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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Don't hold your breath

Well, live export is back in the headlines again. Another bad news story, though this time not even the most imaginative opponent could've thought this one up. Apparently, after marching the feedlot staff out under police guard, a mob went in and culled 7000 or so sheep, sheep they claimed to have been infected with either scabby mouth, salmonella or anthrax. It's hard to be sure, cos the disease changed overnight as each one was cleared by independent tests.

It's a bloody mess, and to top it of, reports say sheep were clubbed to death, buried alive and stabbed. If true, and going of Wellards comments sounds like it is, it's wrong. Simple. Personally I think it's a problem of our own making through trying to tell foreign countries what they can and can't do with animals they've purchased. I think the full story behind this has more to do with payback and saving face than any disease. But that doesn't help those sheep. And of course, it's brought the anti live export community out in full force.

One such person is Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator for NSW. Now it's long been the Green policy to ban live exports. Along with forestry, fishing, mining, and basically anything else that actually produces something and doesn't involve rainbows and unicorn poop. She's even started up her own facebook page to push her cause. I can't say it's been a raving success just yet, except for this one thing.

An online acquaintance of mine has asked her a few not so simple questions. Put simply though, they are gold. Very well thought out, asking what the Greens (or anyone else for that matter) support plan is for those affected should they actually get live export banned.

They were posted on Sunday, and as yet, no one has heard boo, except for the page admin to say they'll get back to us tomorrow morning. Which is today. Which, assuming they are on the East Coast, is just about buggered. So the admins post roughly translates to "Please hold while our PR staff write up a many worded fluff piece that sounds substantial but doesn't actually answer anything."

So, for our amusement, I'm going to list the questions below, with Jo's blessing, along with a link to each one. She's got quite alot of support. And soon I hope to have a list of similar questions regarding the sheep industry. If they want to ban live export, fine. But whats plan B for so many of us who rely on it? We don't have the luxury of a taxpayer funded job.

Question 1 -
1. Lee Rhiannon – In the media statement released, 'Greens reintroduce Bill to Ban Live exports', 22.03.12. I would like you to clarify the following!
Why is it a crime that “since the live export trade with Indonesia resumed, cattle have been slaughtered at 62 different abattoirs across Indonesia, 12 of which do not practice pre-slaughter stunning”.
An updated statement would be that there are now 84 abs and 85% stunning.
The question in point, is why, if these abs meet OIE standards and are meeting all the requirements of the ESCAS are they still wrong in your eyes?
As a producer who supplies cattle for Live export I feel I deserve an explanation as to your position on this.

Question 2. -
2. Lee Rhiannon – In the media statement released, Greens reintroduce Bill to Ban Live exports, 22.03.12. You state “It is madness to think that each of these abattoirs can be monitored adequately and enforcement action taken”. In reference to Indonesia,What experience do you have to prove this is true, Have you seen the ESCAS in operation with your own eyes?

Question 3. -
3.Lee Rhiannon - In the media statement released, ‘Greens reintroduce Bill to Ban Live exports’, 22.03.12. You claim that domestic processing of meat in Australia will create thousands of jobs, You also claim that “Jobs in the meat processing industry in Australia dropped from between 40000 to 48000 workers in the 1970’s to around 32000 workers in 2009”.
a. Could you please substantiate these figures? As there was an extensive drought during that period!
b. Did meatworks shut down because of Live export? or did the meatworkers union just give that impression!
c. I would also like to know your views and current understanding of how many people who are employed in abattoirs operated in Australia are actually 457 visa workers?
d. How many positions remain unfilled at meatworks currently across Australia?
e. Currently it costs $340 per beast to process a beef animal in Australia, how do you intend to make this price competitive against overseas abattoirs such as Indonesia where it costs $30, or even USA $150.
f. Are you able to clarify when the layoffs occurred if Abattoirs were operating at full capacity then and are they operating at full capacity now?
g. What is the current lead time to have animals booked into an abattoir for slaughter? Please be specific as to which Abattoir you specify.

Question 4 -!/BanLiveExportsNow/posts/506400186037262

4. Lee Rhiannon – RSPCA don’t regard the long haul distance of transport in Australia as an animal welfare issue in itself compared to the ability to transport overseas and the animals having greater space, receive food and water in transit. Do you?

Question 5. -
5. Lee Rhiannon – With lessoned profit margins and the increased price cost squeezes currently occurring within many industries across Australia. If pastoral properties profit margins lesson they will not employ people. Less people, less animal work carried out. Increased bull numbers and less cattle welfare will mean many properties will revert to the trap and truck method of old mustering techniques. Please explain to me the benefits of this form of animal welfare in comparison to current controlled methods of well managed herd?

Question 6 -
6. Lee Rhiannon – If LE is banned, assume the 500000 hd of cattle aimed to LE are sent within Australia. Let’s assume all these cattle are then sent to other processing points within Australia. This will mean a minimum of 20000 decks of cattle, approximately 3333 full road trains extra. Depending on where access in built up areas are allowed then there could be anything up and beyond of 6500 extra truck trips on our roads if they have to split loads. Considering the truck needs to travel to destination and return then there is 13000 extra road trips required, all long hauls. Considering the Stuart Highway is the only real access into the north or NT/WA do you propose to support the massive funding this road requires to handle that treatment. What do you plan to do to help the producers in high rainfall areas where roads have weight limits and special requirements?

Question 7 -
7. Lee Rhiannon – If our roads are going to require to carry 13000 extra trucks on a yearly basis predominately in the dry season are you prepared to support special laws to give animal transporters express access along these routes. Remember this is the time of year that the grey nomads and other tourists seem to like to travel too.

Question 8 -
8. Lee Rhiannon – If our roads are required to carry 13000 extra truck trips each year are you prepared to support the lessoning of road registrations and government charges to allow the transport operators to keep their trucks in prime condition. The costs of fuel and tyres, double up drivers all takes money, long hauls need more time for good animal welfare.

Question 9 -
9. Lee Rhiannon – Government has supported the Live trade establishment to which private investors have developed substantial infrastructure and time aimed at high standards of live export trade. Will you support the fair and necessary compensation and remuneration of these people who will realise massive loss of money due to stopping of LE?

Question 10 -
10. Lee Rhiannon -With increased transport of north Australian cattle to other areas of Australia for slaughter if Live export is stopped. Many may be trucked at a weight suitable to enter feedlots and then spend time enabling weight increases to relevant kill sizes. Feedlots require substantial land, infrastructure, water and environmental considerations to operate. They also require massive inputs of feedstuffs. Where do you propose to have more feedlots established to support long term numbers of cattle and are you prepared to protect agricultural land from urbanisation creep to support the crops and feeds needed for feedlot processes.

Question 11 -
11. Lee Rhiannon – At which point do you think it is suitable for the producer of an animal to be no longer responsible for it both legally and morally. If you believe this to be for the life of the animal do you intend to support forced contractual agreements on Australian producers of any form of livestock to the very death of that animal irrespective of how many times legally it may change hands? Do you intend to regulate a similar idea for all types of animal owners throughout Australia?

Question 12 -
12. Lee Rhiannon. What do you plan to do to support and increase the frozen meat trade from Australia? Assuming no Live export, do you intend to support free trade sanctions that continue to undermine Australian producers’ prices in horticultural industries such as oranges and apples? What markets do you see as replaceable to the live export trades? Will you be willing to support investment into these markets to improve electricity and refrigeration if that is what is required to ensure our meat can be sold to those areas?

Question 13 -

13. Lee Rhiannon – Currently the Australian Agricultural company is building an abattoir near Darwin, with an intended capacity to process 225000 head per year. A percentage of these cattle will be AAco owned. This abattoir isn’t intended as a replacement to Live export yet it will be the only processing facility in northern Australia, with a volume of one million head of cattle to draw from across North Australia. Do you intend to support both vocally and with money the needs of more processing facilities in Northern Australia to meet the needs of processing required to sustain a long term viable beef industry.

And thats it. Ironically, while I was doing this, Jo is in the process of posting another stack, so eventually I'll put them up here too. Plus I'll stick up the answers we get to all those excellent questions. That last line could possibly be the funniest thing I've ever written here.



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