AR-News: LIBERATE: Live Export (Lab, Dem) / Docking / No Bull / No Bulls / No Forest

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Sun Apr 4 19:30:46 EDT 2004

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Below is a reply from Mark Latham's office regarding live export
should they come to power at the next election. (For those
overseas, Mark Latham is the new leader of the opposition in
Australia.) Although nothing is set in stone, at least they're
thinking about the issue rather than Prime Minister John
Howard's total support of the current live export trade.

- - -

Thanks for writing to Mark Latham about the live animal export
trade. Mark has asked me to reply on his behalf.

An incoming Labor Government will make Australia's live export
sector more accountable and require the industry to lift its game
on animal welfare at home and abroad.

In addition to enforcing strict domestic animal standards, Labor
will require the live export industry to improve animal welfare
practices in key export markets.

Labor will develop and implement a program to upgrade animal
welfare practices in Australia's live export markets and test the
results of that program against annual benchmarks. This
program will be developed in consultation animal welfare
experts, the livestock sector, and our trading partners.

A Latham Labor Government will require the livestock sector to
significantly increase investment in animal processing
infrastructure, training to upgrade animal handling practices and
the promotion of animal welfare standards in our live export

Failure to meet established benchmarks for improvement in a
market would result in the denial of an export permit.

Labor's longstanding reform plan for the industry contains a key
commitment to grow the demand for chilled and frozen
Australian meat in our existing live export markets.

Labor will also require the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Forestry to coordinate reporting by the Australian Quarantine
and Inspection Service (AQIS) and the Australian Maritime Safety
Authority on high mortality incidents. AQIS will also have a more
direct role in the administration of the live export regulatory

Under Labor, the Minister for Agriculture will table consolidated
mortality data and AQIS and AMSA mortality reports in both
Houses of Parliament. The consolidated mortality data and
details of transgressing export companies will also be
published on the AFFA website.

A Labor Government will also promote an international
convention standard regulating vessels that transport live
animals by sea.

The Howard Government has ignored countless mortality
disasters and repeated expert warnings on the failure of its
deregulated live export regime putting at risk the reputation of not
only the live export sector but the whole meat industry.

Only Labor has the will to act to clean up the live export trade.

John Cook

- - -

Do you think their plans go far enough? Do you think it's a good
start? Let Mark Latham's office know what you think.

Phone (02) 6277 4022 Parliament House Office
Phone (02) 9829 7477 Werriwa Electorate Office

Fax (02) 6277 8495 Parliament House
Fax (02) 9829 7499 Werriwa Electorate Office

Email: M.Latham.MP at

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Senator Andrew Bartlett, Leader of the Australian Democrats
Speech to the Senate 31 March 2004

I would like to speak today on the issue of the live animal export
trade. This issue is topical at the moment and, indeed, has been
topical, off and on, for many years throughout Australia. The
Senate set up the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare
back in the 1980s. The committee was established on a motion
by former Democrat leader Don Chipp, and one of the first
inquiries of the committee was into the live sheep trade. It came
down with a report and recommendations that highlighted
significant problems with animal welfare in the live sheep trade
nearly 20 years ago. Despite all of the concerns that have been
expressed repeatedly by animal welfare organisations-from the
RSPCA through to Animal Liberation and many other
organisations in between-other community groups, industry
organisations and, most importantly, the general community
there continues to be a clear-cut situation where the level of
cruelty involved in this trade is simply unacceptable. On top of
that, we have clear-cut evidence that the trade costs jobs in
Australia. We have a significant decline in the number of
meatworks in Australia, and a clear opportunity for value adding
in Australia is lost because of the export of live animals as what
is obviously produce in its rawest form.

The trade has basically had 20 years to get its act together.
Despite repeated assurances from consecutive governments
that the trade will get its act together, that it has got its act
together and that standards have been improved, time after time
there is another incident, another public outcry, another inquiry
and more assurances that it is fixed up-until the next time it
happens. I believe the industry has had enough chances and it
is time to genuinely look at moving to phasing it out. There is
clearly an alternative industry that is actually bigger. The
slaughtered meat trade, the processed meat trade, the frozen
carcass trade, is already four to five times larger than the live
animal trade. The processed meat and frozen carcass trade is
the one that generates jobs in Australia, and it is conducted in a
way that is much closer to acceptable animal welfare standards
than those overseas.

Two things in the last week have once again reinforced the
significance of this issue. On the weekend we had more footage
screened on 60 Minutes highlighting the unbelievable cruelty
involved in the live animal trade. It is not sufficient for the
Australian government to say that they are concerned about
animal welfare standards and to make all the right noises when
it is clear that the animals that are involved in the trade are
subjected to unspeakable cruelty. After 20 years it is clear that
the trade, the industry, is either not willing or not able to address
that level of cruelty. Some of the footage that was shown on 60
Minutes was simply stomach turning in its cruelty to the animals.
What is particularly damning about the footage is that, yet again,
it was up to animal activists, veterinarians, individuals and
non-government organisations to get the evidence. The industry
and governments have repeatedly failed in monitoring and
providing the facts about the reality of what the animals endure,
and it has been up to others to highlight the truth.

I do admit and acknowledge that changes have been made over
time, but a lot of those have been made only because the
industry have been exposed in terms of the level of cruelty that is
involved. The industry's claim that they can, in the long term,
influence animal welfare in countries that we export to simply
does not stand up to the evidence. The trade has been going on
for a long time now, and the animals are suffering enormously
now. The handling and slaughter practices are completely
unacceptable and would not come even remotely close to the
standards that are required here in Australia. There is no way the
industry can credibly claim that they are having a positive impact
on standards overseas. The minimal improvements that have
been made overseas have been happening only as a result of
exposure to material such as that shown on 60 Minutes.
Exposure such as that was in the Australian Veterinary
Association magazine a year or two ago, and I spoke about it in
the Senate at the time. The fact is that the reality of slaughtering
and handling standards of such cruelty, way below the
standards required in Australia, means that the processes in
Australia are being undercut by others who do not have to meet
those standards. In effect, they are subsidising the industries in
other countries that do not have to meet those standards.

I draw the Senate's attention to an article in the Australian on
Monday of last week by Richard Yallop, which highlighted a
Western Australian government report on the live animal export
trade. That report has not been released, perhaps not
surprisingly because it was critical of the live export trade in
terms of its economic impact, not specifically about the animal
welfare components. The report related to the issue of jobs in
the live export trade versus jobs in Australia. It said that the
federal government subsidises the services provided to live
exporters. The report found that the government has distorted the
competition between the live export trade and processed meat
exporters by subjecting the processed meat sector to taxes and
charges not levied on live exporters. So taxes and charges are
levied on the meat sector in Australia that are not applied to the
section of the industry that exports live animals. Also, higher
standards are required of the processed meat sector than those
that apply to the live animal sector. In effect, not only is this
unspeakably cruel industry allowed to continue; it is doing so in
a way that is costing Australians jobs and it is actually being
subsidised by governments along the way. That is an absurdity,
and it is something that needs to be responded to directly. It is
time that that report was formally released.

Yesterday we did have the response by the minister, Mr Truss, to
the Keniry report, which was specifically commissioned
following the latest in a long line of debacles surrounding the live
export industry-the Cormo Express debacle. The report was a
useful contribution and is something that at least gives an
outline of some of the many problems with the industry. But the
terms of reference for the Keniry review related only to the
preparation, selection, loading and shipboard phase of the live
export process. They did not address more comprehensively the
inherent nature of transportation stress. In particular there was
no brief in relation to the treatment of the animals in the
importing countries, about what happens when they get to the
other end, when they are offloaded, when they are transported
again, when they are slaughtered, when they are taken to
market-all of those aspects that are an inevitable component of
Australia's willingness to allow live animals to be exported from

So by necessity, because of the limited terms of reference, the
Keniry review was only able to deal with a certain component of
the industry. It did make some good recommendations, I must
say. But it is disappointing that the minister did not accept all of
those recommendations, and that is something that highlights
again the fact that this industry continues to have the government
in its sway despite the enormous amount of community concern
about the issue. I have no doubt that all senators would be
aware just how strong the concern is amongst the Australian
community about this issue. Signatures from over 100,000
Australians have been tabled in the Senate expressing concern
about the live animal export industry and wanting action. They
have been waiting a long time. The changes that have been
made over the last 20 years have not been adequate. We can
see quite clearly-as we have seen on 60 Minutes and as we
saw from the Cormo Express debacle-that the suffering
continues and that the job losses continue in Australia.

Whilst we welcome the fact there has been some movement
from the government, some adoption of the recommendations,
finally we have a requirement that there will actually be a vet on
board all voyages to the Middle East. That is something that
people have been calling for for well over a decade. What we
need is to ensure that all those reports are provided-and they
will be provided directly to AQIS. Previously we had the absurd
situation of reports provided to Livecorp which this Senate asked
for-I had motions successfully passed requiring reports to
Livecorp be tabled in the Senate-not being tabled because the
government said: 'We can't because Livecorp is an independent
organisation; it's not a government organisation. There are
commercial-in-confidence issues.' So we could not even get on
the public record what the reports showed. We need to make
sure that those reports that are provided to AQIS by these
veterinarians are able to be made publicly available, that there is
not just more of the industry closed shop. There will be a new
code of practice, according to the government. That is welcome
in theory. It is not going to be finalised until the end of this year.
How long is it going to take? How many chances are they going
to get? It might sound good, but that is what we have heard
before, time after time: 'We'll improve the standards. We've done
a review. We'll get a new code of practice; we'll fix it up.' You can
bet that the code of practice will not deal with the problems such
as those that were outlined on 60 Minutes.

The government has outlined the requirements that will be
needed for exporters to get a licence. It talks about requirements
such as demonstrated competency in putting together export
consignments, integrity and the company's export history. There
is no mention of animal welfare. It does not even bother to
mention it in the requirements for getting a licence. I think it is
only a partially positive response from the government, and
some of that is really more words than deeds. The big thing, of
course, is that the government has ignored the
recommendations to not allow export of live animals from
particular ports, which are Portland and Adelaide, at particular
times of the year. That recommendation was made not because
people were wanting to be difficult, just to make life hard; it was
made because it was clearly identified that there were major
problems involved in that that were not going to be able to be
overcome. That has been ignored as well.

That is a fairly disappointing response as far as the Democrats
are concerned. Obviously any improvement is better than
nothing, but there is no point in even pretending that it is going to
address the serious and longstanding concerns about the
cruelty involved in this trade. It is continuing and these sorts of
changes are just not going to address them. The government
has to acknowledge that the trade is taking jobs away from
Australia and involves utterly unacceptable levels of cruelty.
Clearly the industry is not capable of addressing those levels of
cruelty. It also means, as the report in the Australian shows, that
in effect the sector here in Australia that processes meat is
subsidising-and losing jobs as a consequence-the lower
value live export trade.

The reasons that are used in favour of live export against
substitution have been used many times with very little basis.
The suggestion that there is not enough refrigeration in Middle
Eastern countries to take processed meat is simply not true. In
relation to the suggestion that they have to take meat that is
slaughtered in a particular way, halal slaughtering is done in
Australia, and that meat is exported. In the vision that was shown
on 60 Minutes on the weekend they were not even doing it in
accordance with halal requirements. So there is very little
substance to most of the arguments that are put forward. They
are just excuses, and I think the Australian public has had
enough of excuses. It is time to move to get rid of this trade.

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A ban on cosmetic tail docking of dogs has been passed by the
Northern Territory Parliament.

But the amendments to the Animal Welfare Act will still allow tail
amputation for therapeutic reasons.

The changes are part of national efforts to ban the practice but
some groups, including the Australian Veterinary Association,
say the amendments do not go far enough.

Vets will now be the only people who can amputate dogs tails
and only when a case can be made on therapeutic or medical

The laws won support from the Country Liberal Party and the
Independent member for Nelson.

However, both called for the legislation to be reviewed to ensure
it is effective.

The Minister responsible for animal welfare, John Ah Kit, has
agreed to report back to the assembly on changes once they
have started operating.

© 2004 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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A bull that pined for its owner has been led away from his grave
after a vigil lasting a number of days.

Barnaby the bull left his field in the German town of Roedental
and found his way to the cemetery where owner Alfred
Gruenemeyer was buried.

The eccentric farmer is said to have treated his animals likes
pets, allowing several to have the run of his home.

The bull found his way one mile to cemetery and then jumped a
wall before locating his owner's grave. He stayed there for two
days despite numerous efforts to coax him away.

Vets said it was common for dogs to pine for their lost owners,
but they had never heard of a bull doing so.

"It shows an acute level of intelligence. It seems incredible that
a bull could find the exact spot where his master was buried, but
he did it," said Klaus Mueller.

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BEIJING (AP) - Organizers have scrapped plans to hold bullfights
in Beijing after complaints that the event would be cruel to
animals, Chinese media reported Friday.

The first bullfight was to have taken place May 1 in a new
6,400-seat bullring billed as the biggest in Asia.

But members of the Beijing city council complained that the
fights would be inhumane and have "the potential to tarnish
Beijing's and China's image," China Radio International
reported. They called such events "uncultured in Chinese

Promoters were planning to hold Spanish-style bullfights, in
which the goal is to kill the animal, according to news reports.

Instead, promoters plan to use the ring for circuses and "tame
animal performances," the newspaper Beijing News said.

Other critics appealed to organizers not to hold U.S.- or
Canadian-style rodeos, saying bull riding and calf roping could
kill or hurt the animals, according to news reports.,1280,-3932126,00.html

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Europe's demand for beef made 2003 one of the worst years
ever for Amazonian deforestation, according to an international
research report that quotes Brazilian government figures due to
be released soon.

Last year satellite pictures showed that almost 10,000 square
miles of the world's largest continuous forest was lost, a 40%
increase on the 2002 figure.

And this year's loss could be greater, says the internationally
funded Centre for International Forestry Research (Cifor).

The destruction is being driven by escalating European demand
for beef, amid fears of mad cow disease and foot and mouth in
local herds, said yesterday's Cifor report.

EU countries, says the report, now take almost 40% of Brazil's
578,000 tonnes of exported beef. Egypt, Russia and Saudi
Arabia between them import 35%.

The US, which has strict beef quota systems to protect its own
ranchers, only takes 8%.

"The deforestation is being fuelled by beef exports, with cattle
ranchers making mincemeat out of the rainforests," said David
Kaimowitz, director general of Cifor and one of the report's
authors. He said that logging contributed only indirectly to

The Amazon's cattle population more than doubled to 57 million
between 1990 and 2002, says the report.

"[In that time] the percentage of Europe's processed meat
imports that came from Brazil rose from 40% to 74%. Markets in
Russia and the Middle East are also responsible for much of
this new demand for Brazilian beef."

But the report plays down US claims that GM-free soya farming
for the European market was fuelling deforestation.

"Although the last few years have witnessed a great deal of
justifiable concern about the expansion of soybean cultivation
into the Amazon, that still explains only a small percentage of
total deforestation," according to the authors.

Mr Kaimowitz yesterday warned that the rate of Amazonian
deforestation could escalate in the next few years as Brazil
becomes entirely free of foot and mouth disease.

"Since 2003, the states of Mato Grosso, Rondonia, and
Tocantins have been declared FMD-free, and can sell their beef
anywhere they want. These changes have increased prices in
the Amazon, and hence the incentive to deforest", say the

The report suggested that giant ranching operations linked to
European supermarkets were now dominating the beef export

"In the 1970s and 1980s, most of the meat from the Amazon was
being produced by small ranchers selling to local
slaughterhouses. Very large commercial ranchers linked to
supermarkets are now targeting the whole of Brazil and the
global market," said Mr Kaimowitz

Two weeks ago, Brazil's President Luis Inacio (Lula) da Silva
announced £73m of new measures to restrain deforestation in
the Amazon, committing the government to better planning, law
enforcement, monitoring of deforestation and greater support for
indigenous territories and community forestry.

"The government's approach goes in the right direction, but
unless urgent action is taken, the Brazilian Amazon could lose
an additional area the size of Denmark over the next 18 months,"
said Benoit Mertens, an author of the report.

Cifor recommends that the Brazilian government should also try
to keep ranchers off government land, restrict road projects that
open up the forest, and provide economic incentives to maintain
land as forest.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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the wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. he is in front of
it - axel munthe

"Never doubt that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."      Margaret Mead

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