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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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In Grueling Journey, 53,000 Live Animals Shipped from New Zealand to Mexico

June 26, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

A ship containing approximately 50,000 sheep and 3,000 cattle that departed from New Zealand on June 11th arrived in Mexico on June 26th after 16 days at sea. It is the single largest shipment of live animals ever exported from New Zealand.

Sheep are held in pens in New Zealand prior to being loaded onto transport ship (photo: John Bisset/Fairfax NZ)

Sheep are held in pens in New Zealand prior to being loaded onto transport ship (photo: John Bisset/Fairfax NZ)

53,000 live animals were shipped from New Zealand to Mexico on the NADA

53,000 live animals were shipped from New Zealand to Mexico on the NADA

Given the long duration of the overseas journey, animal rights activists in New Zealand and Australia have expressed grave concerns about the welfare of the animals, who can suffer from malnutrition, starvation, heatstroke, respiratory disease, blindness from seawater spray and stress from 16 days of intensive confinement. Unloading 50,000 sheep, who are reportedly pregnant, and 3,000 cattle is expected to take several more days.

live-export-sheep copy

Unloading sheep from a live transport ship

Once on the ground, the animals will be loaded onto trucks and/or trains and transported for an additional 10-15 hours, according to advocates. The temperature in Mazatlan, the port where the cattle and pregnant sheep are being unloaded, is approximately 90°F (32° C), reaching up to 120°F (49° C) with the heat index.

These trailers in Mazatlan, Mexico, are transferring the animals to their final destinations

These trailers in Mazatlan, Mexico, are transferring the animals to their final destinations

According to Animals Australia, which has conducted over 35 live export investigations, millions of animals have died during these voyages. In an interview with TV3 in New Zealand, Hans Kriek, the Executive Director of Save Animals From Exploitation in New Zealand said, “We understand that some animals have already died, but we have no idea about the numbers.”

In the live export industry, dead and dying animals are dumped overboard

In the live export industry, dead and dying animals are dumped overboard. This cow washed up on shore.  (photo: Against Live Transports)

Mr. Kriek and other activists have been communicating with the advocacy groups in Mexico about documenting the arrival of ship and unloading of the animals. “I imagine the locals may be able to smell the ship before they can see it,” said another advocate who contacted TheirTurn about the shipment.

The ship NADA has transported 5,300 live animals from NZ to Mexico (photo:

NADA transported 53,000 live animals from NZ to Mexico (photo: Mitchell Bransgove/Fairfax NZ)

The company exporting the animals, Livestock and Agricultural Products New Zealand, insists the 53,000 animals are treated humanely, noting that the ship is staffed with a Mexican veterinarian and three experienced stockmen. In an interview with a meat industry trade journal, a company spokesman said that deckhands clean the cattle manure once every three days. The sheep, on the other hand, live in their own feces for the entire journey.

Live cattle on a typical transport live

Live cattle on a typical transport live

The government says that the animals shipped to Mexico will be used for breeding. Activists, however, are skeptical, as animals were reported to have been killed upon arrival during the last live export shipment to Mexico in 2007, when the government gave the same assurance.

Your Turn

Please join the campaign to ban live exports from New Zealand and Australia.


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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.


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Class Action Lawsuit Shines Spotlight on Australia’s Live Export Atrocities

November 2, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

The animals aren’t filing a class action lawsuit against the Australia government, even though they are the real victims. It is the cattle farmers who are doing it.

The Australian government is the live export industry’s most powerful ally, but cattle farmers are suing them anyway in an attempt to recoup the money they lost after a temporary live export ban to Indonesia in 2011. At that time, activists exposed abuses at Indonesian slaughterhouses that were so horrific that public pressure forced the government to take swift action.

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

Now, the farmers want the government to pay them back for their financial losses, even if it means shining yet another spotlight on the torture inflicted on their animals overseas. The class action was filed just days after Australian media stunned the country with new undercover footage of similar abuses in three Middle Eastern countries.

live export to Kuwait

The new footage, taken by Animals Australia, combined with the cattle farmers’ lawsuit have amplified the battle over live exports, and both sides are digging in their heels. After the damning footage was released, Bill Shorten, a member of Parliament and one the country’s most prominent live export supporters, said “We are seeing that it is possible for increased animal welfare to coincide with increasing export volumes. We see an industry that enjoys more public confidence because we have the best animal welfare system in the world.”

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

The ruling Labor party is also a staunch advocate and justifies live exports on the grounds that new regulations -, The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) – protect the animals by tracing them. Activists, however, say that the regulations are window dressing, as tracing millions of Australian animals from the docks where they are unloaded to their final destinations in the Middle East and Asia is impossible.

On October 30th, one of the few members of Parliament who opposes live exports said that the government protections are an “illusion.”

As the industry and government continue to defend, promote and grow live exports, protests over the past several years have reached a fever pitch.

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Sydney, 2011 (photo: James Morgan)

live export protest

Parliament building in Melbourne, 2013

Because the live export industry is protected at the highest levels of government by both major political parties, ending it is an uphill battle that will only be won when the Australian Labor Party calls for a ban. One Australian activist, who asked to remain anonymous, called for a tourist boycott: “The only thing that will get the attention of the power brokers here is money. A boycott by tourists could make a difference.”

Australia is the world’s largest exporters of live animals, sending hundreds of thousands of cattle and millions of sheep to markets in Asia and the Middle East each year.

Your Turn

Visit Animals Australia to take action.

Send an instant message to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.


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Australian News Airs Damning Undercover Footage of Live Exports

October 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In a ground-breaking story, a major TV news program in Australia aired undercover footage of the country’s cows and sheep being tortured in the Middle East. The footage, taken by Animals Australia, shows the animals, who were shipped to Gaza, Kuwait and Jordan, being stabbed to death in the streets, in spite of Australian regulations requiring animals to be killed in approved slaughterhouses.

In the following clip, TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell talks to TheirTurn’s Donny Moss in the first of many reports about Australia’s live exports.

Animal welfare groups in Australia have, for years, advocated for an outright ban on the export of live animals given the treacherous journey and virtual absence of anti-cruelty laws in the destination countries. While their practical solution – shipping frozen meat instead of live bodies – is appalling to animal rights activists, it would at least eliminate the most violent abuses committed at sea and in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

At least one country that receives live animals from Australia is fighting back. In Israel, activists are using provocative street theater to expose the horrors of live transports in an attempt to shut them down. Last year, an Israeli TV station aired damning footage taken by activists of sheep being violently unloaded from a transport ship and of of the abuses they endured prior to slaughter.

Photo: Against Live Transports

Photo: Against Live Transports

News & Opinion

After reading the story above, Simon Whitehouse, an animal protection advocate from Australia, sent us the following additional information about Australia’s live export trade:

“Due to the help of a sympathetic right wing government, the trade is experiencing rapid growth. The Australian Labor Party, which is the opposition to our current government, has a policy which also is pro live export. In the Australian parliament, the only existing party with a policy to end the trade is the Australian Greens, and their representation level is small. Politically, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

“The trade is not just with the Middle East, it includes many South East Asian countries, most notably Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. It also extends to such places as Russia and Mauritius. Almost all of these countries have a very poor animal welfare background. The industry is now pushing very hard to start sending animals for slaughter to Cambodia and China.”

Your Turn

While the footage from the Middle East could put increased pressure on Australia’s Ministry of Agriculture to curb the worst abuses, the Australian activists need our help. Please send an instant message to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

 


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