Thursday 14 Oct 2021 | 22:19 | SYDNEY
Thursday 14 Oct 2021 | 22:19 | SYDNEY

The problem of animal exports


Sam Roggeveen


6 June 2011 16:27

I'm sympathetic to Peter McCawley's argument about the harmful trade effects of banning Australian live cattle exports to Indonesia (although as far as I'm aware, the Government has decided only to suspend exports to certain abattoirs; a complete ban is still under discussion).

Still, this is not entirely a trade argument; it's about animal cruelty, an issue Peter does not address in his piece. Thanks to Four Corners, we now know what goes on in these abattoirs. Is it responsible or right to just continue our live animal exports regardless? Surely something needs to be done in light of this new information.

Granted, Australians are terrible hypocrites about animal welfare. We are holier than thou when it comes to whaling, yet some pretty horrible things go on in Australian factory farms, stuff we turn a blind eye to as we tuck into our steak or breakfast bacon. And we don't like to be reminded that the pigs we raise under deplorable conditions are more intelligent than the dogs and cats we pamper at home. (Disclosure: I am not a vegetarian.)

But acting against animal cruelty selectively is better than not doing it at all. Peter is right to point out the downsides of export bans, but that only makes the search for alternative action more urgent. After all, given the growth of meat consumption in the world, the debate over the economic, environmental and ethical costs of its production is only going to grow.

Photo by Flickr user sektordua.