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article imageProtesters call for ban on live animal exports Special

By Kimberley Pollock     Jun 18, 2011 in Food
Thousands rally in Australia's major cities to protest against Australia’s live animal export trade and call for a permanent ban.
The national protests are a result of growing public outrage over a Four Corners documentary program that showed disturbing footage of cruel slaughter methods in some Indonesian abattoirs, as reported in Digital Journal last month.
The intense public pressure has resulted in the Australian government suspending live cattle exports to Indonesia for up to six months and a government review of the live animal export trade.
I joined hundreds of protesters in Australia’s capital, Canberra and found the grassroots rally was attended by families, farmers, professionals and animal activists in cow suits. Farmers and animal activists stood side by side to call for the end to the cruel slaughter practices in the Indonesian abattoirs.
The protesters were clearly unhappy with the Australian government’s response and proposed review of the live export trade and spontaneously took turns with the megaphone to passionately and at times tearfully voice their opposition to live animal exports.
For most of the protesters the only acceptable outcome is a complete ban on all live exports. However, some of the farmers feel that better systems could be put in place and that they have been let down by industry groups such as Meat and Livestock Australia and Live Corp.
The Animal Justice Party's president, Steve Garlick, spoke about the inherent cruelty in the live export trade and said that a ban on live exports would bring about both economic and social benefits. Professor Garlick said, ''We are talking about an industry that if stopped today, could easily be transferred to the exporting of chilled meat industries.'' He added, “The boost would be to employment in this country, a boost to a lot of rural communities that rely on abattoirs for employment, and you do away with the animal welfare problems.''
The proposed government review of the Australian live export trade uses the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) standards as a benchmark. However, the RSPCA says these standards are well below Australian standards and do not exclude non-stunned slaughter or the roping slaughter that was used in the Four Corners program.
On the RSPCA website, RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones says that while the review recognises the significant welfare problems in the live export trade it will not be effective because it does not examine transitioning away from the live trade all together. She says:
"There are inherent risks to the welfare of Australian livestock that can never be overcome due to the absence of animal protection laws in importing countries.”
"Every time we export animals overseas to a country that has lower standards, it is a failure - a failure of our duty of care to those animals and it is a failure to producers who need and deserve certainty of the stability of their markets. They are never going to get this from the live trade or as a result of this government investigation. The Gillard Government must prioritise the interests of these producers and the interests of Australian livestock by instigating an investigation that incorporates phasing out the live trade."
The national protests have been timed to coincide with the tabling of a new Private Member’s Bill on Monday June 20. The Bill is being presented by two prominent independent politicians, Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenephon and calls for the end to live animal exports to all countries in three years.
Live Animal Exports Protest
Live Animal Exports Protest
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