RSPCA national president Lynne Bradshaw has told live exporters to get tough with the “black sheep” in their industry and turf them out before they do the industry any more public damage.
With yet more Animals Australia footage creating damaging headlines for the industry, this time surrounding Australian sheep being mishandled in Jordan, RSPCA president Lynne Bradshaw told exporters it was time for the good operators to take a stance against the bad.
“There is probably some black sheep in your industry that probably need to be turfed out and it is up to the rest of the peer group to do that,” Ms Bradshaw told the conference this morning.
“I wouldn’t like to think that there’s some high calibre companies here that are investing very heavily in improvement and embracing this whole supply chain issue, and they are dragged down in the media because of some of these rogue performers.”
“These things hit the media, they always leak, there is always a problem. I know people say it is only a small percentage of (the industry), but that is not what the public see.”
From the RSPCA’s perspective, the public was “really barely tolerating live export”, she said, and the more that negative footage appeared in the media, the more unpalatable it became.
The role the RSPCA played in helping to bring about the 2011 suspension of live exports in Indonesia was also in the spotlight when Ms Bradshaw addressed this morning’s LiveXchange conference.
In an on-stage interview ABC Landline presenter Pip Courtney asked Ms Bradshaw if she believed Animals Australia and the RSPCA had properly acknowledged the financial and emotional impact that the suspension had on people involved in the northern beef industry.
“I think that we’re a welfare organisation for animals, but obviously we recognise the human component, and it has been quite devastating for some.
“For a long time the RSPCA was advocating to say hang on, this is a disaster waiting to happen.
“Producers were so dependent on this fickle trade and you don’t have anything else… Any business model would say well what is plan B, where is your diversity coming from, and unfortunately I think some people were caught short there.”
She said the RSPCA had never advocated for instant cessation of the trade, but once the Animals Australia footage was released on Four Corners, the RSPCA was duty bound as a welfare organisation to participate from a science perspective.
Mr Bradshaw told the audience that RSPCA sees itself as a science based welfare group. It was not anti-farmer and it was not a vegetarian group that was encouraging people to eat lentils.
She said the RSPCA was very different to Animals Australia: “the RPSCA is representing mainstream view and many of the organisations out there are representing the vegetarian culture, which has grown to about 7pc of the population.”
Ms Bradhsaw said the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, while rushed, had been one of the best things to ever happen from a welfare perspective.
However, she said it was unlikely the RSCPA would ever support the live export trade because it involved transporting animals long distances.
However, despite that unwavering policy, she said while the trade was operating the RSPCA wanted to work with the industry to improve welfare outcomes.
The RSPCA was not asking for change instantly, but rather through incremental improvement.
She said that while the public was only seeing negative messages about the trade, work being done with ESCAS had the potential to help improve public confidence in the trade.
“It is probably in hindsight the best thing that has happened… It has actually been a leg up so to speak to get the agenda moving forward, and to get some security of tenure.
“If the public can latch on to that and be satisfied that the process is working there is probably more hope to calm things down.”