Home-grown animal welfare advocates living and filming in importing countries have emerged as the new wave of foot soldiers in the animal welfare movement’s war against live exports.
Animals Australia communications director Lyn White told an RSPCA live export symposium in Brisbane last Friday that animal advocates in importing countries were taking up video cameras to film cattle handling practices in local markets, inspired by the success of Animals Australia and RSCPA’s recent campaign to shut down Australia’s live export trade to Indonesia.
She revealed that Animals Australia had supplied Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig with new footage from Indonesia three weeks ago, filmed by local Indonesian investigators who were “deeply concerned by their slaughter practices”.
The footage does not involve Australian cattle but Ms White said it reaffirmed the minister’s decision to suspend the trade, because it showed what was still happening in Indonesian abattoirs using Mark I boxes that are not protected by the new regime.
A spokesperson for Senator Ludwig told Beef Central this morning that the minister had received further Indonesian footage from Animals Australia which was "similar to footage provided earlier this year". The minister reiterated his position that the new framework implemented following the month-long ban would assure the welfare of Australian cattle in the Indonesian market going forward.
Ms White said similar footage documenting inhumane treatment of animals in Turkey and Israel had also been filmed and supplied to Animals Australia by animal welfare advocates in those countries.
She conceded that while she may personally find it difficult to gain entry to foreign abattoirs in future, and would probably “need a wig”, there were many people living in foreign markets who would continue to gather evidence.
“It is not going to take a Lyn White to be in these facilities in the future,” Ms White said.
“What’s happened through our work in these countries, and its happened in Turkey, we’ve now got colleagues there, there’s colleagues now in the Middle East, that they are now being empowered by our work to take a stand as well.
“So it is not going to take Australians going in there and getting the footage, it will actually be local people that will be sending footage back to Australia that are not as concerned by their welfare practices and as concerned as we are by long distance transportation.
“I’m sure that evidence will continue to be gathered and that is the problem with sending animals to places where if there are no laws to prevent cruelty from occurring, cruelty will occur.”
Ms White also used the forum to reiterate Animals Australia’s long held view that there are no circumstances under which it would support the continuation of the live export trade.
”Every animal protection organisation in the world is opposed to the long distance transportation by sea,” she said.
“And clearly from a number of speakers today, very well-credentialed veterinarians, professor Clive Phillips, there are inherent welfare problems on ships, no matter how good the ships are, the fact that you are putting animals out onto the open ocean.
“So from an animal welfare perspective we can never support long-distance transportation.
“And obviously we are a long, long way from making treatment humane in importing countries, so the bottom line is that the chilled meat trade is what we’re advocating to replace live export.”
She said that as a minimum Animals Australia believed the Federal Government should introduce mandatory stunning for Australian cattle in export markets. “That is the least that they could do to appease the public concerns at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Minister Ludwig's office confirmed the Government is still considering the recommendations from Bill Farner's independent review of the live export trade submitted on August 31 and would release its response and the report "in due course".
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