ALEC smarts over live ex ban proposal

18 Nov, 2012 01:00 AM

LABOR backbench MPs Kelvin Thomson, Melissa Parke, Janelle Saffin and Darren Cheeseman’s proposed ban on live exports relies on arguments which perpetuate “economic vandalism” on producers, said Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Alison Penfold, and won’t be tolerated by ALEC.

The Labor MPs are members of an influential animal welfare group within the ALP caucus, and spearheaded the government’s snap ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia last year.

They resurfaced last week criticising the trade, after the ABC’s Four Corners screened more damning animal cruelty vision from the recent Pakistan sheep crisis.

The backbenchers have promised to renew calls for a total ban on live exports through their working group when the Lower House sits again and for the final time this year, in the last week of November.

However, critics say that political push contradicts statements from Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig supporting the trade’s viability and efforts to improve animal welfare outcomes globally.

Minister Ludwig issued a timely statement last week ahead of the Four Corners broadcast, saying the inhumane cull of 21,000 Australian sheep in Pakistan was very distressing – but was also an isolated incident that didn’t reflect the trade as a whole.

He said a new system was now in place to investigate any supply chain breaches and take appropriate action, with the Federal Agriculture Department already examining footage of the cull as part of an ongoing investigation.

“The reforms introduced to the live export trade achieve improved animal welfare and a strong future for the live export trade and the jobs and communities that rely on it,” Minister Ludwig said.

Ms Penfold said while politicians are entitled to their views, she would continue arguing “strenuously” for live export to continue into markets where positive animal welfare outcomes were being achieved, due to Australia’s ongoing involvement over almost four decades.

“I’m not prepared to see economic vandalism perpetrated against producers throughout this country,” she said.

“If you support animal welfare and you support producers who take care of their animals better than anyone else, it doesn’t make sense to just simply ban the trade.”

Last year when the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia was in full swing, Western Australian Liberal MP for Durack Barry Haase accused the ALP backbenchers of calling for an end to the trade and aiding the ban, despite being largely disconnected from the human impacts of the decision.

“You could say they care more about animals than they do about human beings, because they are thinking nothing of the destruction of lives amongst my pastoralists in north-western Australia,” Mr Haase said.

“But I’d go further and say that they are not even interested in animal welfare – they are interested in getting political notches on their gun.”

Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell said some of the backbench MPs who wanted live exports to end represented suburban electorates, and didn’t understand the economic reality of the issue. He said markets like Indonesia wanted live cattle because they lacked access to fridges and freezers or electricity and processed cattle nightly, which was then sold in wet markets and consumed the next day.

He said if Australia stopped supplying cattle to the Indonesians, they would simply buy their beef and protein supplies from other countries like India, where the attention to animal welfare doesn’t match Australia’s high standards.

“These MPs may not be worried about the impacts of a ban (on live exports) but it certainly worries people in rural communities,” he said.

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle said he didn’t want to criticise any of his ALP colleagues over their calls to ban live exports, but stressed he’s a staunch supporter of the industry and understood its importance to remote rural communities, particularly WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

Senator Sterle said the Greens were indulging in “voyeuristic dreaming about abattoirs again” by releasing their position paper this week to promote onshore processing, “but it just won’t happen”.

“We’re all animal lovers - but those people who are anti-live exports just get animal cruelty confused with live exports,” he said.

“But they should roll up their sleeves and get out into rural communities and meet some of the people who are involved in the trade because they’re not monsters.

“And the Greens want to get off their ass and get out into the regions like the Kimberley and the Pilbara and start talking to producers.

“They will have more credibility if they do that and stop playing to the trendies living in Sydney and Melbourne and those in Perth who’ve never been further than Rottnest Island.”

Shadow Agriculture Minister John Cobb said there was no economic or animal welfare reality attached to the argument to close live exports from vocal Labor backbenchers on the animal welfare working group.

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Real Deal
18/11/2012 2:20:54 AM

Unbelievable !! If industry can't even come to terms with what the problem is, industry really has no place in taking part in the solution. Exporters have perched producers on a knife edge. Australian's don't need to see your farms, the problems occur off shore. You accuse everyone without a RMB of not knowing the facts, have you ever considered that some of us in particular know a lot more about this than many of you do ?? Animal Welfare is NOT an economic argument, the alternatives to live export are an economic reality. Suggest you start paying attention to them.
Jo Bloomfield
18/11/2012 6:01:36 AM

Conveniently overlooked by those who wish to ban the trade is that countries like Indonesia who want live animals is the opprotunity it offers them to be able to create industry and employment within their own country. Frozen product doesn't do this. Indonesia has 240M+ people, 40% are involved with agriculture. the feedlotting offers chance to use waste product pineapple pulp, products that are well suited to feeding that Australia simply don't have. by products of feedlot system are recycled, like the pen manure and sawdust. In a country with no gov welfare, employment helps lessen poverty.
Mary G
18/11/2012 6:29:53 AM

The weak argument that if Australia doesn't supply cattle and sheep to countries supporting our live export, they will source from countries with even lower standards of animal welfare. This is a circular and self-serving notion. Australia should be creating benchmark standards of only exporting frozen foods, and setting precedents. Animals are not inanimate cargo, so their consideration must be paramount. Australia as a developed country must set precedents. Australia is caving into globalizing animal cruelty. Meat is not traditionally the main source of protein in SE Asia anyway.
Jen from the bush
18/11/2012 7:16:20 AM

They have to be solely interested in political grandstanding. Otherwise they would find out the facts before opening their mouths. Shame Australia shame.
Eulalie Goodwin
18/11/2012 1:27:13 PM

I consider myself an average Australian, I am a farmer's daughter, and a farmer's wife. I love Australia, but, I am ashamed of the Live Export Industry, and it's pathetic supporters. Of course, Ms Penfold will, "argue strenously..." to continue Live Exports, because that's what she is paid to do. My family and I are beginning to doubt the mental health of Senator Ludwig. He smiles about animal cruelty, and he thinks an unviable trade has a bright future. We all know Live Exports has no future.
18/11/2012 1:56:17 PM

ALEC has done nothing for the welfare of farm animals exported overseas for the past four decades. It was only in the past year with the government's woefully inadequate ESCAS requirements has their been the slightest whiff of improvement in handling for SOME of the millions of animals exported from this country each year. ALEC had NOTHING to do with this. ALEC and Alison Penfold should hang their heads in shame for the previous 40 years. The ESCAS still means animals are killed by having their throats cut while conscious. Not good enough! Live export does NOTHING for ANIMAL WELFARE.
19/11/2012 3:49:15 AM

It's about time they banned Aussie exports , we are the only exporters who are humane . Animals Australia & there colleagues can't tolerate Humane treatment of animals that is why they are banning Aussie production in favour of third world exports . Someone needs to do the exporting , probably Ethiopia will fill our gap , increase the the child starvation & wealth to the greedy . If Animals Australia was true they would change the killing methods overseas . Ahh no ! That is not the issue !!
19/11/2012 8:25:49 AM

Get real - when the iron ore dust settles and the ALP and greens have sold/ruined our agricultural industry then I will be standing at my gate locked and loaded as Lyn Whites kids are wanting some food. 50 years ago she would be tried for treason. Look around people the rest of the world is running out of food...while the population explodes. You all should be supporting Aussie farmers as they WILL be the sustainable future when we run out of mineral wealth. ALP+Greens+AA= NO Farm No Farm= No food
19/11/2012 9:17:57 AM

Real Deal, if the alternatives to live export are as real as you claim, then nothing stops you from putting your money where your mouth is and making them happen. Break down those trade barriers, find those markets and start buying livestock from farmers. Otherwise all that you are suggesting is hot air from the normal vegan brigade. Yawn.
Kate Fitzhenry
19/11/2012 6:30:20 PM

I am sickened that Australia has sunk so low in recent years. The Live Exporters and their supporters are traitors to everything once valued in this country. Past generations would not have tolerated the barbarism of Live Exports. Our farmers were people of integrity, not like many of the money hungry wimps, who profit from animal torture. They are not even loyal to Australia, letting our animals suffer in overseas abattoirs. My ancestors gave up their lives for this country, and I will fight until we ban Live Exports. We will not be deterred by an ignorant, bunch of money hungry farmers.
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