Live Export

Mack in quandary over RSPCA connection

James Nason, 18/08/2011

The Brett family's Mack truck carting cattle at Waterloo Station pictured on the front of Mack's Bulldog magazine.Mack Trucks has moved to distance itself from its long-running support of the RSPCA in the wake of the society’s public campaigns against live exports.

The famous trucking brand has found itself in an awkward position after the animal welfare organisation it has backed took a lead role in a national campaign to end live exports – an industry that supports the businesses and livelihoods of many Mack truck owners and operators.

Mack’s support for the animal welfare group has included the donation of a $250,000 Mack Premium truck for use in the RSPCA’s EMU mobile education unit.

The EMU is a mobile classroom that travels Australia communicating the RSPCA’s messages and policies to children.

An RSPCA spokesman said yesterday the messages communicated in the classroom include the organisation’s policies to end live exports.

The importance of the live export industry to Mack Trucks was reflected in its summer 2010 corporate magazine, Bulldog, in which the cover story featured a Mack Titan owned by the Brett family of Waterloo Station near Katherine.

Since the RSPCA-advocated suspension on live exports to Indonesia took effect on June 7, the Bretts have become public faces of the financial and personal impact of the suspension on northern cattle families and businesses.

Their story has been told regularly in the national media, including on 60 Minutes in late July when Dougal Brett explained that the ban had prevented the family from earning an income since last October and was unable to sell $1.5m worth of cattle that it needed to pay its bills. (See separate story on the Brett's view here)

When approached by Beef Central yesterday Mack Trucks issued a statement distancing itself from its involvement with the RSPCA.

The company confirmed it did have an association with RSPCA with respect to the EMU, and said it “supported the purpose” of providing education to children about caring for animals.

However, Mack said it had donated the 2006 model Premium to the RSPCA over four years ago and had “no ongoing relationship with the Society at this time”.

“Mack Trucks truly appreciates the challenges currently being faced by the livestock industry in Australia and also has a long and valued relationship with the Australian Livestock Transporters Association in all states, as well as on a national level, and will of course continue to do so.

“Through our dealer network and as a company, we will continue to support our customers in this industry. It is of course in everyone's interests to have the transporters of livestock running successful business operations.”

The stated timing of Mack’s donation contrasts with a Brisbane newspaper article which reported on the presentation of a Mack truck to the RSPCA in January this year. In the article the RSPCA’s Michael Beatty said Mack had been supplying trucks to the RSPCA since 2002. “They have been lending these to us most of the time, but now they’re permanently donating a brand new truck.”

However in response to that article Mack maintains that the donation was made in 2006 and reiterated that it has no ongoing relationship through sponsorship or otherwise with the RSPCA.

It added that the newspaper which printed the article in January was “not a Mack Trucks publication”.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty told Beef Central the organisation was grateful for Mack’s support.

“They have been very supportive and we’re very grateful, and we would never say anything against them,” Mr Beatty said.

He said that while Mack had sold trucks that worked in the live export trade, many of its trucks also transported cattle to abattoirs within Australia. The RSPCA’s policy is for live export cattle to be transported and processed within Australia.

• See separate story: "Bretts stand by the Bulldog brand"


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