Livestock Export Review

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Last updated: 12 Sep 2011

Michael De Long

To whom it may concern.

Having read some of the submissions already made I have been appalled at the outright lies and distortions of reality made by those activists who seek to destroy a highly ethical and just trade. While their lack of understanding may explain such attacks, it does not excuse them; any inquiry must be conducted by addressing facts rather than radical rhetoric.

With regard to points a) and b) in the terms of reference, AQIS regulations are very stringent, only the best animals are exported. Any animal with a slight imperfection (cloudy eye, insect bite etc) will not be exported. Animals must be in a strong, forward condition. This is tightly policed at every point of the supply chain - on station, in the export depot and at loading.

With regard to point d) cattle from northern Australia are brilliantly suited to the live export market. With a bos indicus base that is not suitable for southern markets, northern cattle are hardy and perform exceptionally well in the feed lots in Indonesia, the rest of South East Asia and the Middle East. Australian companies such as Wellards have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on state of art ships. Cattle gain weight while being transported overseas, this clearly makes a lie of the“ships of misery” line.

Having read so many lies condemning the trade, it is important to make several points. While these may be outside the points of reference they are vital to any conclusions to this inquiry. Firstly, prioritising animal welfare, while

being the fundamental concern of Australian beef producers, is a lower priority to the developing world, falling behind the need to feed their families. By being active in these markets Australian exporters, MLA and Livecorp have radically improved welfare conditions in these places. This is a fact; live export has made amazing advances to the welfare of cattle in both Australia and destination markets. By showing people the benefits of improving the welfare of cattle, we have improved the treatment of local stock as well.

This is a point continually overlooked by animal liberation activists; for a beef producer, all animals, regardless of where in the world they are, should be treated humanely. If Australian cattle are not part of the world trade, the continual improvement of animal welfare will no longej be a part the world trade. For every highly monitored Australian animal removed from the world supply there will be another animal sourced to take its place; unregulated, transported further, grown unsustainably on slash and burn rain forest production systems with absolutely no animal welfare concerns. This may make an Australian vegan happy but it is a sickening outcome for any one who actually cares about animals (Australian or otherwise, a cow is still a cow).

A final point that needs to be made is one of geography; northern Australia has more in common with the countries that import our cattle than it does with southern Australia in terms of environment and climate. Activists from the south should learn the facts of our trade before attacking it. We do not have access to domestic processing, the nearest plants lie thousands and thousands of kilometres away (and they don’t want our type of cattle any way). Our markets do not want large amounts of boxed beef any way, they import live cattle to be value added in their own countries. Many poor Indonesians rely on working in the supply chain to feed their families. We are proud to help feed the developing world and live export is the vital tool required to help northern Australian families fulfil this just outcome.

Australia is such a wealthy nation that I doubt anyone .... knows what it is like to be truly poor. We have not had to worry about issues like food security for generations, but these are very real, very pressing problems in places like Indonesia. If we want to make lasting and genuine improvements, to both human and animal welfare, we need to take the rest of the world with us.

Michael De Long