Live ex­port fun­da­men­tally flawed de­spite gains

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

LIVE ex­port cat­tle are with­out ques­tion bet­ter treated these days than they were be­fore the game- chang­ing re­port that ap­peared on ABC’s Four Corners in 2011, as Lyle Jensen re­minds us ( TB, July 18).

But that isn’t say­ing much, be­cause we have gone from a state of af­fairs that would have drawn howls of protest from At­tila the Hun to one that merely of­fends the con­science of most or­di­nary Aus­tralians, many farm­ers in­cluded.

Hu­mane truck­ing, load­ing and trav- elling, and the pro­vi­sion of de­cent food and ad­e­quate space is all very well but for two things.

First, these ameni­ties don’t carry as many stars as Mr Jensen makes out, and no sea­man would swap places with his live cargo as im­plied; in fact no sea­man would want a five- star voy­age and all the cham­pagne he could drink if part of the deal was that once at the des­ti­na­tion he stood a fair chance of hav­ing his head bashed in with a sledge­ham­mer in­stead of hav­ing his throat cut.

Sec­ond, cows have minds as well as bod­ies. It is one thing to kill a beast for food on the land where it was raised, another to trans­port it un­nec­es­sar­ily over long dis­tances in alien and in­dus­trial sur­round­ings.

Mr Jensen, it’s a pity that de­spite fol­low­ing the con­ver­sa­tion on live an­i­mal ex­ports, you still think that call­ing your op­po­nents cow­ardly, wooden- headed know- it- alls who “bleat on” about this is­sue is a sen­si­ble way to ar­gue your case. You are an in­tel­li­gent man ( and, I think, prob­a­bly more com­pas­sion­ate than you sound), and you can do bet­ter.

But I do won­der. You seem to be con­tent with wash­ing your hands of all re­spon­si­bil­ity once the cat­tle are handed over to the for­eign cus­tomer, and if they are cruel then that’s their look­out. Luck­ily the Aus­tralian guide­lines don’t al­low for that sort of neg­li­gence.

Last point. No­body is den­i­grat­ing our farm­ers. They de­serve a bet­ter go on al­most ev­ery front. The end of the live ex­port trade will be a tran­si­tion that makes them bet­ter off in the long run.

MIKE DOWNES,

North Ward.

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