Live export fundamentally flawed despite gains
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.