On 19th May 2013, I sent the following document to every Australian MP and every Australian senator. Below, you will find their responses and my conclusions:
“I recently saw the movie “Amazing Grace” about William Wilberforce and his campaign to end the slave trade. When viewing the cramped and putrid conditions in which slaves were transported on the sea, I was reminded of the way we now transport our live animals for export.
Although there has been a lot of publicity about the cruelty which faces the animals when they reach foreign ports, many people have forgotten the horrid conditions in which the animals are transported. Just like the slaves of the 18th century, live animals are lucky if they survive the arduous journey. Or would that be unlucky? 30,000 animals die in transit every year. To the live export industry, this figure is a mere statistic; a tolerable loss of income. To each of those individual animals, it is often a slow and painful demise.
As it did with the slave trade, money is standing in the way of the ethical treatment of sentient beings. The sugar plantation owners argued that they would not survive without this cruel trade, just as the live animal export industry does now. A way was found to produce sugar ethically, just as a way can be found to feed Muslims ethically.
Just as history judged harshly those involved in the slave trade, so it will judge those involved in the live animal export trade today. Those who condoned it will be found equally guilty. With so much evidence available, it is impossible to be in favour of live animal exports and claim to be in favour of animal welfare. Condoning the live export industry is tantamount to condoning animal cruelty. In the words of William Wilberforce: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
I call on all current members of parliament, all senators, and all those aspiring to gain those positions, to declare whether they are in favour of, or against live animal exports. How will history judge you?
If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.
― William Wilberforce
For more information:
What response did I receive from these politicians?
Here are some examples of replies:
1/ You will notice that this does not address any of the issues of cruelty inherent in the system, which I raised in my email.
Dear Ms Taylor
Thank you for your email.
Senator Moore has looked art your attached word file and its graphic illustrations and she is deeply concerned about these allegations of further mistreatment of animals sent overseas for the live export trade.
The Minister has made statements today where he said “It’s sickening to find that this has happened again. Industry has stepped up and they’ve voluntarily suspended the trade into Egypt. One of the things that we want to drive home into industry is that they do have to continue to drive for animal welfare outcomes if this trade is to have a bright future. I think the industry, in this instance, has responded very quickly to these complaints to ensure that animal welfare is taken into account.”
The Minister also insisted that animal welfare remains paramount. “The huge difference between when it was left to industry to regulate is that we now have a regulator that can investigate individual supply chains, hold the exporters to account, remedy the circumstances that arise from time to time.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAFF), who are the regulator, will investigate the allegations and they will work with the Egyptian authorities. DAFF will use the current MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).
The Minister also said “Egyptian authorities are also dismayed and are willing to work properly with us.”
Australians find the mistreatment of animals repulsive as do those in the Livestock Export Industry. Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Alison Penfold confirmed the voluntary suspension by the industry and said she was ”distraught” by footage shown to her of malpractice in Egyptian abattoirs. ”These acts are horrific,” Ms Penfold said in a statement. ”The outrageous cruelty has left me and my industry colleagues disgusted and horrified.”
Every claim of mistreatment of Australian animals, including those sent overseas, needs to be investigated so this horror does not continue.
Senator Moore will continue to advocate for the proper and humane treatment of all animals.
Doug Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Senator Claire Moore, Labor Senator for Queensland Level 1, Brunswick Central, 421 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006 PO Box 907, Fortitude Valley Post Shop, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 ph:  3252 7101; Fax:  3252 8957 Suite S1.96, Senate, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 ph:  6277 3447; Fax:  6277 3449
2/ My email did not mention anything about Egypt.
Thank you for your email concerning the Egypt Live Exports Issue. Like all Australians, the Coalition shares public concern regarding the welfare of animals. Reports of animal cruelty are alarming and any mistreatment of animals is simply not acceptable.
We have been advised that the Government is currently undertaking an investigation into the footage from Egypt. It is important that the Government takes the lead in dealing with the concerns raised.
As a result of the breakdown of acceptable and normal practices in Egypt, the industry has immediately suspended all live cattle exports to Egypt until guarantees safeguarding animal welfare are in place.
Furthermore, the industry has called for Egypt to be included in Export supply chain assurance system (ESCAS) to allow accountability and traceability along the supply chain.
The Coalition supports the government’s Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) already in place in other export markets and we support the industry’s request for Egypt to also be included as part of ESCAS.
Australia’s role in leading animal welfare is critical as of the 109 countries that export live animals; Australia is the only country that invests in robust animal welfare standards in destination countries.
As such, Australia’s ongoing role in the live export market is vital to promote our world-leading animal welfare practises so they can be adopted in other countries. The Coalition will continue to take this sensible, methodical approach to ensure that matters arising in the live export market are properly investigated by the government and corrective action and compliance applied where required.
For ongoing updates on action by the government please visit the following link http://www.daff.gov.au/liveexports/home. For an understanding of the process in managing a non compliance please visit the following link http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/export/live-animals/livestock/escas/non-compliance.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
Andrew Southcott MP | Federal Member for Boothby |Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Healthcare
Level 1, 724 Marion Road |MARION SA 5043|P: 08 8374 0511 F: 08 8374 3071 | Canberra – P: 02 6277 4283 F: 02 6277 8473 | W: www.andrewsouthcott.com.au
3/ They actually have a spokesperson for Animal Welfare, not a spokesperson for animal exports.
Thank you for contacting the Greens with your concerns about the cruelty perpetrated on Australian livestock exports, particularly in the wake of the latest evidence of brutality in the slaughter of Australian cattle in two Egyptian abattoirs and goats in Malaysia, obtained by Animals Australia.
You would be aware the Greens have been working hard to end the trade in live exports, and will continue to work hard to achieve this. You can read about the extensive work we have done here.
We have a Bill before Parliament that if passed would end the export of live animals. The Greens are calling on the government to admit that they cannot stop cruel practices in overseas countries and to give certainty to farmers by expanding the trade in processed meat from Australia.
We have released a position paper identifying five key issues the government must address to provide a more economically robust and humane alternative to the live exports trade. You can read the paper here.
This year Greens Spokesperson for Animal Welfare, Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke in Parliament about deaths on live export voyages http://lee-rhiannon.greensmps.org.au/content/speeches-parliament/speech-senate-latest-report-live-animal-voyage-deaths
In February Senate Estimates she kept up the pressure and questioned a number of Government agencies connected with the live export trade:
- Department of Agriculture about revision of animal welfare codes.
- Meat and Livestock Australia officials about their role in policing the live export regulatory system, ESCAS.
- LiveCorp about their operations and involvement in the regulation of live animal exports. link
- Live Animal Export Division about current complaints and investigations including recent events of cruelty in Kuwait, Bahrain and Pakistan.
In November last year Four Corners aired ‘Another Bloody Business‘ which showed horrific footage of Australian animals being buried alive as a result of the live export trade.
Despite hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions and tens of thousands taking to the streets, the Government has failed to guarantee the brutal treatment of our animals in Pakistan and other countries would never happen again or issued a promised report more than six months later.
Not surprisingly, in December last year more shocking evidence of cruelty in an Israeli abattoir re-confirmed the inherent cruelty of the trade, and the Greens repeated our call for the Government to admit the failure of ESCAS and to end live exports.
Sadly, we can’t turn back the clock to save the Australian animals that have already been tortured. But we can make sure it never happens again.
There are a couple of things you can do to help:
a) You can sign our online petition if you have not done so already.
b) You can click the ‘Like’ button on our Ban Live Exports Now facebook page.
c) Let your friends and family know about our bill and ask them to email their local MP and Senator about it.
We can keep you updated as this issue continues to unfold. Just sign up for updates at Senator Rhiannon’s Live Animal Exports web page, which I encourage you to read.
Thank you again for contacting the Greens about this important issue.
Felicity Gray Office of Senator Christine Milne Leader of the Australian Greens GPO Box 896 Hobart TAS 7001 | Ph: 03 6224 8899 | Fax: 03 6224 7599
The Results :
Many didn’t respond. Many were automated responses merely acknowledging receipt. Whilst I understand that with the advent of email, our politicians are often overwhelmed with communication from the public, the quantity of communications they have received on this issue should be an indication of the public’s concern. Many of the responses from Labor and Liberal were similar to examples 1/ & 2/ above – a standard response with one or two words changed.
The Greens were the only party to respond in a manner which attempts to address the concerns of the majority of Australians on this issue.
An article written by Roslyn Wells of SBS states that:
“The great majority of Australians abhors animal cruelty and wants an end to the cruel live export trade. A recent pre-election poll commissioned by animal welfare organisation WSPA found 86 per cent of Australians were more likely to vote for politicians who support phasing out the trade, and 61 per cent of voters in marginal electorates surveyed were more likely to vote for a politician who supported an end to the trade.”
( You can read the entire article at: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/opinion.php?op=359 )
Although Kevin Rudd received this Amazing Grace communication in May, after he was reinstated as Prime Minister, I sent him another letter, suggesting that he conduct a poll, and follow the wishes of the people on this issue. I have not received a response.
Whilst I have only received an automated response from Tony Abbot, his representative in my electorate of Longman, Wyatt Roy, has responded to previous communication on this issue, similarly to the coalition senator above.
A recent email from the current Labor candidate for Longman, Michael Caisley gave similar assurances to the Labor senator quoted above, and pointed out the 10,000 jobs which the industry supports. He added: “Personally, I believe that the industry should transition to a chilled export trade and away from live exports and this is something we should be working towards.” When I asked him how he intended to bring that about, there was no response.
Despite the fact that millions of animals continue to suffer cruelty in the live export industry, and despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Australians have signed petitions to end this cruel industry, both the Labor and Liberal National parties continue to support this industry. Whilst they quote the numbers of jobs which this industry supports, they fail to mention the number of jobs which were lost in the meat processing industry when this industry commenced, and which could be reinstated and surpassed, if the trade in live animals ceased.
I understand that there are other issues in the forefront of some people’s minds for this election (Australian Federal Election 2013), but consider who and what you are voting for. The major parties, knowing the clear wishes of the Australian people in relation to live exports, continue to support this cruel trade in opposition to the people’s wishes. How can we, the people, vote for a party which fails to act according to the wishes of those who elect it. The wishes of the Labor candidate for Longman are not even supported by the party he represents. What chance do we have on issues which are not so clearcut.
I know that a lot of people are concerned about economic issues, and this is what the major parties focus on, but I believe that if we move our focus from economics, and vote according to our values, the universe will support us with economic success. If you vote according to your values, how would you vote? For me, that means a vote for The Greens.