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The Monster Minister

February 22, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

Don’t be fooled by his childish smile and cheerful name. Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Minister of Agriculture, is one of the most dangerous men on the planet.

Barnaby Joyce, Australia's Minister of Agriculture

Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Minister of Agriculture (photo: weeklytimesnow.com.au)

In recent years, Australian animal advocacy groups have released footage from dozens of undercover investigations showing thousands of animals being terrorized by industries regulated by Mr. Joyce. Instead of punishing the culprits, Mr. Joyce uses the news as a PR opportunity to portray Australia as a world leader in the humane treatment of animals. Instead of condemning the crimes, he denounces the advocates who document them. And instead of working to eliminate the abuses, he advocates for “ag gag” laws to prevent them from being exposed.

LIVE EXPORTS

Each year, Australia loads millions of live sheep and cattle onto ships and transports them to countries in the Middle East and Asia that have few, if any, laws governing the humane treatment of animals. Undercover investigations consistently expose atrocities during every leg of the journey. Thousands of animals have died from heat exhaustion and disease on the ships and have been butchered while still alive in their destination countries.

live exports Australia

Australian animals meet their fate in the Middle East (photos: Animals Australia)

In spite of abundant evidence demonstrating that live animals cannot be exported humanely, Joyce defends the trade and works to expand it. And he routinely uses Australia’s unenforceable and ineffective animal welfare regulations – the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Program (ESCAS) – to not only justify his promotion of the live export trade but also portray it as a model for the humane treatment of animals. In January, Joyce stated that a review of ESCAS “demonstrates that Australian livestock exported overseas are treated humanely in almost every instance” and that “only 12,958 animals (0.16%) had experienced a potentially adverse animal welfare outcome since 2011.”

Live sheep exported from Australia

Live sheep from Australia are stuffed into a trunk in Kuwait (photo: Animals Australia)

Adolph Hitler said, “make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.” This appears to be Joyce’s strategy to convince the world that the millions of animals who are abused and tortured in the live export trade are treated “humanely in almost every instance.”

Barnaby Joyce (photo: 2gb.com)

Barnaby Joyce (photo: 2gb.com)

LIVE ANIMAL BAIT

In mid-February, Animals Australia released footage of greyhounds ripping apart live animals who were being used as bait to train the dogs to run faster. The revelation that dog racers were using rabbits, possums and piglets as “live bait” and the footage itself were so disturbing that the dog racing industry was compelled to publicly condemn the practice and cancel its annual awards ceremony.

Greyhound in training chases live possum being used as bait (photo: AFP)

Greyhound in training chases live possum being used as bait (photo: AFP)

Instead of denouncing the illegal, pervasive and horrific use of live bait when the news broke, Barnaby Joyce, true to form, criticized the activists for using hidden cameras and reiterated the need for legislation that would outlaw their use. Time and again, Joyce has made his objective clear: fine and imprison those who dare to document crimes against animals while protecting those who commit them.


Filed under: Entertainment, Food, Opinion
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Farmers Say Activists With Cameras Spread Disease on Factory Farms

December 10, 2014 by Leave a Comment


News & Opinion

In an effort to pass harsher laws to keep cameras out of factory farms, agribusinesses in Eastern Australia are claiming that activists pose a threat to “biosecurity” because they can spread disease to their animals. The factory farmers are not only attempting to hide animal abuse from the public, but they are also shifting the blame for disease outbreaks away from overcrowding and intensive confinement on their farms. If the “biosecurity” measure is passed, activists who enter farms illegally could face up to three years in jail or a $1.1 million fine.

This is not the first attempt by Australian agribusiness to pass American-style “ag gag” laws. In 2012, after several undercover investigations cast a negative spotlight on Australia’s wool and pork industries, a Senator in South Australia introduced the Surveillance Devices bill, which would have criminalized the taking of photos and video of “a legally operating animal enterprise.” It would have also required activists to turn over their videos to authorities within 48 hours. The bill’s sponsor claimed the law would “strengthen genuine animal welfare protections,” as if cameras harm animals. The bill was voted down, re-introduced with changes in July 2014 and voted down again.

In 2013, Australian farmers killed almost 500,000 egg laying hens during an outbreak of avian flu. At the time, no one blamed the outbreak on a cell phone camera.

Agribusiness attempts to shift blame for disease outbreaks from overcrowded barns to activists with cameras

Agribusiness attempts to shift blame for disease outbreaks from overcrowded barns to activists with cameras

Intensive confinement and overcrowding on factory farms spread diseases. Hidden cameras spread the truth. Criminalizing them will make horrific conditions for animals on factory farms even worse, as agribusiness will have no incentive to minimize abuse.

Hidden cameras hold famers accountable (Photo: PETA)

Hidden cameras hold famers accountable (Photo: PETA)

Factory farmers in Australia and around the world confine, mutilate, abuse and slaughter billions of farm animals each year, but they and the government officials in their pockets would like the public to think that activists with cameras are the criminals. History will be the judge.

U.S. Animal rights groups are fighting "ag-gag" bills

U.S. animal rights groups are fighting “ag-gag” bills


Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Australia & China Inching Closer to Horrific Live Export Deal

November 24, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

For the past several years, Australia and China have been working on an agreement which, when signed, could lead to Australia shipping up to one million live cattle to China each year. The deal is being finalized at a time when local and international opposition to live exports has reached a fever pitch due to the extreme animal abuse exposed in undercover investigations.

TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell speaks to Tanya Hardy, a veteran activist in Australia, about the deal with China and the cruelty of live exports.

According to Animals Australia, “Most animals who are exported live for slaughter have their throats cut while fully conscious. Millions have died at sea. Some 30 investigations have revealed that in destination countries, many animals endure routine abuse and brutal slaughter in places where laws do not protect them from cruelty.”  Following is one of many examples of extreme suffering experienced by animals exported from Australia.

Australia’s live export controversy has not received much media attention in the U.S., but the impending $1 billion deal with China is so substantial that the New York Times wrote a story about it. At the end of the lengthy article, the Times mentions – and virtually dismisses – the humane issues, leading readers to believe that they have been adequately addressed:

“The leader of the exporters’ group, said that all animals exported from Australia were closely tracked and that there were strict regulations about their welfare before export, during shipping and even after they landed in a foreign country. The regulations were tightened after export bans were imposed after accusations of cruelty in some Indonesian slaughterhouses.”

Cattle being loaded onto ship

Cattle being loaded onto ship

Your Turn

Send a message to the Australian embassy in your country.

please visit Ban Live Export for more information about Australia’s grisly live export trade and to find other ways you can help.


Filed under: Food
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Australia To Double Number of Live Cattle Exported

November 9, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In defiance of growing public demand to end live exports due to animal cruelty, Australia plans to significantly expand the trade by shipping an estimated one million cattle to China each year. If the $1 billion deal is signed, the number of cattle exported to countries in Asia and the Middle East would double from its current levels.

live export cows

Andrew Wilkie, one of the few members of the Australian Parliament who publicly opposes live exports, described the new deal with China as a “dreadful development” and that the federal government is “a pack of sadists when it comes to animal welfare.”

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

The agreement with China comes just two weeks after Australian media aired footage of Australian cows and sheep being tortured in several countries where the group Animals Australia stationed undercover investigators. While the damning footage once again angered the Australian public, it did not have the effect of curbing the booming live export industry.

Live export supporters, including the Australian government, insist that the incidents documented in undercover videos are the exception. Opponents, on the other hand, say that abuses are routine and that Australia’s regulations fail to protect the animals in countries that have few, if any, animal protection laws. They also argue that the millions of sheep and cattle exported annually from Australia cannot be tracked to their final destinations within the countries to which they are shipped.

live-export-sheep

Unloaded from live export ship

Of all of the countries where Australia ships live animals, only one of them has citizens who are attempting to stop it — Israel. Over the past couple of years, Israeli activists have taken undercover footage which has aired on national television, and they have used street theater to educate the public about the cruelty both on the transport ships and within the country after the animals are unloaded.

Photo: ישראל נגד משלוחים חיים (Against Live Transports)

Photo: ישראל נגד משלוחים חיים (Against Live Transports)

Photo: Against Live Transports

Photo:  Against Live Transports

Your Turn

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

Visit Animals Australia to take action.

Tourist dollars are vital to Australia’s economy. Until live exports are terminated, boycott Australia.


Filed under: Food
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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.


Filed under: Food
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