Stunning the first step in industry solidarity

OF ALL the areas of dispute between animal rights groups and those who believe the live export trade has a real future, the practice of stunning Australian animals prior to slaughter in live export markets, appears to generate the most common ground.

If done right, it also presents the greatest area of opportunity to solve the many controversial and complex animal welfare issues at the supply chain’s pointy end, raised by the recent Indonesian live exports “fiasco”.

The ALP Caucus vote this week on an animal welfare motion failed to mandate stunning for all Australian animals in live export markets, but in reality that political result is only a minor bump on the road to redemption.

To secure a robust live export trade with animal welfare at its core, commercial incentives need to accompany any political measures that seek to improve animal welfare practices.

World Animal Health guidelines (OIE) standards don’t require mandatory stunning of cattle prior to slaughter but what’s to stop the industry showing leadership and responding to the challenge by designing a robust commercial solution now?

Positive action is already underway with some individual Indonesian feedlots reacting to the live export crisis by only sending Australian cattle to abattoirs with tight animal welfare rules, including stunning.

But while moves like this are promising, it can’t happen without aligning with overall goals and targets, which can be easily measured and monitored.

They need to be set with the agreement of animal rights groups here and abroad, with clear and transparent reporting on how they are being achieved, at regular reportable intervals.

For example, Australia will send 60 per cent of its animals to Indonesian abattoirs that stun pre-slaughter by January 1, 2012; 70pc by 2013; 80pc by 2014, and 100 per cent by 2015.

This approach will help remove much of the ambiguity and uncertainty that underpins arguments against the trade now, which are mostly emotive and unfortunately, come at the expense of those in the agricultural industry, who were hard at work taking care of their animals when they were blindsided and suffered “blamelessly” as a result of the government’s snap Indonesian suspension in June.

Because let’s face it, the slaughter of animals and even watching their throats being cut, stunned or un-stunned, is going to offend pretty much anybody.

And that stands no matter which way you look at the slaughter: through an annual industry or government report, a handy-cam held by a guerrilla reporter, ABC television, the nightly news, internet broadcasts, radio shock-jocks, and even reading about it in rural newspapers.

A recent live exports forum in Brisbane, hosted by the industry’s newly appointed leading spokespeople, the RSPCA, injected with a rock-star, tear-evoking appearance by Animals Australia animal welfare celebrity, Lyn White, revealed an encouraging word from an upcoming industry leader.

As Ms White used her speaking date to make more passionate claims about her dreams to close down the “evil” live export trade altogether, of which the RSPCA has a similar agenda, AgForce QLD Cattle President Grant Maudsley made a bold appearance acting as the only speaker genuinely supporting the trade’s long-term future and value.

He spoke from the point of view of a grass-roots cattleman and not an industry body or trade defender, in underlining the Cattle Council of Australia’s position that industry funds should now be directed towards the rapid introduction of stunning facilities in Indonesian abattoirs.

There may be some logistical or even cultural and religious issues to overcome with stunning but given recent events, the pathway forward has never been more inviting.

Ms White’s many foot-soldiers have found a potent voice in recent months, jumping at every opportunity to label live exports as a “filthy” and “evil trade” - and the industry has failed to counter these accusations successfully.

The rapid uptake of stunning with support across government, industry and animal welfare groups in Australia and in our export markets, would go a long way towards silencing them.

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Aussi animals fed up
13/10/2011 10:00:14 AM

Really tired & fed up with all this political wrangling, backpeddling & financial excuses So no one who happens to have or supports barbaric killing practises is offended! Let animals die with dignity! Drive harder bargain for top quality meat! Look for more humane markets elsewhere. Animals & people should not be political footballs! Develop many large efficient properly regulated onshore processing facilities in Australia! Useless government needs some guts to do this! Heavily subsidise this industry & phase in, could have better future! World crying out for more protein exponentially. SOS!!!
Truth in reporting
13/10/2011 10:05:23 AM

AgForce QLD Cattle President Grant Maudsley spoke about him...him and him..oh and about humans and their need to make more and more money. Come on..he wanted all animal people to realise the human greed in all of this , but the live export arguement is about decency and the lack of it within the trade. The arguement is about human greed Vs abuse of animals. No amount of crappola from Industry can change that. Pre stunning is just one issue..the others are the avoidable deaths enroute, the dreadful handling, the dreadful suffering..and no matter what you wont eliminate that.
13/10/2011 1:31:05 PM

Countries and cultures should be allowed to flourish without intervention from vegans. If the indonesians want to bleed out their meat then fine - it's sold as seen. I bought a t-shirt last week, the shop hasn't rung me up to check that I am washing it properly.
13/10/2011 1:36:48 PM

Where does this hopelessly biased, inane journo get this rubbish from? The animal advocacy movement will never compromise. No-one who has any connection with this brutal trade is 'blameless' including the people who breed the animals for it. As for Maudsley, the facts of the matter are that he has no possible credibilyty at that particular forum or indeed any other. There is nothing 'bold' about him, the fact that he was silly enough to try and justify himself speaks for itself. Try presenting a balanced report for a change. Tell the truth.
tired of rubbish
13/10/2011 2:02:57 PM

What utter arrogance. To allow 40% of our cattle to be slaughetered unstunned next year. Thats about 216, 000 base on 2010 exports. We need new markets for boxed meat and by the way the vast proportion of our cattle going to Indo feed the wealthy or middle class in the major cities like Jakarta. They can afford our boxed meat. The argument that our cattle feed the poor of Indo who would have to spend a 1/3 of their weekly salary just on meat is another concoction by Meat and Lies Australia and the live exporters.
13/10/2011 7:08:52 PM

We can't process here , with a government intent on exporting jobs overseas & increase taxes why would anyone open here ? We know animal libbers are intent on shutting down the most humanest exporter so to increase & reward the cruel world producers with the Aussie Business . Iraq would be a great exporter , Australia must shut down ! For the sake of cruelty to flourish !!
Farmer Beeb
14/10/2011 7:23:32 AM

To Blah Blah All meat is bled out, stunned or not stunned. Perhaps you should learn a bit more before putting up silly comments.
Aussi Animals fed up
14/10/2011 12:25:46 PM

Australian Governments of all persuasions lost any vision for this country shortly after the mid sixties. If these stupid caviar eating politicians had any sense, they would change the overregulation which the country is steeped in divert humungous amounts of wasted money thrown at ill conceived red tape driven bureaucracy & seriously, gainfully employ the vast army of public servants to concentrate on developing and supporting inland agriculture & livestock industies plus the mining industry, particularly in down times to ensure increased revenue in good times.The country is stagnant and constipated!
R See 1
14/10/2011 8:42:08 PM

Hey "tired of rubbish" - get your facts right! How many animals will be exported this year to Indonesia? a lot less than 2010. Maybe 80000!, and for next year? a good estimate might be 180 -200000 TOTAL. 40% of those numbers is a lot less than 210,000. The trade is still very shakey, and mostly shuts down between late November and February or March. BTW - Animal losses between N Australia and Indonesia are very low - 0.1 - 0.2% only.
1/11/2011 5:59:11 AM

"tired of rubbish"....a lot of Indonesians dont have refrigeration. They buy meat daily. Boxed meat wont suit this market.
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Canberra CommentFairfax Agricultural Media Canberra correspondent Colin Bettles tackles the big national rural and agricultural issues which will impact regional and rural Australians.


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