Live Export

Livex council challenges WSPA poll claims

Beef Central, 14/08/2013

The World Society for the Protection of Animals has stepped up its campaign against live exports by using findings from an opinion poll to tell Australia’s politicians that banning the trade is a vote winner.

However live export industry leaders say the group’s claims do not provide a considered picture of public opinion, and have pointed to other public surveys that show most Australians support the live export trade.

The World Society for the Protection of Animal said research it commissioned through polling organisation Nielsen shows that the vast majority of Australian voters are set to vote for a candidate who favours a phase out of the live export of sheep and cattle.

“The research showed that 86pc of Australians would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to phase in the chilled meat trade as an alternative to live export,” a WSPA media release issued this morning reads.

“This issue has support from across the political spectrum. Liberal (82%), Labor (90%) and undecided (84%) voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a transition away from live exports.”

WSPA said that only three percent of Liberal voters and two percent of those who will vote for Labor are strongly opposed to an MP or candidate who would phase out live export in favour of a chilled meat trade.

“With the election just a few weeks away, this research confirms once and for all that live export is a key election issue. Jodie Jankevics, WSPA Australia’s Head of Campaigns, said.

“So many Australian voters feel so strongly about live export that it has become a no-brainer for MPs and candidates to support a transition away from live export.

“It will boost the Australian economy, it will bring regional jobs, it is good for the animals and it’s evidently a vote winner.”

WSPA said its survey was based on the findings of a Nielsen omnibus poll of 1500 people aged 18 years and over, as a survey of 200 people aged 18 years and over in each of six key marginal electorates – Barton, Braddon, Denison, Fremantle, Kingsford Smith and Perth.

In response the Australian Livestock Exporters Council said the WSPA research did not give a comprehensive view of genuine voting intentions.

“The WSPA research was undertaken as part of an omnibus poll which means it is a poll across a range of unrelated issues from different clients who pay per question,” a media statement from ALEC chief executive officer Alison Penfold stated.

“It is not a dedicated research project and does not give a considered view of voters’ attitudes to the livestock export trade.

Ms Penfold said the WSPA results stood in stark contrast to independent research of public opinions commissioned by the National Farmers Federation.

“Unlike WSPA, the livestock export sector has a genuine interest in understanding community values on livestock exports, rather than pushing one particular view.

“That’s why we supported the work of the National Farmers Federation in November 2012 to undertake the most comprehensive and detailed research into public attitudes to livestock exports ever completed.

“Voters were given real choices, were presented with both sides of the livestock export debate, and were therefore provided with the opportunity to provide a considered response.”

She said the NFF poll showed that voters have expectations about animal welfare but understand the importance of the trade to our nation.

A summary of the NFF Research found:

  • Live exports simply do not rate as an unprompted issue. Of the 1000 respondents, not one raised it.
  • When prompted, two thirds of respondents supported continuing the live export trade, rather than banning it or phasing it out and, of these, three quarters held that opinion strongly.
  • When asked if the trade should be phased out if humane treatment cannot be guaranteed support for this notion climbs momentarily to 65 percent, however the instant any consequences of such a ban are raised, support for the idea of a ban or phase out collapses and support for continuing the trade and working with industry climbs to 69 percent supporting and 21 percent opposing.
  • When asked if they would be pleased or concerned if their MP supported a ban or phase out, 60 percent said they would be concerned and only 22 percent would be pleased.
  • Among all voters, 44 percent said they would definitely or probably vote against their MP were a ban or phase-out implemented – only 22pc said they would vote for their MP.

“With the above said, livestock exports and animal welfare deserve more than a battle of the polls,” Ms Penfold said.

“Polling won’t and isn’t delivering the improvements to animal welfare on the ground in markets.

“Rather greater collaboration and cooperation across sectoral interests including WSPA about how we can improve animal welfare in the markets in which we operate is the more responsible choice.

“With over 10,000 jobs and a contribution of $1.8 billion to GDP at stake, the debate around livestock exports deserves a far deeper and earnest discussion than a battle of the polls will ever deliver.”

Ms Penfold said the livestock export sector understood it must do much more for the community to bring it into its trust and demonstrate that the trade is delivering the welfare outcomes that are expected.

“Thousands of animal and stock handlers around the world and millions of animals have been beneficiaries of our in market commitment and investment but there is no resting on our laurels with much more work to be done.”

Coalition takes stand for Live Exports

Meanwhile today’s WSPA press release has also prompted the Nationals to reinforce their support for the live export trade.

On Kalala cattle station near Katherine in the Northern Territory, leader of the Nationals Warren Truss said the live trade would be strengthened under a Coalition government.

“We will never abandon producers their families and entire communities who rely on the trade,” Mr Truss said.

“WSPA’s position is hypocritical and shows that it has no interest in animal welfare in live export destination countries.

“The live cattle ban to Indonesia still has people reeling, not just in the top end, but across WA and QLD, along with forcing lower prices on producers through southern markets,” he said.

In the same media release, coalition agriculture spokesman John Cobb, who is meeting with cattle producers in Emerald, Queensland, tomorrow, said the Nationals will not stand idly by and see the industry destroyed by Labor or by extremist animal rights groups running self-serving political campaigns.

“Labor’s live export ban not only devastated Australian farmers, it damaged our relationship with one of our most important neighbours and trading partners – Indonesia,” Mr Cobb said.

“A Coalition Government has pledged to repair relations with Indonesia after Labor’s unilateral live export ban and allow our farmers to get on with their business.

“With growing food requirements to Australia’s north and throughout Asia, we need to be backing this industry… Not crippling it.

“The Nationals will continue to fight for farmers and for the vital live export industry.

“Australians understand the importance of the live export trade much better than they did when Labor hastily forced a live export ban upon us without due consideration.

“The damage from that spineless decision continues to this day.

“Under a Coalition Government, the live export trade will receive the government support it deserves,” he said.

Duelling polls:

WSPA said its research found: 

  • 86% of Australians would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to phase in the chilled meat trade as an alternative to live export.
  • This issue has support from across the political spectrum. Liberal (82%), Labor (90%) and undecided (84%) voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a transition away from live exports.
  • Only three percent of Liberal voters and two percent of those who will vote for Labor are strongly opposed to an MP or candidate who would phase out live export in favour of a chilled meat trade.
  • Overall 67% claim they are more likely to vote for a political party that promises to end live exports.
  • Labor (73%) and undecided (71%) voters are significantly more like to support the policy.
  • Contrary to what one might assume, more than half of potential Liberal voters (54%) are more likely to vote for a candidate who promised an outright end to the live export trade.
  •  In all of the marginal electorates that were surveyed, combined together, 86% of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to phase in the chilled meat trade as an alternative to live export.
  •   In the marginal electorates, 61% of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised an outright end of live export.
  •   90% of women across Australia would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to phase in chilled meat over live export.
  •   76% of women would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who promised an outright end to live animal export
  •    81% of voters from the electorate of Denison (Tasmania) would support a candidate who supports an outright end to live export – far more than in the other marginal electorates surveyed.

(Methodology – Nielsen carried out an omnibus poll of 1,500 people (18+) as well as surveying 200 people (18+) in each of six key marginal electorates – Barton, Braddon, Denison, Fremantle, Kingsford Smith and Perth. Where mentioned, these figures were combined with four more marginal electorates (Lindsay, Eden-Monaro, Moreton, Corangamite), where the same number of people were surveyed asking the same questions by Lonergan research in November 2012 (also commissioned by WSPA).

Source: WSPA
ALEC said the NFF research found: 

  • Live exports simply do not rate as an unprompted issue. Of the 1,000 respondents, not one raised it.
  • When prompted, two thirds of respondents supported continuing the live export trade, rather than banning it or phasing it out and, of these, three quarters held that opinion strongly.
  • When simple arguments for and against continuing or phasing out a ban are proposed, support for continuing the trade increased very marginally.
  • When asked if the trade should be phased out if humane treatment cannot be guaranteed support for this notion climbs momentarily to 65 percent, however the instant any consequences of such a ban are raised, support for the idea of a ban or phase out collapses and support for continuing the trade and working with industry climbs to 69 percent supporting and 21 percent opposing.
  • When asked if they would be pleased or concerned if their MP supported a ban or phase out, 60 percent said they would be concerned and only 22 percent would be pleased.
  • Among all voters, 44 percent said they would definitely or probably vote against their MP were a ban or phase-out implemented – only 22pc said they would vote for their MP.

(Methodology – In November 2012, Sexton Market Research conducted 1,000 interviews across Australia on behalf of the National Farmers’ Federation to unearth public attitudes toward livestock exports, and the political ramifications of a phase out or ban. Questions were contextualised within other issues to eliminate bias.
1000 interviews were conducted in total, consisting of 400 as a national sample and 600 in marginals electorates, specifically Brand, Capricornia, Corangamite, Deakin, Eden Monaro, Greenway, La Trobe, Lingari, Moreton, Page, Petrie and Robertson. The poll found that the collapse of public support and consequent political damage was similar to the real-life situation during the Indonesian live export suspension, where initial support for the suspension due to the poor treatment of animals fell once the human consequences of the suspension became apparent.)

Source: ALEC

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