Coming to you from Longreach, gateway to the Outback and the home of Australian Stockmans Hall Of Fame. On a side note, Longreach is soon to have a right royal visit by Charles and Camilla, the day before the Melbourne
Cup. I might live in a place that tells us the history of pastoralists and those that work with cattle in particular but that does not mean that I don't care what happens to animals. First of all, I declare that I have donated in the past to organisations
such as WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). In fact, I still get emails from WSPA keeping me
updated with the various causes and asking me to donate again. I personally hate the possibility of hitting kangaroos when driving the sort of distances that I do sometimes. Frankly, I don't want to hit anything on the road, not bird nor cat nor roo! I have
heard people say though that they don't mind because these things are 'pests'. In fact, I have heard a few say they deliberately line these animals up when they get a chance but that is just a small-minded minority.
Viewing it from this perspective and seeing the Four Corners program about live
exports of cattle to Indonesia and the treatment of those animals before being killed for meat lead me to write to my elected representative i.e. the local federal member and to the minister responsible for trade. Lyn
White revealed the brutality of some abattoirs in Indonesia, the ex-cop turned animal rights activist blew the lid on the live export trade. The excuse of cultural and religious traditions
such as 'Halal' where cattle have to be killed onsite or fresh if you like was used. The other excuse was that they don't have refrigeration facilities so we can not export processed meat instead. The Australian cattle industry people said that they insist
on 'stunning' the animals and thereby making a clean kill. Well, the images we saw in the Indonesian abattoirs, there was none of that happening just a bunch of men standing around beating the living daylights out of the animals and then slitting their throats.
Surely the practice of torture to animals is not religious nor cultural? Also, isnt meat slightly spoiled when the animal is stressed before death or is that an urban myth?
The ABC program was aired over a year ago and rightly the public were outraged at such images. I know I was deeply affected by it and there were rallies to ban live exports.
Then again recently another program went to air where there were images of sheep being tortured, bought and dragged into car boots and then buried alive in Pakistan. Again there was outcry in the public domain and rightly so. Perhaps these countries are easy
targets as they only have basic facilities and not much education. Perhaps also there is a religious element to this, where these countries are predominately Muslim and therefore fodder for western sensibilities and media attention.
I subsequently sent off another email and received a letter last week from our Federal Member of Parliament – the Honourable Bruce Scott,
member for Maranoa thanking me for my email. The emails I sent were modified versions of a GetUp email. Now, i'm not normally a protest person but this issue had me riled enough.
The member for our electorate told me in his response that he “shares my deep concern over the footage of inhumane treatment of animals portrayed in live export markets and the Coalition consequently supports the suspension of trade of live cattle to
facilities that fail to operate at a standard that we, as Australians, would expect”. However, he states that although “the issue of live animal exports has divided community opinion”, the industry is “an important means of livelihood
for many people in rural Australia”. Basically, the live export trade is necessary in his opinion and that if it were banned “animals would be sourced from other countries which neither impose our high domestic standards, nor work closely with
destination countries to implement higher standards.” I understand that he is a National Party member and they stand up for the farmers. Maranoa is a huge federal electorate area
encompassing many large properties and small rural/regional towns such as ours.
He also says that “there are few alternatives for pastoralists to deal
with this over-supply as Southern markets are distant and past attempts to establish abattoirs in the north have failed due to the short operational periods, the wet season conditions and the lack of affordable fodder.” Well, to that I would say that
as someone who drives between here and the great South East sometimes, I have seen more than enough trucks carrying cattle around the place – road trains full of them at all hours of day! There are saleyards dotted all throughout this region, so I don't
understand why there can't be processing facilities put up nearby to deal with this issue. After all, the saleyards don't seem to have a problem with supply most of the time. I do get the weather issues out here but I see a lot of cattle out there grazing
in the many huge paddocks along the road. Is this something akin to 'outsourcing' our meat processing? What about the jobs for locals in the industry?
I believe that the government had no choice but to suspend the trade to Indonesia after that footage came out and the same should be done to Pakistan and any other country that refuses to put in place certain standards. We should indeed insist upon
it to the highest levels and not back down with our demands. It is our animals that suffer at their hands and it need not happen at all. On ending live exports or at least imposing high standards we are leading by example and we should insist that anyone not
following our example will not get our high quality product. Just like the Carbon Tax debate, we may be a small player in polluting but we can still lead by example and try to cut our emissions.
I want to bring this debate back to basics and talk about the human factor. You see, as mentioned previously in this blog, I am a previous student of criminology as well as commerce so I have gained a basic understanding
of the psychology behind these issues. Animal abuse has been linked with other forms of violence such as in the extreme cases of Serial Killers. I know it's a long bow to draw but I think it relevant
to mention this here. Most serial killers that i have read about and watched documentaries on have had prior history of torturing animals. “Studies have shown that individuals who enjoy or are willing to inflict harm on animals are more likely to do so to humans.”
That is apparently how they honed their skills before moving
on to human prey. Seeing the images of men mostly standing around a cow with big sticks/knives and smiles on their faces while watching and/or participating in the beating and whipping of the restrained animal is enough to make me think of the early
days of some of the worst killers.
Perhaps this desensitisation to torture of animals could lead to a few of those individuals going out and killing humans?? Most
of them seemed to be smiling while this abuse was being played out. Is it not in Indonesia and Pakistan where acts of terrorism have taken so many lives. Terrorism based on ideology but using those who are probably desensitised to the suffering of others.
Sound familiar? Pakistan for example has been under the animal rights radar for years due to 'bear-bating', 'dog fighting' and other animal cruelties.
Of course, not all individuals involved in these brutal, bizarre activities will be killers but wouldn't you think that they won't be the most sympathetic people to others suffering. I mean, how many bull-fighters
turn out to be serial killers? None that we know of...
We have seen in the recent Sydney riots by members of the muslim community that even kids are spouting
hatred and messages of violence, a classic being a sign to 'behead those who insult the prophet'. As in my question to QandA, isnt this a form of child abuse? Involving your kid in a violent protest and letting them hold up signs spouting violent messages??
Of course, this could be a case of the bad apple ruining the batch but still it shows that certain individuals care more about a deceased leader or 'prophet' than they do about their own children. No wonder they can beat/whip/torture a poor defenceless animal,
maybe thats where the desensitisation begins? Then it only needs a spark like that stupid video for example and we see violent riots all over the world with innocent people killed or injured. Its just like the spark that sets off some
serial killers. So begins the slide down the slippery slope of mans inhumanity to man! Don't think for one moment that i'm naive enough to think this hasn't been happening for a long time, if you read the history books you will see that
these things have been happening since the dawn of man.
Talking about the practicalities of live export, these sheep and cattle are packed in terrible
conditions on transport ships where a number die simply from the crowding and lack of air. The industry seems fine with these losses as long as there are still some left alive at journeys end. Then when the animals arrive they are seemingly manhandled,
sold and dragged into car boots and other inappropriate transport modes. Is this really a religious rite or a cultural norm?? If so, I dont believe we should participate and profit from this, we should end live exports now and lead the way for others to do
the same. We do it for whales, fighting the japanese whalers and we scream when seals are brutally clubbed to death but somehow we're not supposed to kick up a stink regarding the treatment of our sheep and cattle at the hands of others??!! You want to know
why this is the case? Simple economics, we (I mean the Australian farmers) make money from the sale of these animals and dont want city folk to be upset. City people are seen as 'soft' out here.
For those same farmers to then demand compensation from the government when the practice is temporarily halted is a bit rich. I mean, they can not have it both ways.
You shall not profit from the sale of animals to countries with poor or non existent standards and then when its exposed get compensated for your complicity in the crime. Animal cruelty in this country is a crime and primary producers who knowingly
profit from this are accessories before the fact at the very least and it is a given in this country that crime should not pay. Its not a case of 'what happens in..., stays in...'! Don't you dare go blaming the whistleblower, look at your own industry
first and seek alternatives. We may have once 'ridden on the sheeps back' but does that mean we look away when the sheep are being tortured needlessly? How about this: If law enforcers broke up a dog-fight would the suppliers of the dogs get compensation??
The answer is: A Big Fat NO!!
Let me just say, I am a meat-eating Aussie who is generally proud of our farmers and everything that Australia has to offer.
We have not had a terrorist attack on our soil yet and i hope it never happens. But we have lost people in the fight against terrorism, remember the Bali bombings and the Aussie lives lost. The people who orchestrated and carried out those terrible acts came
from the very same countries that have been highlighted in the images/reports we have seen from these so-called abattoirs. Some of these abattoirs contained items of Australian designed equipment. I'm not saying that the bombers or coordinators of these terrorist
attacks previously worked in abattoirs or had anything to do with them, but it is always a possibility, we just don't have that evidence to link them. This is just something I'd like you to consider.
Well, I know that I have probably made you look twice at this issue and probably put you off your lunch/dinner. Please don't shoot the messenger. I guess its time for me to wrap up now that I have possibly
put the cattle and sheep farmers offside and the politicians into more of a spin. In fact, i'll probably get run out of town for saying all this, but moving forward - stay tuned for my next blog post titled “Mining more than the ground...”