The issue of live animal exports has come to the fore in recent months ever since the ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ program exposed examples of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs. Graphic footage of cattle being kicked, whipped and beaten prior to slaughter has angered many people. This led to the Federal Government putting a temporary ban on live cattle exports.
Millions of animals are exported live on ships from Australia every year. Tens of thousands do not survive the weeks long journey while those that do often end up in places where they are killed in inhumane ways. If disease doesn’t kill them they face the likelihood of having their throats cut while still conscious.
Live cattle exports are worth an estimated $300 million a year in Australia. The industry is mostly dominated by huge multinational companies who have no interest in anything other than increasing their profits.
While wages for meat industry workers in Australia are low, wages paid to workers in places like Indonesia are a pittance. The reason the big live stock companies export animals is because it is much cheaper to process them off-shore. At the same time they cut costs because animal welfare laws and health and safety standards are much less stringent in under developed countries.
From an animal welfare point of view it is clear that the transportation of live cattle and sheep should be kept to a minimum. The slaughtering should be done in the most humane way possible and once the meat has been processed it should be either frozen or vacuum sealed for transport.
The Socialist Party supports the banning of live exports but adds that this on its own will not solve the problems in the industry. As long as food production is controlled by big business they will continue to prioritise profits over animal welfare and workers wages and conditions.
The only way to really address animal welfare, and to ensure food is produced for need and not profits, is to bring the big food, live stock and agriculture companies into public ownership. On the basis of public ownership, and democratic control, a sustainable plan for food production and distribution could be implemented therefore cutting across animal cruelty and ensuring affordable food for all.