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Cheap Third World Labor Fuels Australia’s Notorious Live Export Trade

July 19, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Harrowing footage of Australian cattle being slaughtered in Vietnam has shined a global spotlight on Australia’s notorious “live export” trade. The footage, released by Animals Australia, shows restrained cows being bludgeoned with sledgehammers as they frantically attempt to avoid the blows meant to smash their skulls. The footage has triggered a public discussion and debate about the rationale for exporting live animals instead refrigerated meat from animals slaughtered in Australia.

Live export companies claim that  animals must be exported live because refrigeration in the countries to which they are shipped is inadequate. According to advocates, however, that rationale is dubious. A Cambodian company called SLN Meat Supplies, which recently imported almost 3,000 Australian cattle, stated that it plans to store and eventually export the meat of those animals to China, Vietnam and Japan. According to SLN, refrigeration will be used in the process. SLN is one of many companies that imports live animals, slaughters them and then exports the refrigerated meat to other countries.

Live export companies claim that live exports are necessary due to lack of refrigeration in the importing companies despite those countries refrigerating the meat and exporting it.

Live export companies falsely claim that exporting animals while they are alive is  necessary due to lack of refrigeration in the importing companies.

Simon Whitehouse of Live Export – GlobalVoice4Animals has a different theory about why Australian companies export live animals instead of slaughtering them locally:  “large profits [made] through the exploitation of grossly underpaid, third world labor.”  Cheap third world labor fuels the live export trade in many ways.

Slaughterhouse workers in poor countries are paid much less than those in more wealthy countries. A Cambodian slaughterhouse worker, for instance, receives about 1/200 the salary of an Australian worker. Since the wholesale price of beef in poor countries is about the same as it is in wealthy countries, the lower wages lead to a greater profit margin for the companies that import live animals. In some cases, live export companies partially or fully own the importing companies, so slaughtering the animals where labor is cheaper increases their profit margins. When live export companies earn higher profits, they offer ranchers more money for their animals. Cheap third world labor therefore affects the live export trade at virtually every step in the supply chain. “Without that cheap labor source, there would be no live export trade” says Mr. Whitehouse.
Exported Australian cow being slaughtered.

Exported Australian cow being slaughtered.

 Each year, Australia ships millions of live sheep, cattle and goats to countries in the Middle East and Asia where they are slaughtered for meat. Footage taken during more than 30 investigations conducted by Animals Australia demonstrates that many of these animals endure “routine abuse” and “brutal slaughter” in countries that have few, if any, protections in place. In addition, millions of animals have died on the ships during the treacherous overseas journeys during which are intensively confined and deprived of their basic needs.
Live exports are notorious for animal cruelty.

Australia’s notorious live export industry

Your Turn

Please visit Animals Australia’s Ban Live Export initiative to learn more about live exports and find out how you can help.


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Atrocities Exposed in Secret Investigations Trigger Parliament Members To Condemn Live Exports

June 16, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

With an onslaught of videos exposing shocking abuses of Australian cattle, sheep and other animals shipped to foreign countries for slaughter, the campaign to ban live exports from Australia has reached a tipping point. And Members of Parliament (MPs) are finally speaking out:

“How many more exposés do we need before the government finally acts decisively to outlaw this vile trade?” – Andrew Wilkie, MP

“It seems there is no fate too cruel for Australian animals that would cause this government to pause.” – Melissa Parke, MP

“This abuse simply cannot continue to occur. My electorate has had enough. And so have I.” – Michelle Rowland, MP

The long-awaited criticism from elected officials comes on the heels of new undercover investigations in Vietnam and Israel, two of the 19 countries to which Australia ships over three million live animals for slaughter each year.

In May, Animals Australia documented workers in Vietnam using sledgehammers to kill Australian cattle. The footage is so “shocking” and “distressing” that the organization decided not to release it.

Vietnamese workers slaughter Australian cattle with sledgehammers

Vietnamese workers slaughter Australian cattle with sledgehammers

In spite of the live export industry’s own admission that they cannot track the animals once they arrive in Vietnam, the Australian government has continued to allow weekly shipments.

Just three weeks after exposing the atrocities in Vietnam, Animals Australia released footage of workers in Israel slitting the throats of Australian cattle while they were still conscious and then hanging them upside down. The footage, which also shows workers dragging cattle by their legs and tails, prompted Israeli authorities to shut down the slaughterhouse, the largest in Israel.

Advocates argue that ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System), a program introduced in 2011 to protect Australian animals shipped abroad for slaughter, does not – and cannot – work, as tracking millions of animals once they arrive in foreign countries is logistically impossible.

Live sheep exported from Australia

Live sheep exported from Australia

In fact, Australian authorities cannot even protect animals in the slaughterhouses that have their stamp of approval, as evidenced in the most recent undercover investigation in Israel.

Israel's largest slaughterhouse, which had the stamp of approval by Australian authorities, was shut down after Animals Australia released footage of cattle being tortured during the slaughter process.

Israel’s largest slaughterhouse, which had the stamp of approval by Australian authorities, was shut down after Animals Australia released footage of cattle being tortured

In spite of mounting evidence demonstrating the failure of ESCAS, Australia’s Agricultural Minister, Barnaby Joyce, continues to defend and even promote it, describing it as a “model” welfare program that other countries should emulate. But his remarks are beginning to wear thin with Members of Parliament, who have received an onslaught of calls from constituents in recent years.

“To the people who have taken the time to contact me about this, I want to say that your activism is really having an impact,” -Clare O’Neil, MP

“Constituents are contacting my office in astonishing numbers.” – Adam Bandt, MP

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Had Animals Australia not sent undercover investigators into Vietnam and Israel, the abuses would have never been exposed. Footage from these and 33 other investigations demonstrates that ESCAS cannot protect animals, even in countries that have legal protections in place for them.

Australian cow in Gaza (photo: Animals Australia)

Australian cow in Gaza (photo: Animals Australia)

In Australia’s live export trade, abuse is not limited just to the countries where the animals are shipped. During the overseas journeys, which can last up to several weeks, animals get sick and die in their cramped spaces on the ships. According to Animals Australia, millions of animals have died during transport.

Photo: Animals Australia

Live export ships can transport tens of thousands of animals in cramped spaces (photo: Animals Australia)

Live export of sheep from Australia to the Middle East and Asia

Australian sheep are unloaded from a transport ship in the Middle East

In recent years, the fight to ban Australia’s live export trade has gone global. On April 15th, animal rights activists in the United States staged a protest at the Australian consulate in Los Angeles. The organizer, Loretta Smalls, said it was “a show of solidarity with thousands of our Australian brothers and sisters who are fighting to ban the horrific practice.” In Israel, the group Against Live Transports has employed street theater to educate the public as part of its growing campaign to outlaw the importation of live animals from Australia.

Israeli activists as animals

Israeli activists use street theater to protest the importation of live animals from Australia

Your Turn

To find out how you can help end the live export trade, please visit Animals Australia.


Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Americans To Protest Australia’s “Horrific” Live Export Trade

March 28, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

For the first time ever, U.S. animal rights activists are staging a protest against Australia’s live export trade. The organizer, Loretta Smalls, says it’s “a show of solidarity with thousands of our Australian brothers and sisters who are fighting to ban the horrific practice.” The protest will take place at the Australian consulate in Los Angeles on April 15th.

U.S. Animal Rights Activists To Protest Australia's "horrific" Live Export Trade

U.S. animal rights activists to protest Australia’s “horrific” live export trade in Los Angeles on 4/15

Each year, Australia ships millions of live sheep, cattle and goats to countries in the Middle East and Asia where they are slaughtered for meat. Footage taken during more than 30 investigations conducted by Animals Australia demonstrates that many of the animals who are exported endure “routine abuse” and “brutal slaughter” in countries that have few, if any, protections in place for animals. In addition, millions of animals have died on the ships during the treacherous overseas journeys.

For the Australian activists, the U.S. protest can’t come soon enough. “We need all the international support that we can get,” said Sue Clarke, an activist in Brisbane, Australia. “In spite of growing public demand to end live exports, our government is working to expand them.” In fact, Australia is finalizing plans to ship an estimated one million cattle to China each year. If the $1 billion deal is signed, the number of cattle exported would double from its current levels.

live export cows

Cows being unloaded from a live transport ship

As the government works to increase the number of animals exported, it is also reducing the amount of oversight, which, according to Australian activists, is already wholly inadequate. Starting on April 1st, the Department of Agriculture will decrease by 30% the number of audits of unloading docks, feedlots, slaughterhouses and other live export facilities.

Australian cow in Gaza (photo: Animals Australia)

Australian cow in Gaza (photo: Animals Australia)

Protests against the live export trade across Australia attract hundreds of people, but the government is unmoved by the public backlash and the graphic videos that have triggered it. In fact, Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce stated in late January that a review of the government’s oversight program “demonstrates that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance.”

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Of all of the countries in Asia and the Middle East that receive live exports from Australia, only Israel has a community of local activists who are working to stop them. According to the Israeli group Against Live Transports, about 200,000 sheep and cattle are shipped each year from Australia to Israel. The entire trip from the feedlots in Australia to the slaughterhouses in Israel is treacherous for the animals, but the activists call particular attention to the one leg of the journey for which they have the most documentation – the unloading of the animals. On April 8th, dozens of Israeli activists are traveling to the port city of Eilat to protest the arrival of a transport ship from Australia.

Israeli activists protesting live animal exports

Animal rights activists with Against Live Transports use street theater to educate the public about live export cruelty (photo: Against Live Transports)

Israel_live_export_protest

Live export protest in Eilat, Israel on April 8th. Translation: Stop the Horror (photo: Against Live Transports)

The U.S. and Israel are not the only countries to protest Australia’s live export trade. Activists in the Czech Republic, Greece and Egypt have also demonstrated in solidarity with Australian activists — while activists in England battle their own country’s live animal exports.

live export protest in the Czech Republic

Activists with 269Life in the Czech Republic protest Australia’s live exports

Your Turn

If you live in or near Los Angeles, please participate in the protest against Australia on April 15th.

Please visit Stop Live Exports and Animals Australia’s Ban Live Export initiative to learn more about live exports and find out how you can help.


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“Live Bait” Scandal Triggers Public Debate About Proposed Ag-Gag Law

February 26, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Secretly recorded video of racing dogs ripping apart live animals, who were being used as bait, has triggered public debate in Australia about a proposed ag-gag law that would have compromised the investigation and possibly prevented the incriminating footage from being taken in the first place.

Greyhound trainers tie live animals to automatic lures that the dogs chase during training exercises.

Greyhound trainers attach live animals to fast-moving lures that the dogs chase while training

Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s notoriously anti-animal, anti-activist Minister of Agriculture, is using media coverage of the live bait scandal as a platform to push for a U.S.-style ag-gag law that would punish those who take the footage: “Why should people be allowed to trespass onto a farm? You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands. Everybody has in their own purview an ethical reason to break into some industry because of what they judge to be correct.” The proposed legislation would also require activists who do acquire footage to quickly turn it over to authorities, which would compromise their investigations.

Australia's Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is  advocating for anti-trespass laws to criminalize undercover investigations

Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is advocating for ag-gag laws to criminalize undercover investigations that expose animal cruelty and to protect those who commit the abuses

If comments posted online about the live bait exposé are any indication, Australians overwhelmingly disagree with Mr. Joyce:

“Only people like Barnaby could look at video of the most barbaric animal cruelty and seek to punish those who exposed it, not those who perpetrate it.”

“If the regulators don’t protect the animals then SOMEONE has too.”

“Baby pigs being ripped apart while tied to a lure doesn’t seem to upset Joyce, but the people who exposed it do?”

“For too long, the so called regulators have been in bed with cruel industries. So who is going to stop cruelty? The people who always have — the public.”

It was in mid-February that Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland shocked the world with the surveillance footage of greyhounds dogs, who are normally docile, being trained by the racing industry to tear apart live rabbits, possums and baby pigs at training facilities.

It isn’t just the dog racing business that Barnaby Joyce is working to protect. Horrific footage from dozens of undercover investigations of Australia’s multi-billion dollar live export industry has demonstrated that transporting millions of cows and sheep to the Middle East and Asia is inherently inhumane. It is this damning footage that Minister Joyce is most eager to suppress.

live-export-sheep copy

Each year, millions of live sheep and cattle are exported to the Middle East and Asia

Australia’s proposed ag-gag law would impose fines up to $10,000 and prison sentences up to 20 years, depending on the amount of economic damage. In the U.S., seven states have passed “ag-gag” bills into law since the 1990s.

Your Turn

Please visit Animals Australia to learn more about the organization’s extraordinary investigations that are blowing the lid off of some of the world’s cruelest animal industries.


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Activists Dispute Government Report Claiming Australian Animals Are Treated Humanely in Live Export Trade

January 27, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Each year, Australia loads millions of live sheep and cattle onto ships and exports them to countries in the Middle East and Asia that have few, if any, laws governing the humane treatment of animals. Because undercover investigations conducted over the years have consistently exposed atrocities during every leg of the journey, activists are working to eliminate live exports altogether.

In response to mounting anger among members of the public, the Australian government rolled out a set of “welfare” regulations in 2011 to protect exported animals – the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Program (ESCAS). Activists say that Australia simply cannot protect animals once they are unloaded from the ships, and they have ample documentation taken in destination countries to demonstrate that ESCAS does not work.

This week, the Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce stated that a review of ESCAS “demonstrates that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance.” Donny Moss of TheirTurn.net speaks to Australian activist Tanya Hardy about this claim, the reality and where activists go from here.

Your Turn

Please visit Animals Australia’s Ban Live Export initiative to learn more about live exports and find out how you can help.


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