Live Export

Billboard blitz brands live exports ‘a crime’

James Nason, 02/02/2015
One of the new billboards launched by Animals Australia in its latest campaign for a ban on livestock exports.

One of the new billboards launched by Animals Australia in its latest campaign for a ban on livestock exports.

The battle over the future of  Australia’s livestock export industry is about to intensify, with Animals Australia launching a new billboard offensive designed to turn public and political support against the trade.

The animal rights group sees 2015 as the year it can win enough support to ban the $1 billion a year industry.

The new campaign uses bus, taxi and billboard advertisements to declare the trade a “crime against animals”.

It is seeking online donations for its Live Export Fighting Fund to finance what it is calling the biggest anti-live export campaign in history.

In response Australia’s livestock export industry says that while Animals Australia uses donations from the public to pay for billboards to inflame public outrage against the trade, livestock exporters are investing millions of dollars to make tangible improvements to animal welfare standards in foreign markets.

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council says the livestock export trade is a “legal and legitimate industry” which is  responsibly striving to meet community animal welfare expectations.

It also warns that the true consequences of stopping the trade would be to obliterate a billion dollar plus industry and the livelihood of thousands of people.

Nor would a ban of the trade improve animal welfare.

“Australian markets would go to exporters who don’t invest in welfare, don’t train staff in livestock humane handling, don’t consider the health and welfare needs of livestock on trucks and vessels, don’t work to any welfare standards and who don’t strive for continuous improvement,” ALEC chief executive officer Alison Penfold said this morning.

“We could see significant negative welfare consequences for cattle, sheep and goats left here at home without viable markets.”

Suggesting the trade is “criminal in nature” was simply wrong, she said.

Last month a Federal Government review found that the mandatory Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) introduced three years ago to improve welfare standards in the trade was working, with the continuous tracking system showing that more than 99pc of the 8 million animals exported since that time had experience positive welfare outcomes.

Ms Penfold said the industry acknowledged that despite this result there had been a number of serious incidents of mistreatment that had caused pain and suffering to the animals involved and that “it must do better to prevent further incidents”.

The industry was striving to achieve a “zero harm” goal for all exported livestock, Ms Penfold said.

Animals Australia says that in 2015 it will ensure that politicians are reminded that live exports are “a crime against animals” at every turn, and has vowed to continue its campaign if needed right through until the next Federal election.

The group says that despite Government assurances that live export companies would be punished for breaking the rules, it was business as usual while animals kept suffering.

“The Abbott government continues to insist live export rules are ‘working’ but this is untrue,” Animals Australia says on its fund-raising website.

“We are seeing more violent acts of abuse than ever before and re-offending companies are not being held to account.

“Until now they could rely on the suffering of animals being far from public view, thousands of kilometres away. So on taxis we’re bringing the truth about live export closer to home.”

“Just imagine if every single day, the very politicians who have the power to end this trade, were confronted with the truth of what they are supporting as they drive to work, as they travel to the airport, as they wait at the traffic lights,” AA says on its website.

“Imagine if we could keep the truth about live export on export on high impact billboards and other strategic sites across the country right up until the next Federal election.”

Animals Australia says it has one of Australia’s top media buyers booking the best locations around the country “to ensure this message is seen by those who most need to take notice”.

The group also claims that “many” Coalition politicians are already uncomfortable with their party’s support of live export.

“They know that the vast majority of Australians consider it to be immoral and cruel.

“Now they need to know that Australians consider live export a crime that no government or political representative could or should support.”

Ms Penfold said the livestock export industry had come a long way with animal welfare reforms, with new regulatory parameters extending exporter responsibility onto foreign soil, investment in new and improved infrastructure and the training of over 7500 workers overseas in animal handling, husbandry and slaughter which has seen Australia lead animal welfare standards among about 100 livestock exporting nations.

“We all want the humane treatment of livestock but we do not accept that banning the Australian live trade is the way to achieve it.

“Rather than spending money on billboards and buses as a means to improve animal welfare, Australian live exporters and their customers are investing in people and livestock facilities around the world to ensure the welfare of livestock in our charge through practical on-the-ground training and improvements in handling, husbandry and slaughter practices.

“We know we are not done yet and will continue to implement improvements to our practices and infrastructure by working constructively with our customers and facility operators that handle Australian livestock.”


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  1. Russell Lethbridge, 09/02/2015

    Katrina, where were you and all your do-gooder friends and organisations that are supposed to care about the welfare of animals, when as a result of live export ban, tens of thousands of animals suffered horrible deaths being bogged in waterholes and dams, starving to death. These same animals would have been spared this fate if producers had access to all available markets. Every industry organisation is committed to maintaining and improving ESCAS which already exceeds the requirements of the international animal welfare standards. I see your type as being nothing but unreasonable and hypocritical. If you put as much time, energy and money into trying to help animal based agriculture, you may find the outcome more favourable all round. Since you brought up human slaves and trafficking, as we speak there are orphanages in parts of Africa that have up to 5000 babies and children in them who never knew their parents most likely due to aids and poverty, most of these children are never let out of their cots. Why don’t you direct some of your resources to helping fellow human beings??

  2. Colin White, 09/02/2015

    I would like an assurance from Animals Australia that they are not supported by either JBS or the meatworker’s union.
    It is incongruous that the keeper of a cat and goldfish can become arbiters of animal welfare.

  3. Edgar Burnett, 07/02/2015

    Katrina, I do hope that you are not comparing the legal Live Cattle Export Trade (LCET) which is providing excellent food for people, with the illegal drug trade and illegal human trafficking because if you are, your credibility within the average Australian community would have to be severely in question.

    Regarding your comment about the refrigeration and Bahrain. Did the suspension of the LCET into Indonesia result in a similar result? – I think not. Indonesia is buying increasing amounts of Boxed Beef (BB) but not the dramatic increase that you are suggesting. And 40% of the households in Indonesia would be A LOT of people and consequently A LOT of meat.!

    I do not dispute your figures about the refrigeration and it is only one of the factors driving the LCET. One of the main drivers of the LCET is the cost of BB in Australia

    You want the BB Trade to prevail over the LCET as I do, because the LCET amounts to exporting jobs. However, it is common knowledge that the Australian Cattle Processing costs vary from being high to very high on global standards and this has been one of the main drivers of the LCET. If you are a Cattle Producer with plenty of debt (who most have), and tell your Bank Manager that you refuse to sell into the more profitable LCET , it would be the quickest way for him to refer you to his/her Bank’s High Risk Department!

    What are the opponents of the LCET doing about these ridiculous costs? Are they –
    1) Lobbying the Federal Government to break the power of the Multinational Beef Processing Company Duopoly so that Australian Cattle Producers are not getting screwed by them price-wise? (We have just had the ACCC approve JBS’s purchase of Primo in southern Australia which will further lessen competition for the purchase of meats).
    2) Lobbying the RBA to lower it’s Interest Rate to a level comparable with the America, Europe, Japan and England so that the Au$ loses its artificial strength and consequently Australian Cattle Producers would receive just remuneration price for all of the money and effort that they put into producing cattle for sale?
    3) Lobbying the various Governments to get rid of some of the Red Tape that is costing Australian Cattle Producers Goodness knows how much? The NLIS is a classic example. There are very few markets where NLIS has resulted in an increase in income to Australian Cattle Producers – the EU Market would be one of the few exceptions and it’s volume is a very very small percentage of the total Australian volume.

    The cost of Good and Services in Australia has become a joke by world standards – you only have to listen to the Western World Backpackers who come “Down-under” to experience the “Lucky Country” – they think it is a joke!

    I do appreciate your concern for the welfare of animals, as most Cattle Producers do but for Goodness sake, get real!

  4. Katrina Love, 06/02/2015

    My bad, Edgar – my response was actually directed at the comment above your, by Peter Groves – I mis-read on my phone.

    Yes, you could say I’m an opponent of live exports – I have been campaigning against live animal exports for nearly a decade and my paid job is actually with a Fremantle-based organisation that was formed in the mid 90s and whose sole objective is to see this trade end.

    Edgar, are you aware that every country we currently export live animals to, with the exception of Turkey, also import chilled Aussie beef and/or lamb and more importantly, are you aware that a review undertaken in 2011 by Market Vision Research & Consulting Services, a Dubai-based company, noted that in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain there was near universal household refrigerator ownership at 99.5% and 73% freezer ownership?

    Even in Indonesia then (2011) estimates of household refrigeration were as high as 60% – that will have gone up since then and with a rapidly growing economy and rising personal incomes, it will only continue to increase. Whilst one could argue that it may be a mitigating factor for some Indonesians, there is no reason to be sending live animals to the Middle East.

    When we suspended trade to Bahrain in 2013 after their MoU breach that saw 21,000 sheep massacred in Pakistan, their sheep meat imports went from under 300 tons to over 13,000 – that equates to over 600,000 sheep that were stunned and slaughtered in Australia under Australian law, to Australian standards, by Australian workers – spared a fully conscious slaughter and kept jobs and profits here.

    I guess the compensation would be the same as that which went to those who profited from slavery and the whale trade when that ended. Because something is profitable doesn’t make it ethical – just look at the drug trade and human trafficking.

  5. Edgar Burnett, 06/02/2015

    Katrina, I am an opponent of un-stunned slaughter as well so I cannot see the point of you comment.

    You are obviously an opponent of Live exporting so what are the details of the compensation due to all of the businesses that are carrying out this legal and legitimate should it be banned? And what are your plans for the production of food the take place of the meat if you are successful in banning this Industry?

    Do you know that one of the drivers for the live export of cattle is that there are plenty of people in these countries who do not have fridges and therefore their food has to be kept alive until it is needed for consumption?

  6. Katrina Love, 04/02/2015

    Edgar – both Animals Australia and RSPCA are vocal opponents to un-stunned slaughter, whether Kosher or Halal.

    Why is it that people so loudly protest Halal slaughter (which, under Islamic law CAN be done with pre-stunning) but seem to ignore Kosher slaughter in which pre-stunning is forbidden?

  7. Katrina Love, 04/02/2015

    As I have stated many times previously, it is absurd to suggest that more than 99% of the 8 million animals exported since ESCAS’ inception have experienced “positive welfare outcomes”.

    Firstly, there is simply no evidence to back up a claim that over 99% of animals have experienced no negative welfare outcomes – this is based only on an absence of REPORTED breaches or animal welfare issues. Whilst there may be an absence of REPORTS of welfare issues, this does not equate to an absence of welfare issues, just an absence of the reports, because Animals Australia can’t be in all places at all times and industry sure as hell isn’t self-reporting unless it suspects someone else will report them first.

    Secondly, no rational or reasonable person would consider that 70% of animals exported live from Australia having their throats cut whilst fully conscious, after 4 to 41 days aboard ships would be a “positive welfare outcome” when they would have been stunned first in Australia and spared the voyages.

    Thirdly, whilst certifying pregnant cattle as not pregnant, and allowing sheep and cattle to continually “leak” from supply chains may not be criminal (though it should be), the falsification of documents most certainly is, and no surprise that the person accused of this heads up the Jordanian export company which now has 18+ ESCAS or ASEL breaches recorded against it.

    Ms Penfold might have us all believe that this industry is squeaky clean and altruistic in nature, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  8. Brian Wark, 02/02/2015

    Animals are incredible creatures, whatever their metamerism, their purpose, their character and their habitat – we cherish them so long as they don’t try and eat us. Most animals on earth are left alone to go about their lives, eating, drinking and reproducing. The more exotic the specie the more we want to know about them and protect them from the ever enroaching human beings. We are all here on earth for some reason or another and have, since time immemorial, sought food from wherever we can to sustain our daily lives. For the most part we tend to consume beef, lamb, fish and vegetables of all kinds. Some countries, like Australia, have all of these foods in abundance, others do not. Some countries, like Australia, also have broadacres to produce more of these staples than they can consume domestically, so they grow them for those who are not so fortunate. The traditional cultures and customs of the less fortunate countries, mainly prefer to receive our well bred animals live so that they can slaughter them themselves in accordance with their own customs. We, as recognised grower of sheep and cattle, have always been willing live exporters of our livestock, a method which has constantly seen vast improvements in all facets of care and handling, notwithstanding repeated interference from bodies that have agenda’s hostile to the live sheep and cattle export industry. The industry has listened patiently to the concerns of animal welfare bodies and have reacted accordingly, with a myriad of improvements, but it’s still not enough for these radicals, they want to destroy the livelihoods of producers and in the process deny fresh meat to those less fortunate seeking our produce. To Animal Australia I say this – you have had a fair go by way of being fully consulted about best practices and the like, now it is time for you to take down your billboards and let an industry which has suffered terribly these past 2-3 years, get on with their business. You need to back off before you do more damage, as if you haven’t done enough.

  9. Val Dyer, 02/02/2015

    Given that the live export of cattle has increased demand in a short supply environment, one might be forgiven for thinking that Australian processors might once again be supporting the view of Animals Australia. Does the processing industry accept the legitimacy of live animal exports and comfortable with participating in a long overdue demand/supply situation which has turned in favour of producers? There have been too few buyers in the Australian market for too long and it makes sense to fatten and process offshore just like the clothing, footwear, textile, car and many other processors. Will the processors comment?

  10. Edgar Burnett, 02/02/2015

    These people are trying to shut down thousands of legal and legitimate businesses without any plans at all for compensation so who are the criminals?
    For the sake of the Industry, what ALEC must do is –
    1) Get an equally sized campaign going explaining what is exactly going on in the Industry, especially how much everyone (including these AA people) benefits economically from this Industry.
    2) Make sure that anybody who is breaking ESCAS regulations be fined appropriately.
    3) Make sure that such action is well publicized as it happens.
    4) Seek precise details from AA of what compensation they are offering for the closing down of this Industry because if the rights to export are taken away, is is only fair that all parties be compensated.
    5) If they will not come up with the details, tell the Australian people because that would be a good story on its own.

  11. peter groves, 02/02/2015

    Next they will be trying to stop livestock from getting on trucks. Tell them to take on a worthwhile campaign like insisting on stunning before halal slaughter. Of course they and the RSPCA don’t want to go there. Just hypocrites !

  12. Mark Minnis, 02/02/2015

    I would really like to know where these people come from they live with there eyes closed we have humans who are worth a lot more than a cow or sheep.
    There are babies who are being slaughtered every day across the world but you never see these do gooders there to offer a helping hand at the end of the day God said to us to have dominion over the beast of the field fish of the sea etc not animals over us.
    I have been in the industry all my life and i am the first person that hates and detests cruelty to animals but why they are fabricating these lies the cost could be destroying to this nation.
    We need a government who is prepared to stand up for the rights of this nation and its people rather than being some people please so get off you shiny ass and keep the dream alive after all this is AUSTRALIA.

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