotting in asylums may be a satisfying way to bolster an argument. On the other hand not even our appalling government subjects these people to deliberate torture.
      How about working out a way to help these animals, instead of sitting back and lodging lofty platitudes proving how superior you are to everyone else?

    2. bushby jane

      I reckon this is spot on, I reckon farmers only do it because they get more money than they would receive from selling to Australian buyers. They couldn’t really care less about animal welfare unless they have the risk of being sprung for failures.

      1. Rais

        You reckon BJ? How many farmers have you talked with? As an ex farmer I don’t know any farmers who don’t care about their animals.

  10. Geoff Keogh

    Blaming a department is easier than blaming the real culprit – Littleproud’s former leader and former Agriculture Minister Joyce who made it clear that he had no time for animal welfare concerns that might stop the trade. Put the blame on Joyce where it belongs.

    1. gerald butler

      But didn’t he win a $40,000 award from Gina Rhinehart for wonderful services to agriculture?

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details

Sending...