My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for today 22 May 2018

by ray goodlass

Government’s live sheep export ‘solution’ a total con job

Last Thursday’s headline made it look as though the Lib/Nats federal government had acted decisively and humanely to deal with the licensed cruelty to animals that poses as the live sheep export trade.

But nothing could be further from the truth. True, space allocated to sheep on live export ships to the Middle East will be increased by up to 39% and directors of live export companies who flout the new rules will face up to 10 years in prison. Independent observers will also be placed on all live sheep and cattle ships.

These are though only superficial changes and the problem can only be solved by a transition to a total ban.

Nationals MP and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said at a press conference in Sydney that though he was disgusted by the footage of distressed and dying sheep, implementing a ban would harm Australian sheep producers.

This is nonsense of course, for chilled meat from animals slaughtered humanely here in Australia would in fact be of far greater economic benefit than the live export trade.

The reaction to these so called reforms has been scathing. The RSPCA said the recommendations were “weak” and “not based on science or evidence”.

“These recommendations completely ignore the science and are not enough to reduce the risk of either consistent harm to animals or the catastrophic conditions we’ve seen previously,” the RSPCA’s chief science officer, Dr Bidda Jones, said.

Jones said Littleproud’s announcement was a betrayal of the trust placed in him by animal welfare organisations.

The Animals Australia founder, Lyn White, said the recommendations were “an appalling breach of faith with the Australian community.”

“This is a lily-livered government response designed to protect exporters, not animals,” White said.

There are two private member’s bills before parliament to ban live exports. The Australian Greens immediately confirmed the crossbench Senate bill to end live sheep exports will proceed on June 18 after the Independent Review of Conditions failed to give recommendations that would guarantee that the mass deaths of sheep on live export ships will end.

“Minister David Littleproud effectively set this inquiry up to deliver recommendations that suit the interests of the live export industry,” Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“We have no doubt the review’s author Mr McCarthy conducted his investigations in good faith,  however by not allowing the review to countenance a complete transition away from the trade, the Minister has ensured the review is a stitch-up.

“This is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The live sheep trade is going down and the Minister is failing to support farmers and processing plant owners to make an orderly transition to domestic processing.

“We will proceed with the Senate bill to transition out of live sheep exports on June 18” Senator Rhiannon concluded.

Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale said “I call on Labor, the Liberals and all members of the crossbench to support the Senate bill to end this cruelty.”

Basically all the government’s so-called reforms are doing is to ‘kick the can down the road’, leaving it for someone else to deal with in the future. For goodness sake, do the right thing now and ban all live animal exports. It is the humane and economically sensible thing to do.