Animals Australia, the group that gathered the footage screened by 60 Minutes last weekend, has released more footage and information about similar levels of cruelty inflicted on Australian animals in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. All of these countries are major importers of Australian sheep and cattle. They visited abattoirs, market places and feedlots in each of the countries.
As someone who is rather cynical about how much things really change follwing the government and industry assurances that accompany each new scandal, this quote from investigator Lyn White was particularly telling:
“In Kuwait we re-visited the municipal abattoir where in 2003 we documented terrible handling and slaughter of Australian sheep. In March 2004, the day after this abattoir was publicly exposed on national television, Meat and Livestock Australia announced a 4-day animal handling workshop in Kuwait. Two years later, the footage taken tells the story – nothing had changed. Sheep were being subjected to brutal handling right up until their deaths.”
Having done a bit of checking in the last day or so, I have made over 10 speeches in the Senate raising concerns with the live export trade, as well as used Question Time 3 times to seek a response direct from a Minister. (My most recent speech – on Monday night – can be read here, and my question from yesterday can be read here).
It really does give me a strong sense of deja vu, as it tends to all follow a predictable pattern: –
Some graphic footage or information is shown in the media, which leads to public outrage, which leads to government expressions of concern and support for animal welfare, followed by an investigation or inquiry, followed by announcements of changes or additional actions, accompanied by assurances that all is now fine and it would all be a lot worse if we left this trade to other countries. This dampens things down until the next story comes out showing that not much has changed at all, and then the whole cycle repeats itself. Throughout all this the industry keeps repeating mantras like “their religious practices mean it has to be slaughtered over there” or “they don’t have the refrigeration to take frozen meat”, despite these being shown long ago to have about a 5% element of truth to them.
Perhaps the release of this extra footage by Animals Australia showing the problems are not confined to one rogue abbatoir might finally provide a tipping point on this issue.