it’s nice when a politician gives a damn

Australian’s were upset, horrified and outraged when the lid was blown by ABC’s Four Corner’s on the live animal export to Indonesia and the shocking conditions in which the cattle are slaughtered for meat.

That story barely scratches the surface of the cruelty inflicted on the animals within the live export trade but at least it raised awareness, and it’s through awareness that ordinary people can help make a difference. I may not be a vegetarian but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care how the food gets to my plate. The regulations are strict in Australia, but it seems that other countries such as the Middle East and parts of Asia don’t have the same laws that regulate how the animal is treated leading up to the kill.

The WSPA emailed out an action plan which included writing a letter to our local MPs that demonstrated our need for action.

WSPA message

Here is my letter sent on the 2nd June:


Subject: It’s time to end live animal exports

Dear The Hon Tanya Plibersek,

I am writing this letter to voice my outrage about Australia’s abhorrent live animal export trade.

As an animal lover I was shocked to hear that around 4 million of our sheep are subjected to live export to the Middle East annually, as are up to a million cattle, most destined for Asia. In a country that prides itself on its animal welfare standards, this is inexcusable. During the inherently risky journey, animals are often subjected to appalling conditions. Imagine enduring temperatures of up to 40 degrees for up to 40 days, without familiar food causing you to starve to death (almost half of all mortalities are due to starvation). It’s something that brings me to tears.

When animals arrive at their final destination they are often treated in ways that Australian meat workers could be fined for. The fact that this cruelty can be avoided makes it even worse.

Contrary to popular belief, live export is not our only option. Australia has a strong chilled and frozen meat trade, which could be expanded to meet the international market demands for meat. In fact, our chilled meat trade has huge potential. So for the sake of our animals and our economy, further developing the chilled meat industry only makes sense.

Whether you focus on the economics or the ethics, live export is a bad thing. So I ask you as a fellow Australian, who wants to do the right thing to transition away from this shameful practice.




And here is the reply from my local MP Tanya Plibersek on the 20th June:

Dear Melissa,

Anyone who watched the footage aired on Four Corners recently would have been shocked by the treatment of the animals shown.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, received the footage on the same day it went to air.  In the time since receiving it, the Minister, and the Government, have undertaken the following actions:

•       asked the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to conduct an investigation into the footage
•       announced that the Government will appoint an independent reviewer to investigate the complete supply chain for live exports up to and including the point of slaughter
•       asked for a briefing on the range of legislative and regulatory options available to respond to issues concerned with animal welfare
•       in the interim, asked for orders to enforce the suspension of live animal exports to the facilities identified by the evidence provided by RSPCA and Animals Australia
•       the Minister will add further facilities to the list of banned facilities in future, if required
•       implemented a moratorium on the installation of the restraint boxes, seen being used in the footage.  This will apply to the instalment of any new boxes with Commonwealth funds across all global markets, and
•       asked the Chief Veterinary Officer to co-ordinate an independent, scientific assessment of the restraint boxes used in Indonesia.

Following the completion of this work, the Government will consider what further actions may be necessary.

The Government shares the legitimate concerns of the Australian community about animal welfare abuses, and is taking the necessary actions to investigate this footage.

Thank you for writing to me on this important issue.

Best wishes,


I know it’s a standard response but I appreciate her response. There is a lot of pressure on the government to act quickly, which they did in the form of a stop-gap immediately after Four Corners aired, by suspending trade to Indonesia until a full investigation could be completed. All Australians need to keep abreast of this issue and place pressure on their local MPs to take action and change the legislation. The latest report is that our Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig is in talks with the Indonesian government to discuss a compromise, but that may come too late as the government is being pressured by the farmer’s to resume live export asap. A Bill has been flagged by Independent MP’s Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie to ban live animal trade by 2014. Meanwhile, Animals Australia and RSPCA have released video from Kuwait showing Australian sheep being shoved into car boots and having their throats cut while fully conscious.

A ban by 2014 is just not quickly enough in my opinion.

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