AS I arrived home from my Arabic language course in Palestine the first local news to greet me, headlined “Cattle killed with sledgehammers” was a sad example of déjà vu, for we have heard this several times previously. This time the inhumane slaughter was in Vietnam rather than Indonesia, but regardless of where it took place it is in fact clear evidence that the live export trade must end.
It once again highlights that the welfare of stock animals exported from Australia cannot be controlled from a desk in Canberra, despite the claims of Senator Barnaby Joyce and the live cattle export industry.
Calling for an end to the live export trade isn’t only motivated by a call for animal welfare, important though that rationale is.
Instead ending the live export trade can also bring enormous benefits to Australian farming communities.
This is because what Senator Joyce and the advocates of the live cattle export trade fail to realise is that slaughtering cattle here in our own abattoirs here in Australia would create many, many more jobs than the live export trade provides.
This is because live exports may benefit a few pastoralists in the north, but create only a few jobs for ordinary Australians as the work largely consists of herding the cattle on to road train trucks and then on to the boats
In contrast, as we know here in Wagga, regional abattoirs create many, many jobs.
But it could go much further than bolster currently operating abattoirs, for local slaughtering would also rebuild the domestic meat manufacturing industry by opening up new or moth-balled abattoirs across regional and rural Australia.
This would create thousands of jobs, help secure Australia a stronger place in the international trade in processed meat, and help revitalise depressed regional and rural communities.
Vietnam is currently the second largest export market for Australian cattle, with 178,000 animals exported there in 2014.
Only one third of the 350,000 meat slaughterhouses in Vietnam are under control of local authorities.
Thankfully the Greens bill to end live exports is before the Senate.
They also have a position paper setting out the five steps needs to end this trade, though lack of space prevents me going into its detail here. - Ray Goodlass
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