Another Day, Another Live Export Scandal

Shocking footage has emerged of animals being mistreated, made to suffer in horrible, disgusting conditions, and dying by the hundreds as they lie bleeding in their own excrement. The government has promised a full investigation and the live export industry is working overtime to blame this on “freak weather” or “poor quality control” by “a rogue operator”.

Are we talking about 2018’s live export scandal, or 2017’s live export scandal? Or maybe it was the scandal that shocked the nation in 2016, or the one before that in 2015, or the one in 2014? The list seems endless.

Every year there’s another live export scandal, with the latest one occurring just last week after 60 Minutes aired horrifying footage of lambs and sheep being mistreated, killed, and thrown overboard with their throats slit.

Exporting cattle, exporting jobs

The AMIEU has been campaigning against live export for decades, because we know a simple truth that live export supporters are unwilling to admit: every animal sent offshore for processing means less work for Australians.

Less work for Australians means more businesses shutting down, more families losing their homes, and more regional communities suffering from unemployment, drug use, and everything else that follows. Internal AMIEU data shows that there are as many as 8,000 meatworkers across the country suffering from unemployment or underemployment.

Our simple fact sheet (PDF) shows clearly that live export hurts Australian meat workers, which hurts the Australian economy. Multiple studies (2009, 2012) have shown that processed and chilled exports would provide much greater value to the economy while employing a greater number of people.

Now a new study from 2018 confirms that live sheep exports out of Western Australia could be phased out with minimal or no impact on sheep farmers, and in fact create an additional 350 local jobs and return $18 million of value to the local economy.

The facts simply don’t support live export.

So why does nothing change?

The answer is simple: powerful lobby groups such as the Australian Live Export Council (ALEC) have deep connections within the halls of parliament, and they use their wealth and power to make sure that our politicians do nothing but repeat pro-live export talking points ad nauseum until an outraged public loses interest and moves on.

ALEC is led by former Labor politician Simon Crean, who betrayed everything he stood for, and betrayed the Australian working people in order to take up the well-paid top job for this parasitic industry lobby group. Crean’s influence allows him to convince Labor politicians like Joel Fitzgibbon to talk about “reform” rather than focusing on the real, urgent needs of struggling Australian meat workers who can’t find jobs because of live exporters.

On the other side of the political divide, Australia’s drunken uncle Barnaby Joyce is one of Australia’s staunchest live export supporters. Under his watch, more than $15 million has been poured into training overseas meat workers, improving “efficiency and competitiveness” in the live export supply chain, and the China Free Trade Agreement has been signed which will deliver a massive increase in the amount of cattle exported live, every year.

“We cannot allow the powerful live export lobby to continue misleading the Australian public,” said AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW Secretary Grant Courtney.

“The facts of the matter are clear: live export is a parasite industry which enriches big business and destroys Australian jobs, putting animals through hell in the process.”

“We must urgently act to reduce the amount of sheep and cattle sent to live export and instead replace them with locally processed and chilled exports, which would employ all of the same people as the live export chain and create jobs for even more Australians through value-adding.”

More information:

Grant Courtney
AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW
PH: (02) 4929 5496