Thursday, April 10, 2014
I usually steer clear of twitter battles with animal rights activists. Voicing your opinion at the wrong time on twitter can be like putting a drop of blood in a tank full of sharks. Last night however I couldn't help but have a go at the obvious amateur spouting off the usual myths on Animals Australia's twitter account.
The argument that producers will be better off without live export has been completely debunked time and again so I won't waste breath on it here.
After hitting them with several examples of how producers were in fact much worse off both during and after the ban I realized how wonderful the entire live export ban had played out for the foreign owned abattoirs in this country. Even Jenny Kelly thinks processors could afford to pay more for the cattle they are receiving.
Abattoirs have always done well in dry periods or in circumstances where there is an oversupply of stock. That is a natural rhythm of the meat industry. They often run at a loss when cattle prices are high and that shortfall has to be made up somewhere or we won't have anywhere to process our cattle.
That being said, the deliberate fleecing of farmers and the manipulation of the political landscape to facilitate that behavior is just plain wrong, which led me to my next question. How much money did the abattoirs and meat-workers union donate to Animals Australia's live export campaign?
The question must have hit a raw nerve as Animals Australia have yet to answer.
In response to the live export ban, Indonesia slashed import quotas to around 50% of previous levels for the next two years, cutting the live trade in half and creating an oversupply of cattle that enabled the abattoirs to get away with paying chickenfeed to farmers desperately trying to de-stock in the rapidly drying conditions.
Farm profitability was smashed. Many properties were repossessed and the rural suicide rate spiked alarmingly. The hopelessly restricted market, coupled with a sudden drought, created widespread devastation while the abattoir owners made massive profits.
Rumors and conspiracy theories about the meatworks and the meat-workers union colluding with Animals Australia and the WSPA have swirled through the industry since day one of the live export ban.
I do not believe these rumors do farmers or activists any credit.
In order to put these rumors to bed, Animals Australia should come clean about what donations they received from the abattoirs and the meat-workers union.
If a significant amount of money changed hands in order to facilitate the attempted assassination of the live export industry by a "charity" working as a puppet for powerful vested interests, the people of this nation, particularly the farmers who lost so much over the last few years have a right to know.
If they have nothing to hide then why are they still silent? Why does the list of donors to Animals Australia remain a secret?
For years now the people who dared to stand up for the live export industry have been attacked mercilessly for having a "vested interest" in this debate. They have been accused of putting profit before the welfare of the animals that supply their livelihoods and told at every turn their opinions do not count because they have "dollar signs clouding their vision".
So I say to Animals Australia, prove to us the millions of dollars spent attacking our farmers came from cake stalls and $35 annual memberships, prove to us the websites and billboards came from selling fluffy toys, prove to us you pay your wages with t-shirt sales.
In short, prove to us that you are not a puppet of vested interests.
Animals Australia have responded, see below.
I have asked for clarification (as "receives" would only imply the present/future tense) That they or any organization they have a financial relationship with has ever received funding from the meatworks or the meatworkers union.
This article from the meatworkers union admits there is an alliance between the meatworks and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
(Thank you to reader: Sheena)
Was this alliance backed up with money? Would the meatworks have anything meaningful to contribute except their considerable financial muscle?
In a radio interview I did with Glenys Oogjes on Howard Sattlers evening program in late 2011 she pointed out that that the RSPCA paid for some of Animals Australia's ads and that "sometimes we pay for theirs".
Could funding from the meatworks have flowed through the WSPA into the coffers of Animals Australia?
Animals Australia have so far neglected to answer my fresh questions or volunteered to surrender their lists of major donors for scrutiny.
Please offer proof you are not a puppet of vested interests.