Thursday, June 2, 2011

greed, profit and vested interests

Why does the Australian cattle industry and the Australian government continue to export or allow the export of live cattle to Indonesia, knowing full well that they could be treated in the manner that was aired on 4 Corners on ABC Australian television Monday 31 May? The answer is of course because of greed, profit and vested interests.

What would happen if the industry straight away voluntarily ceased the trade and sought other opportunities? And make no mistake, there would be plenty of other opportunities. For a period of time, profits would lower. Can't have that!

What would happen if trade ceased until such time as it took to fund and build abattoirs in Indonesia to accommodate true Halal slaughter practices. And for those abattoirs when operable to be staffed by Indonesians and managed or monitored by Australians to ensure that cattle are treated humanely. A lot of money would have to be invested, and again, profits would be lowered.

One defence of the way in which we saw cattle treated and slaughtered on the program, is the requirement for cattle to be slaughtered in a certain way so that it is Halal (permissible). Googling 'laws if Islam concerning food' will provide information about what should or should not be done to make the slaughter 'Halal'. A quick read of this and you will arrive at the conclusion that the meat produced by the methods employed on the 4 Corners programme in Indonesia for ritually killing cattle is definitely not Halal. A sharp knife must be used with preferably one cut only, and the knife should not be lifted. The animal should not be distressed, the animal must not be hit about the head, the animal preferably must not see blood or see other animals being slaughtered. The animal must be 'gently' laid down and restrained. And so on.

Another defence of that kind of treatment and slaughter cattle is that it's a cultural thing, that life, including human life, is cheap in that part of the world. That may well be so. If it is, then all the more reason to cease sending cattle there.

Another argument goes that we here in Australia are cruel to animals so why look overseas when there are so many problems to be solved here first. Who knows what goes on in our abattoirs? What about the outback sport of savaging wild boar to death using dogs. What about the caged hens, de-beaking, pig housing, dairy cow tail docking, poddy calves, racing greyhounds and their fate. All these are certainly worthwhile causes. But just because any one of them is still being practiced is no reason to turn a blind eye to the torture and inhumane slaughter of cattle in Indonesia.

Yet another argument is that we humans are inherently cruel to other humans and to animals. It's a basic instinct. I don't buy that. A sane human being can learn, especially with the weight of public opinion and the law, to change their way of thinking. Englishmen used to believe that it was OK to use the punishment of drawing and quartering or impalement for example. Most cultures know better now.

Some say that the 4 Corners coverage was typically exaggerated, hysterical and biased. Maybe so, but say for example that it was only the few abattoirs that were shown in the program that were using inhumane methods and that all the other abattoirs were free from any inhumane practices, I say that as long as Australia allows any exported live beasts to be frightened, flogged, tortured, and slaughtered in an agony of pain, as evidenced by the 4 Corners programme, it demeans and shames us all.

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