Live exports are again in the spotlight, as animal welfare and public sentiment are second only to the profits of several key operators, writes Linda Paul.
In 1985, the Senate Selection Committee on Animal Welfare in its report “Export of live sheep from Australia‘concluded that if the decision on the future of trade was made solely for animal welfare reasons, there was enough evidence to stop the trade.
It seems that little has changed since 1985.
Earlier this year, the government promised to reconsider the live sheep trade from Australia in the hottest three months of the year. Animal protection groups and concerned citizens have been watching closely, hoping this will not mean lowering the ban on the transport of live sheep from Australia to the Middle East in the heat of northern summer.
But, of course, the Australian government was once again unable to act in the interests of anyone other than a few separate interests when it decided loosen the ban in March this year.
Live exports have been in the public spotlight for decades. And while the public is adamantly against it, the government seems to see it as a barrier to making a profit, rather than as a sign that the industry lacks a social license.
According to research carried out by Being an eyethe vast majority (95%) of the public are concerned about the treatment of farm animals and consider animal welfare in Australia to some extent a problem.
They found that the problem most concerned to this vast majority of Australians was the export of live goods.
The report says:
There is good cause for concern in the public. Veterinarians also talked about the conditions on the ships. Dear Veterinary Journal, Animalsconcluded 37 observer reports aboard live export vessels and concluded that inhumane conditions may be the norm rather than the exception for export flights.
Doctor Lynn Simpson is a veterinarian who has served as a veterinarian on board about 57 live export flights. She gave painful and vivid descriptions of debilitating injuries, including heat stress, ewes suffering from abortion or stillbirths due to stress, lambs crushed to death in cramped conditions on deck and regularly killing sheep and lambs to drive them out of the place. . misfortune.
During another voyage she conducted posthumous studies of 120 dead and dying sheep that were roughly stacked together on deck.
In it Application for 2019 to the request “Export of live sheep to the Middle East – express your opinion”, she said:
The government should be concerned not only with animal health. Epidemiologist of the World Health Organization, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws openly spoke of the dangers of live exports as a potential source another outbreak of zoonotic virus.
David McIversenior scientist and epidemiologist of the biotechnology company Metabiotasaid the increase in exports of live animals was about the problem is growing for many other diseases such as avian influenza virus, rabies and rabies Nipah virus.
Given the economic consequences of the recent COVID-19 epidemic and the devastating impact it has had on Australian lives, it seems incredible that the Department of Agriculture is willing to risk the livelihoods of our citizens simply to protect the profits of several key players in the industry.
Any reasonable person will assume that given the level of risk, trade should be of great value to the economy, at least for the agricultural sector.
Industry and the government have always publicly held the view that live exports are “good industry for our country” and “good industry for our farmers.” But this confirms little. An industry worth around $ 1.8 billion a yearis a tiny percentage of Australia’s total exports of $ 373 billion in 2020.
According to research by a consulting firm, ACIL Tasmanprocessing sheep here in Australia brings far more benefits than sending them abroad for processing because of the cost that will be added to the Australian meat processing sector, and Australian workers will also benefit.
Even Meat and Livestock Australia acknowledged in 2020 that exports of live sheep reached a historic low with a decrease of 27% compared to the previous year. In fact, the decline in the cost of exports of live sheep decreased by 41% compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, the trade in meat in boxes is growing rapidly. In 2009, Australia exported 19.9 million kilograms of lamb in boxes to the Middle East. In 2019, it amounted to 57 million pounds as well growth of 187%..
So who really benefits from this trade? Not the Australian economy, not the Australian workers, not the Australian consumers and certainly not the animals that have to endure these horrible ship journeys to destinations where social security laws and practices are even worse than here.
Despite this, the coalition government remains committed to trade, and Labor has not yet announced its plans, despite strongly advocating the phasing out of live sheep exports by sea in 2019.
When the New Zealand government announced the cessation of exports of all live animals by sea by 2023, the Minister of Agriculture of New Zealand stated:
Australia should follow their example.
Linda Paul is a member of the National Council of the Animal Justice Party. She is an avid fighter for animal rights and the environment.