28 May 2012
Andrew voices his opposition to Australia’s continuing involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Mr WILKIE ( Denison ) ( 10:44 ): This week marks the first anniversary of the extraordinary Four Corners program about the cruelty being meted out routinely to Australian cattle exported to Indonesian slaughterhouses. The footage shown that night was nothing short of shocking, and the final images of the beast who had been made to stand and watch one after another of his lot being slaughtered remain seared in my mind. Animal rights activists have given him the name Tommy, but to me he will forever be that beautiful black animal shaking in fear, his eyes bulging in abject terror at what he had witnessed and what he knew would become of him—and know he did, because cattle are more than smart enough to be able to empathise with their kind. Tommy understood exactly what was going on that day.
The government was slow to act one year ago but, as we know, eventually it did, although regrettably in ways much more in accordance with the needs of the live animal export industry than with the needs of the hundreds of thousands of cattle, sheep and goats shipped from our shores every year. Surely it was not too much to expect the government to react in an ethical and, I would add, democratic way considering the clear desire of so many Australians for a genuine clampdown on the cowboys running Australia’s systemically cruel live export industry. Yes, the government did try to ensure that exports will now comply with OIE standards, but this is nowhere near what is needed to ensure that Australian exports are treated humanely, and in any case it is unenforceable due to the absence of any sort of reliable supervisory regime. Hence it surprised no-one when this year two Indonesian slaughterhouses processing Australian beasts were shown on television to be still treating our cattle horrendously. Enough is enough. The government must stop caring more about the profitability of primary producers than the welfare of animals. Even if that is all it does care about, surely it can understand that Indonesia is working towards red meat self-sufficiency and it is in Australia’s economic self-interest to wind back the industry which has cannibalised our own chilled and frozen meat operations.
Of course, cattle exports to Indonesia are just the tip of the iceberg, because there is also, for example, the export of sheep to the Middle East on towering ships where the animals are stuffed on board in appalling and stifling conditions. All this must stop, and one day it will; it must. Shame on this government and this parliament for denying the pressing need to do something about it