09/06/2011 - 12:49

Time to stop slaughter in our backyard

09/06/2011 - 12:49


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While the public spotlight on the offshore ill treatment of animals bred for slaughter is commendable, why does the RSPCA shirk such action when it comes to our own backyards, literally?

While the public spotlight on the offshore ill treatment of animals bred for slaughter is commendable, why does the RSPCA shirk such action when it comes to our own backyards, literally?

Where is the high profile campaign against introduced species such as cats which indiscriminately kill and torture native animals, many of which face extinction? Cats are not only known to be cruel, their murderous conduct night after night in Australia’s suburban and semi-rural settings is on a scale that dwarfs anything a few Indonesian slaughterhouses could achieve.

I’ve never seen that dark secret aired on Four Corners.

Perhaps it’s time for Australia’s pet owners to see prime time footage of well-fed moggies ripping apart some harmless marsupials.

When it comes to that kind of purposeless slaughter the RSPCA is far more circumspect than its anti-live export campaign. The society says it believes state government policy on the management of cats in the community must maintain a balance between the need to ensure the welfare of cats and the need to reduce the potential negative impacts of cats on humans and wildlife.

Why is the welfare of bloodthirsty cats more important than farmers and their families?

Why is the RSPCA so diplomatic when it comes to this subject yet able to leap on the front foot when it comes to the cattle industry?

Is it because farmers are not part of its constituency and being tougher on cats would offend the sensibilities of urban people who support this institution?


While the above is, partly, in jest – it does provide some context regarding this narrow issue which has, in my view blown out of all proportion because the federal government has, yet again, lost control of the agenda.

No matter how horrific the video of animal slaughter in Indonesia may be, the government is wrong to react in a kneejerk fashion to short-term political heat – it ought to be considering the national interest first.

There is no doubt that trade with Indonesia should have been suspended, but the six-month freeze is too long and will cause too much unnecessary damage.

Surely a few weeks would have been enough to identify the slaughterhouses that met appropriate standards and ensured that cattle could be shipped without bringing the industry to its knees?

While the treatment of animals on foreign shores may have been callous, this federal government’s ability to destroy businesses by press release is formidable – as numerous victims of its populist policies have found out. Ask the roof insulation installers for a start.

One has to wonder at the government’s failure to balance the national interest – both a significant industry and our relationship with an important neighbour – with its need to acquiesce to the extreme agenda of its conservationist partners.

The people behind this video have made it clear that they want the live export trade shut down. This is not about a few rogue slaughterhouses in a third world country, it is about banning live animal exports to any destination. In fact, I can’t help thinking that this shock tactic is part of a longer term agenda to get meat off the table.

The history of the live trade is indisputably troubled by issues surrounding the treatment of the animals involved.

Nevertheless, the industry has managed to improve its standards over the decades in response to the growing squeamishness of the Australian public which is increasingly removed from the production processes involved in food.

The air conditioned sheep ships we see today are a far cry from the carriers we saw in Fremantle 20 years ago.

A responsible government would put its energies into finding a real solution by working with the industry and our foreign partners to divert cattle away from abattoirs that breach acceptable standards. A taskforce of experts would be both cheaper and, ultimately, more effective because the current ban means that Australian cattle saved from slaughter will simply be replaced by South American animals.

Of course, the conservationists don’t seem to have considered that outcome because their target is the live trade from here, not elsewhere.

This is yet another example where the government has been hijacked by a minority agenda without considering the real ramifications of its actions.




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