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Live Exports – Another 36 408 animals dead on ships yet the trade goes on

Live Exports – Another 36 408 animals dead on ships yet the trade goes on
by Jenny Hume

It is commonly assumed that the live export trade in sheep and cattle to the Middle East is necessary and economically vital. Necessary because Islamic (halal) slaughter demands it, and vital because of the export income it brings to Australia. Although it is certainly in the immediate interests of those involved in the live export trade, none of the rest is true as I think this article will show.

For those interested my two earlier pieces on the live animal export trade give a background to the history and issues of the trade – Live animal exports in heavy seas and Live animal exports – defending the indefensible. 

With another 36,408 animals dead on their ships last year, the powerful vested interests that run this trade will even go to Court to challenge new regulations designed to try and improve conditions for the sheep on board.

A coalition of importing and exporting companies have just taken the Federal Government to court after AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) ordered in May this year that 10-15% extra space be given to sheep on open two tier deck ships to lessen the impact of heat stress, crowding and so on. Heat stress has been a major cause of deaths in sheep and cattle on ships.

The companies claim that this regulation will lose them millions of dollars in that they will have to ship less sheep on each voyage as a result. Comfort of the sheep is clearly not their primary concern. So they want the ruling overturned in Court. The dispute is about to go to mediation. Will the Rudd Government bow to the pressure? Probably.

Kevin Rudd has already bowed to pressure to re-open the live cattle trade to Egypt after John Howard suspended it on grounds of the cruelty, following exposure by Animals Australia  in its footage in the Bassatin meatworks where hundreds of thousands of our cattle had been shipped and slaughtered for many years. The industry would have known about Bassatin, but it was not the industry that told us what was going on there. Nor did the government. We had to rely on concerned members of the public both here and in Egypt to reveal the full horror of that place.

Then in 2007 the WA Labor Government intervened to effectively prevent a live export company from being convicted of cruelty after the court case against it was proven. This was the case that Animals Australia initiated over the deaths of 1,000 sheep on one of that company’s ships, the Al Kuwait.

It is a fact, and an accepted fact by industry and the government, that for every 100,000 sheep loaded on a ship an average of 1,000 will likely be dead on board before they arrive, losses that apparently the companies are prepared to wear. For them it seems it is better to carry the loss of a thousand dead sheep, but not the loss of shipping less sheep in order to give the animals more comfort and try and ensure fewer of them die.

In the period 2000-2007 almost 400,000 animals, mostly sheep and cattle, died on the voyage to various countries, the majority destined for the Middle East (ME). Hundreds of thousands more died in years prior to the year 2000. They died for several main reasons: heat stress and exhaustion, inanition (a euphemism for failure to eat during the two week journey), injury on slippery decks, disease outbreak, and/or disaster at sea. Around 200,000 were burnt to death on ships abandoned at sea when they caught fire.

Storms at sea create untold horror for the animals as the stockman's report on the Kalymnian Express graphically described when a third of its cargo of 900 cattle died or had to be put down due to injury. It was clearly a scene from hell. [Ed: Interested readers should go to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's website and search for Kalymnian Express, as the link to the relevant attachment is very long and does dreadful things to the line length of this article.]

Opposing the industry are the animal welfare organizations. In the forefront of the fight is Animals Australia (AA), a federation of some forty animal societies formed some thirty years ago through the efforts of Animal Liberation founder Christine Townend and philosopher Professor Peter Singer. Concerned not only about the suffering on the voyages, AA carried out five investigations in seven ME countries over five years to highlight the terrible plight of the animals after they arrive in the ME where there are no animal protection laws. The footages, if you can stomach them, can be found on its website.

So why has the trade not been phased out as recommended over 25 years ago following a government inquiry into the industry chaired by the late Labor Senator George Georges?

Why do successive governments allow this trade to continue unabated?

Industry arguments in favour of the live trade

The Australian Government and the live export companies argue that the trade is of vital economic importance to this country; that the importing countries require animals to be killed in accordance with Islamic law; that lack of refrigeration and a desire for fresh killed meat drives demand for live animals in the importing countries; and that if Australia did not provide the live animals other countries would – this latter an old argument in favour of just about anything obnoxious, including the slave trade.

These arguments have become increasingly weak. The chilled meat trade far outstrips the live trade to the ME in value, and is growing every year.

When Australia suspended trade to certain countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, and more recently Egypt following the Animals Australia revelations of cruelty there, imported chilled meat soon filled the gap.

Saudi Arabia has considerable notoriety when it comes to the live sheep trade with frequent suspensions. Most will recall the Cormo Express affair that led to 5,000 or more of its cargo dying after the Saudis rejected it on arrival. The ship plied the ME for 8 weeks as its cargo died en masse and the Australian government searched in vain for a country that would take the sheep. In the end the animals were given to Eritrea, and the Australian taxpayers paid out $3 million in costs and for fodder to help feed them there.

But the Saudis are happy anyway to take chilled meat. There was a 67% increase in mutton exports to Saudi Arabia in the 12 months to January 2007. MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia) has also reported a record of 2,909 tonnes of Australian mutton shipped to Saudi Arabia in January 2007, the largest single month in almost 4 years due to strong demand for the Hajj festival. Saudi Arabia is the primary ME destination for Australian mutton, importing 24,301 tonnes in 2006.

MLA has also just reported an increase in the last fiscal year of 18% in the meat trade to the ME. Development in the ME countries has seen supermarket style outlets set up along similar lines in the West handling this rapidly growing chilled meat trade.

So any argument that the ME countries only want and can only handle live animals is simply not true.

The Halal Issue

This is a total furphy. There are 40 Halal accredited meat works in Australia to meet the halal accredited meat trade. Chilled meat trade to the ME far outweighs the live trade as figures below will show. The animals simply do not have to be shipped live. In Australia, halal-killed animals are stunned (rendered unconscious) prior to slaughter but not in the ME. It does not take much imagination to see the scene where a grown bullock has its throat cut while fully conscious, an illegal practice in Australia under humane slaughter rules. Halal accreditation is administered under the Australian Government Supervised Muslim Slaughter Programme.

What is halal slaughter? Are animals halal-slaughtered in the Middle East?

Key requirements of halal killing, according to the Koran and Islamic leaders, include:

  • not killing animals in the presence of other animals
  • the animals are not to be bound
  • the slaughterman makes a dedication of the animal to Allah
  • the animal being slaughtered must face Mecca
  • the animal should be killed with a single cut to the throat with a long sharp blade, and
  • the animal must not suffer prior to slaughter.

Investigations by AA in the Middle East found that the halal requirements (as listed above) are routinely ignored in each of Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

Volume of halal accredited sheep meat to the ME

Australia’s trade in chilled and frozen halal accredited sheep meat to the Middle East is increasing significantly each year. For example, mutton exports reached 52,175 tonnes for the 2006/2007 fiscal year, a 42% increase on the previous year, and lamb exports to the Middle East topped 20,000 tonnes for the first time, a 24% increase on the previous year (source: MLA).

Together this level of sheep meat export is equivalent to 3.4 million live sheep (based on a “live sheep equivalent” of 21kg/carcase) so 3.4 million sheep were spared the trauma of those ships and the cruel handing and slaughter practices on arrival.

So what is the live trade worth in comparison to the meat trade?

The ABS figures for 2004-5 alone tell their own story.

The combined export value of meat exports (lamb, mutton and beef) was $ 6 billion.

The combined value of live sheep and cattle exports was a tenth of that: $ 0.674 billion.


Live export of cattle: $464 million (FOB value*) (623,579 live cattle)

Beef exports: $4.9 billion (947,866 tonnes)


Live export of Sheep: $210 million (FOB* value) (3,236,415 live sheep)

Lamb meat exports $701 million (123,060 tonnes)

Mutton meat exports $418 million (136,718 tonnes)

Total value of chilled meat exports: $1.119 billion

*Free On Board – the value of the animals before loading in Australia

The Economics of the Live Trade Vs Meat Trade – Exports to Egypt

The value of chilled/frozen sheep meat to Egypt in the 11 month period from Jan-Nov 2006 was $3.5 million.

The value of live sheep exported to Egypt during 2006 was approx. $2.8 million.

The value of chilled/frozen beef to Egypt in the 11 month period Jan-Nov 2006 was $100 million.

The value of live cattle FOB in 2005 (none in 2006 due to suspension of trade) was $3.5-7 million (variable reports).

This demonstrates that there is no barrier to Egypt accepting chilled meat in lieu of live animals. When the Howard government could no longer ignore the Animals Australia footage taken in Egypt the trade in live cattle was suspended in 2006

So why has the Rudd Government decided to recommence the shipment of live cattle into Egypt knowing the stress and suffering it entails for the animals concerned?

The Saudis are quite happy to take the meat when Australia suspends the live trade to that country. So why does Kevin Rudd not permanently suspend the live trade to that country?

To these questions the Rudd government, like those before it, simply has no valid response.

How does the live export trade compare economically with killing the same animals in Australia?

The S G Heilbron Pty Ltd Report (commissioned by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Limited, April 2000) entitled Impact of the Live Animal Export Sector on the Australian Meat Processing Industry included the following key points:

  • The live export trade could be costing Australia around $1.5 billion in lost GDP, around $270 million in household income, and around 10,500 lost jobs.
  • The primary factor driving the profitability of the live export trade is market distortions in favor of live animals. If it were not for these factors, the rising demand for meat in importing countries would have been met by exports of chilled and frozen meat.
  • The Australian Meat Industry Employee Union (AMIEU) opposes the live export trade, and estimates the live export industry has cost 12,000 meat worker’s jobs and continues to undermine the sustainability of the abattoir industry.

Where to now?

This vile trade has no justification whatsoever, other than to fill the coffers of the few who financially benefit from it, many of them some of Australia’s wealthiest. We will continue to fight against it for as long as it takes. Animals Australia has now joined with RSPCA Australia and two international organizations, The World Society for Protection of Animals and Compassion in World Farming to form a new coalition Handle With Care to expose the cruel nature of this trade to the world. That the trade is cruel has now been proven in Court with the ruling in the WA court against a live export company.

As with the successful international campaigns against mulesing where boycotts of Australian wool overseas soon brought results, this trade may have to be similarly challenged.

Some posters on Webdiary seem to be of the view that those who concern themselves with this obnoxious trade care more about animal suffering than that of their fellow human beings, implying that they should divert their energies and their resources to what they see as more worthy causes. With that I could never agree.

As Ghandi once said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." One only has to visit some of those countries with a poor human rights record and then look at how they treat their animals to know the truth of that. But are we any better when for profit we ship millions of animals to those countries in the way we do while being fully aware of cruelty to animals in those countries? I say no, we are not.

Anyone interested in helping in the fight against it can go to: Animals Australia or to the new coalition website of Handle With Care.

Warning: You may find the images and the videos on the sites very disturbing.


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About goats destined for Malaysia

As this update from Animal Liberation (ACT) shows, the cruelty to animals destined for live export begins well before they even leave the country. Long distance transport on land often precedes loading the animals onto the ships for the arduous journey. Transporting and assembling the animals has seen many thousands of them die of exposure and other causes over the years before they even leave the country. Then they have the stress of the voyage, often followed by long overland trips in the importing countries, rough handling, and sub standard slaughtering practices in the importing countries. Thousands of animals have died of heat stress in feedlots in the ME.

From start to finish this trade is appallingly inhumane. Here is the AL update on the goats for those interested:

A Queensland truckie has faced court over starving 1500 goats of food and water during a 65-hour trip to the Northern Territory.

Keith Simpson, and his company Keith Simpson Transport, have pleaded not guilty to 96 animal cruelty charges involving more than 1400 goats the company trucked 3000km from near Bourke, NSW, to Acacia, on Darwin's outskirts.

Twelve goats were dead on the truck when it arrived in Darwin on July 27 last year after a 65-hour trip, the Darwin Magistrates Court heard. And - despite veterinary treatment - a further 318 died or were euthanased as they continued to suffer from the stressful trip through to November.

The Northern Territory News was told that if the case against Mr Simpson was proved, it would be the biggest animal welfare conviction in the Territory's history.

Mr Simpson's lawyer David Francis said the truckie was only a middle operator in an export chain "where a number of linkages" had "fallen down in their duty".

But Brisbane-based exporter, Adam Armstrong, who hired Mr Simpson and was going to on-sell the goats for export to Malaysia, said the truckie had agreed to a transport plan that included two drivers - or one driver and a 12-hour water, food and rest stop en route to the Territory.

Mr Armstrong said Mr Simpson went against this and "the goats went straight through" with one driver, who took rest stops, suffered a flat tyre, and had a minor accident on a bridge along the way.

Darwin mango farmer, David Joyce, who agisted the goats, said he was "not happy" to see dead goats on the truck when it arrived.

He said the sick goats - which were "staggering" - reminded him of the "bad old days" when animal welfare standards were not enforced.

He said the accepted time limit for transporting goats without food or water was 38 hours.

The hearing continues.

Animal husbandry practices - mulesing policy

As the live export issue is now winding down on this thread I insert a link here for those interested in the policy of Animals Australia in regard to the cruel practice of mulesing of sheep in this country. AA is of course not the only organization opposed to this practice but it does represent the views of around 40 animal welfare member groups, including Animal Liberation.

While recognising the problems farmers face with flystrike in certain breeds of sheep, in large flocks and in times of high humidity and heat, AA and its member groups are nonetheless opposed to this practice. Much work has been put in over the years in an effort to get the practice banned.

As the founder of Animal Liberation ACT in 1979 I formulated the policy of the organization on a wide range of animal welfare issues, including mulesing. The policy of opposition to mulesing has not changed since.

The campaign by the US animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been active in publicising this issue over seas and obtaining boycotts by major retailers of wool from mulesed sheep. Progress has been made in developing alternatives with a view to the practice being phased out over the next two years - not soon enough for us, but it is the best we have been able to manage. In addition to the mulesing of sheep there are many other animal husbandry practices to which we are opposed on the similar grounds, such as dehorning of cattle without anaesthetic, teeth grinding in sheep and so on.

This link will give further information on mulesing to anyone genuinely interested in that matter. It will also show photos of the practice for those who have not seen what is involved.

Oh ye holiers than thou…

…who wouldn't squash a cockroach or a snail. I suppose when you get sick you refuse to take an antibiotic, too, do you, in case you might harm a few million innocent microbes? Please, wake up to yourselves.

And when the next mouse plague hits the Central West, we'll just let it take its course, shall we?

Ms Hume, if you did manage to tell me something I didn't know, it was that some elements of the animal rights movement are more interested in pointing their fingers at their enemy Islam than they are in the welfare of animals. Charity starts at home. Try criticising the exporters — the guilt begins with them. And I notice your continued deafening silence on the barbaric practice of mulesing. Don't want to show us a few photos of that, do you?

The RSPCA in Australia was long ago infiltrated and taken over by the livestock owner fraternity, and diverted from its true purpose. I hope those organisations which grew in its place to counteract that dishonesty are not going the same way.

The art of churlishness

Bill Avent, my policy in regard to you remains unchanged and will do so until you wake up to the fact that your constant churlishness, sarcasm, lack of courtesy and civility is reflective to me of a desire on your part not to engage in serious discussion of the issues pertaining to this thread, but to be adversarial just for the sake of it.

Your obvious ignorance of the facts and your inability to offer anything constructive on the subject of live exports suggests to me a lack of genuine interest in the subject anyway.

Further, if you were genuinely interested in what the policy of Animals Australia and Animal Liberation was on the issue of mulesing then you would have taken the trouble to find out long before this, instead of now trying to divert the discussion off the subject of his thread.

And if you had read this thread as you claim, and bothered to read the earlier threads, you would know that it was Animals Australia that had a live exporter in court, over the head of the RSPCA. We are way ahead of you on that one.

Don't you worry about that?

Jenny Hume, firstly, please be aware that I thought your policy was to ignore all comments from me; but in light of the fact that you keep responding to them, including when I am addressing someone else, it must be some other policy, or no policy at all.

You refer to my "ignorance of the facts".  Perhaps you are not reading very well. My recent reference to the RSPCA expresses my hope that people of your ilk are not preparing to undermine the aims and intentions of animal welfare organisations, as happened to the once highly respected RSPCA. I repeat, it occurs to me that you are more interested in seizing an opportunity to denigrate the Islamic world than you are in the welfare of animals, let alone, as Marilyn has pointed out, that of people.

I know what the policy of Animals Australia and Animal Liberation is, in regard to mulesing. What I don't know is yours.

Of sheep and ships

I have mixed emotions with this one, as the port and the meatworks were the two main sources of income in my home town of Portland for decades. As the live animal trade grew, the meatworks dwindled. I recall that at one stage a special area was set up for slaughtering sheep as they faced Mecca, but without knowing anything about Halal slaughtering I guess this wasn't enough.

At any rate, the meatworks is gone and the trucks trundle the sheep along the ring-road and down to the port, and a community has lost another form of livelihood.

My grandfather was the wharf foreman until the early seventies, part of his job being to daily pick, from those assembled, the men who would be able to feed their families that night. I could take a guess what he'd be saying about all this.

I must admit to laughing when, a couple of years ago, that bloke put the pork in the feedtroughs and filmed the animals eating it. Can't remember his sentence, though.

The pork in the feedtrough

Richard, the pork in the feedtrough incident is still going on and it seems the guy might be in a spot of bother.

Reminds me of my very first animal activist action (35 years ago) when we got stuck into the council hay stack at the local abattoir in 1972 and used the council hay to feed all the sheep and cattle (many of the latter dying) that had been left for four days without feed over Christmas in that year. The council threatened to sue me because of the losses the then council owned meatworks incurred as they could not work the next day due to the animals having full stomachs.

I told them go ahead and sue but I wouldn't be paying any fines, instead I said I would go to gaol. It was front page news with pictures of dead and dying cattle in their holding paddocks. They backed down. The last thing they wanted was more attention on the situation which had been given world wide coverage. An international group I had never heard of came forward and offered to pay my legal fees at time.

I must write to this guy and tell him to stand up to them, though I think his defence left a bit to be desired. He probably has no money to pay damages anyway. So the industry might back off for the same reason as the local council did with me. These days it will be all over the net in no time.

Animal Liberation ACT update email advice today:

The Full Federal Court has unanimously upheld an appeal against a decision to relieve an animal activist from paying for damages caused by contaminating sheep feed.

The original decision by a single judge of the Federal Court, if allowed to stand, could have compromised Australia's live export trade.

Today's ruling found that Ralph Hahnheuser's protest was against the live export of sheep and not, as his defence claimed, an act of environmental protection.

The appeal was initiated by exporters in October 2007, after the Federal Court cleared Mr Hahnheuser of causing financial loss to exporters, even though he contaminated the feed and water supply of sheep assembled for live export at Portland in November 2003.

The VFF president Simon Ramsay said today's finding sent a clear message that activists should not use protecting the environment as an excuse for acts of criminal damage.

"This case is a win not only for livestock producers, but for all Australian agricultural industries," Mr Ramsay said.

"Farmers can now feel confident that the law is on their side in preventing similar acts of agricultural terrorism in the future."

VFF Livestock Group president Ailsa Fox said would-be activists could take the finding as a warning, that they will be held accountable for their actions.

"The government needs to make sure that this apparent loophole in the Trade Practices Act is closed and that similar instances in the future cannot drag out for so long," she said.

The proceedings have been referred back to the original Federal Court Justice for further hearing, to determine damages.

For those genuinely interesed, thank you

As intelligent comment on this thread now appears to have waned, thank you to those who showed their concern over this barbaric trade through their support for my efforts here.

To those who only used the thread as a vehicle for comedy, for barrow pushing of irrelevant issues, and/or or as a vehicle for their churlish, childish and uncivil expression of their obvious personal animosity toward me, I dismiss your comments for what they are, and for what they reveal - ie  an obvious lack of concern over the cruelty inherent in this trade.

Richard: as the last to make rational comment here, I say I can understand the dilemma you see but this trade has actually taken thousands of jobs out of this country. The work of slaughtering the animals in Australia and then exporting them chilled generates far more employment than shipping them live. And as I pointed out, there is no need to ship them live. There are at least 40 accredited halal meatworks in Australia.

But this country is good at shipping a primary resource out for others to do the value adding.

However, it is the cruelty involved in the shipping of live animals that concerns me most, together with the hypocrisy in shipping to countries with no animal welfare laws whatsoever, while insisting on humane slaughter and handling standards in this country. That is hypocrisy in the name of profit for the few.

We ship animals to countries as far away as South Korea, where protests about the importation of live cattle (on the basis they undermined the viability of the farmers there) saw some of ours stoned to death in the street.  Yes, stoned to death in the street.  We also ship substantial numbers to Indonesia and the Phillipines. Thousands have died of heat stress between Australia and those countries.

We will continue to fight for an end to this abominable trade for as long as it takes. We have hopes that the  joining of poweful overseas animal welfare groups with Animals Australia and the RSPCA (Australia) to form Handle With Care will give new impetus to that fight.  Hande With Care is also an international organization in its own right with other overseas groups. RSPCA (Australia) is the national body of that organization and despite the stacking of boards in the State branches by animal user industries, the national body has a strong policy against the live export trade.

The long distance transport of animals by land as well as by sea is an issue all over the world, including here and Handle With Care is working on that in many countries.  You may recall the terrible state of the feral horses rounded up in the Territory and shipped to South Australia many years ago, many of them dead and injured on arrival.  We pushed hard for changes in the law and ultimately at least obtained a Code of Practice for the Transport of Animals in this country. I made substantial input into that process at the time, as well as into the development of Codes for meatworks and saleyards. There are still problems in those areas but things have improved considerably over what they once were. We used to lose millions of dollars a year in this country through the bruising of cattle between farmgate and meatworks.

In Europe there are major issues over long distance transport of animals over land. One of the most influential people in that area was my good friend Chris Larter, an English woman who first got involved over the shipment of horses between eastern and western Europe. She was actually a horse transporter herself. She has for the past ten years or more now based herself in Jordan where she runs an animal shelter for working donkeys and stray animals. She also runs animal husbandry courses to assist owners in better care of their animals, and when she sees a need she collects and personally delivers food and blankets to the villagers themselves. True compassion does not have boundaries. 

Christine Townend, who assisted me in founding Animal Liberation ACT, went off to run an animal shelter in India for 17 years. There her work resulted in rabies being virtually eradicated in Jaipur. She is a truly remarkable woman.  

Yes, I well remember the pork in the feedtrough episode. I cannot recall his name either now or what group he belonged to. 

For those interested in assisting Animals Australia on this issue you may to to the website and download the live export petition and also donate to the organization. You may also direct that your money be allocated to whatever other cause concerns you. Or you can donate to the organization I founded in 1979 and which is still going strong, the ACT Branch of Animal Liberation which is also a member of Animals Australia. Just google the name for contact details of both organizations. You can also make bequests to both.

Cheers. Unless futher comment from those genuinely interested in this issue is made, over and out from me. I will update on the results of our work on this issue as time goes by.  

Public opinion

will carry the day, Jenny Hume, one hopes.

I recall, at a Myer cosmetic counter, asking for a perfume free of animal testing, and being bemused and pleased because the surprised sales assistant thereby felt free to take off into an impassioned, almost tearful commentary on the Cormo Express.

People care, and deeply. Some farmers (and others) don't, - viz those who bash babies, mistreat devoted family pets - but many are locked into this masculine gender stereotyping nonsense, where they resolutely squash or deny their finer feelings, for whatever reasons.

Thank you for your efforts.

A nice story F Kendall

What a nice story F Kendall. While a bit off thread, I know that it was Peter Singer who most influenced Henry Spira in the US who then went on to be one of the most dedicated and successful animal rights activists in the world. He has since died. Few have achieved as much as that one man did and he was famous for his work against the testing of cosmetics on animals. Some time I will write a thread on that issue as there is still much to do. 

But I guess it is Peter Singer to whom the animal world owes the most. He inspired so many people to action around the world, including me, though I had started a few years earlier against our local abattoir and saleyards - but Singer fuelled the small fire that had started in me - hell 36 years ago now - how time passes.

I think half the world was watching the Cormo as an increasingly frantic government tried to find a home for the sheep and get it off the front pages. It was not a good look for the trade or this country. If there was any real people parallel it would have been the Tampa but we won't go there on this thread.

But the Cormo of course is just one of a litany of disasters. The first one that made me sick was the Farid Fares in 1980 - yes, 29 years of disasters since. It was at Christmas time in that year that it burned off our coast with its 40 605 Australian sheep on board. I can remember screaming, why can't they do something, even send the navy to sink the bloody thing to stop the slow burning to death of those animals. God knows how long it was before it actually sank. 

Yes some people care, some don't. Most farmers I know do, especially when they find out unsavoury truths.  Animals Australia was able to identify by their tags Australian sheep being mistreated in the ME and took the footage back to show the farmer who sold them. He was so appalled he said he would never sell animals to the live traders ever again. But there will always be cruel people, both to animals and to their fellow human beings. I would never deliberately hurt anyone or any living thing.

Yes Marilyn I put the cockroaches out too, rather than stomp on them. I also check the logs for insects and spiders before I put them on the fire and take them back out outside to the garden. My late brother used to do the same - a mere male catching ants and slaters - something to watch. He also always took the kid in the orphanage for Christmas that no one else would, ie the troublesome one left behind.

Thank you for your encouragement F Kendall. We have our differences but basically we both know we both care about the things that matter. 

BTW: I have met Claude. He is rather benign. We were led to believe he attacks people. Instead he totally ignored us and slept the evening through. We've all been had.

They were cheering

Jenny, we didn't write the piece because we believed that the people concerned about the Cormo actually gave a flying fig about the people who drowned on SEIVX.

They cheered, they laughed and said "it serves them right, they were illegals".

Animals are fantastic and most are more interesting than humans but get real. We animal humans eat millions of them every day of the week to stay alive because we have this deranged belief that we are superior.

Your whole argument sounds very like Wendy Lewthwaite's - she was after halal killing in Australia as well. Sorry, but killing is killing, dead is dead and the animals cannot tell us if it was a kind killing or not, can they?

Kalymnian Express - no way to die whether man or beast

On board the Kalymnian Express. No way to die. Drowing would have been a relief for these animals.

We're all one

Congratulations on your well written and researched original article, Jenny.

I am saddened that some readers do not see that animal welfare and human welfare work together.  We are all animals after all, and the way we treat animals is always the way we treat other humans.

I want to encourage all humans to get in touch with their compassion - with their hearts.  This is what really matters.

Compassion is the key

Jenny and Ralph, compassion is the key.

This week we have seen the nation show compassion for a baby whale.

The plight of the whale calf, which Australians have nicknamed "Colin," dominated news coverage since Sunday when it was first sighted and began trying to suckle from boats it apparently mistook for its mother.

Officials believe the 1- to 2-month-old calf was abandoned by its mother, possibly because it was ill. Wildlife officials said it appeared the whale had also been attacked by a shark.

Why do we show so much compassion for a whale and ignore the plight of sheep? We fight for whale conservation on the global stage, but at the same time we still export live sheep. It seems some animals have more value to us than others. I think it is very hypocritical. I think the media has a lot to do with the problem – we see the sad story of a baby whale, but very little of the dead and dying sheep.

We need to show compassion for all animals, in fact, all life.

The media needs to show pictures of distressed and dying animals. It is the only way the public will respond and demand an end to live sheep exports.

The media has helped John

John, the media has in fact been quite good in terms of covering the issue and has shown the Animals Australia footage on prime time and in various current affairs programs.  The resulting public furore forced the suspension of the trade to Egypt for more than a year for cattle, and I don't think it has yet recommenced to Egypt for sheep. Presssure resulted in a new meatworks being built in Egypt with better standards though major issues still exist. 

The government recommenced the trade in sheep after signing an MOU with the Egyptians and hailed that as a success! All the Egyptians had signed was a piece of paper saying it would unload the sheep on arrival - avoiding the Cormo sort of stand off. Nothing was guaranteed about the way the sheep would be treated after arrival. 

So Australia on the basis of this worthless piece of paper sent tens of thousands of sheep over for their Eid festival  when sheep are slaughtered en masse, and in homes by families. Every man is expected to sacrifice a sheep and 9 year old boys were doing it when I was in Pakistan.

Hence the footage of our sheep on arrival being crammed into boots of cars, run down in the street and dragged and hog tied and slung onto the rooftop of cars, to be taken away for the festival. The outcry here resulted in the sheep trade being stopped again. 200 000 signed a petition against the trade.

Over the years the government has been forced to upgrade standards and of course the latest, to give more room to the sheep, is being opposed bitterly by the industry. All improvements have to be forced on the industry to a large extent. 

There is a long way to go and basically Senator Georges found over 25 years ago that the trade could never be made humane. You cannot crowd animals on a boat for two weeks and not have quite a lot of them die and the rest suffer high levels of stress. Many refuse to eat the dry pellet food and literally starve to death.

I think people who care about one baby whale are just as concerned about the sheep, but when millions of animals are involved and big business is running the show with government endorsement, they no doubt feel rather powerless. 

Marilyn, it is obvious you have no interest in this issue so why keep coming here in the manner you do? One wonders what you are actually trying to achieve. Probably nothing other than to try and stir . Well sorry. This fish refuses to bite.  My policy is to ignore the content of comments of those who only want to stir and play games such as yourself and Mr Avent. So off you go dear. I am sure you have better things to do.  

Yes it is all that matters Ralph

Ralph, thank you and yes it is all that matters. Selective compassion has never sat well for me and to me the suffering of any animal should never be used as a basis for humour of any kind for any purpose. There is nothing funny about the suffering of animals. It is hard enough getting the information out to those who do not know about this terrible trade without having to deal with that sort of thing.

We are following up in the ME on the fate of animals once they arrive and on the slaughter practices which leaves so much to be desired. But you cannot just complain, you have to try and educate over there and our organization is in touch with government agencies and concerned organizations in the ME to that end. 

Will put updates on this site from time to time.    Cheers

Killing sharks for fins

So Jenny, did you see the revolting news stories about fishermen in Australia bravely murdering little sharks and slashing off their fins to sell to Asia? About 10,000 or more per year, it seems, while we dare to lecture Japan about killing a few hundred whales.

What you seem to forget, Jenny, is that I don't approve of the trade you advocate against but while children are dying of starvation every day of the year I am not going to get my knickers in a twist.

And if you can't see the funny side of the work by a group of women appalled by people caring more about a few bloody sheep on a boat than they did about 353 dead human beings who drowned in the most horrendous of circumstances then frankly my dear I don't give a stuff.

Just a few points Marilyn

Just a few points Marilyn and I promise, I won't use your definition of 5000 as a few.

1. Shark fin trade - utterly barbaric as is the killing of whales.

2. Children dying of starvation as 8 million kilograms of high protein food is thrown overboard. I accept. Nothing for you to get upset about.

3. A few bloody sheep - five thousand dead actually and appalling suffering to tens of thousands of others as they were ferried around the high seas with nowhere to go - but OK, just a few bloody sheep to you and your friends.

Not something anyone who really cared about the cruelty involved would seek to write a comedy about. But you say you do care but have other priorities. OK. I believe you.

BTW: You do not bother to inform us on what basis you assert those who did care about the fate of the sheep on the Como cared less about the people on the Siev X. A link, a survey result of some kind to back up you claim? Of course there can be none so forget it. Stop wasting my time and yours. And if you want to discuss the Siev X and detention centres please do so on one of your own threads. Try to practise what you preach about thread hijacking dear. No offence - just a polite request.

No point really, but the sharks are happy

There seems little point in putting up threads on new issues on WD only to see them hijacked by Marilyn Shepherd in order to push her barrow on totally unrelated issues such as the Seiv X, detention centres and illegal immigrants.  Intrude on her threads one inch and see the billigerent outcry from her. One rule for her threads and one for others it seems in her view. Sheer hypocrisy.

Bill Avent's expressed hilarity on a thread dealing with the misery of millions of animals speaks volumes about that person in my opinion.  No doubt he did not bother to read the thread in order to better inform himself on the issue of halal exports from this country, having raised it and then demonstrated his ignorance of same on Marilyn's Mustafa thread - to her objection, not to him, but to me. Good one Marilyn.

I accept Marilyn's concern that she is more interested in the fate of the millions of starving children around the world than the dreadful suffering occasioned by this country to millions of animals every year. Fair enough.

She is right, the animals shipped live do feed people and would be slaughtered anyway. Whether they get to refugees in camps or a single starving child is probably debateable and probably a pipe dream.

But I put it to Marilyn all those sheep currently shipped live could all be slaughtered in this country and shipped chilled or canned, so not shipping them live does not deprive one hungry child of one ounce of meat. In fact the hungry children of the world are often in desert camps and on tips around the world. Providing the meat canned if refrigeration is not available would be far more effective in reaching them I would think. They would hardly be able to run down a mob of sheep to feed themselves, even if it was practical to dump them in a desert damp devoid of water and grass.  

I also put it to Marilyn that in fact the 8 million kilograms of meat from those     400 000 dead animals on the ships, which were  thrown overboard to the sharks or lost at sea, deprived those 9 million starving children of 8 million kilograms of high protein food - enough to give them 300 grams each for 3 days - or feed a smaller number for a hell of a lot longer.

If people are not concerned about the cruelty of this trade, then perhaps they might like to reflect upon the sheer bloody waste of 8 million kilograms of meat in a world where so many are starving. Trying to ship the animals live is what deprives the hungry of this world.

And that waste does not even take into account the loss of the byproducts from those animals such as skins and bone meal - the latter a product which if exported can lift production in poor agricultural zones.

I am not interested in putting up pieces to be a vehicle for obsessive barrow pushers of irrelevant issues. It is better for a thread to have no comments at all than be taken over by Marilyn Shepherd and Alan Curran and Bill Avent in the manner this one was. It not only trivialises an important issue, it totally dumbs down the site as a whole.

When I put articles of this kind up I draw them to the attention of academics, government organizations and industry bodies - all over the world.  When I referred this piece on to one I found myself making excuses for the standard set on WD by those commenters.

I won't be doing that again.  


Jenny Hume, hilarity is hilarity, wherever it is found. Perhaps you cannot see anything funny about it. Perhaps humour is lost on you, wherever it is found.

Indeed I did read the thread. It told me exactly nothing I didn't know already. On the other hand, in Marilyn's post I found something new. And where do you imagine what you wrote here contradicted anything I said in Marilyn's Mustafa thread?

Sick humour

Humour of the kind you and Ms Shepherd endorse here is certainly not one of my attributes Mr Avent and hopefully never will be.

So you didn't learn anything new from this thread. You knew it all. Surprise surprise. Your demonstrated ignorance on Marilyn's other thread tells a different story. You can't see how? Tough.

You know my policy in regard to you, and a good policy it is too. 

check up who's involved, well done Jenny, stop the cruelty

Beautifully written article, Jenny, and a topic that I too am passionate about in the total irrational – economically and practically – and cruel actions. Keep it up. Animals deserve humane and respectful treatment, not this barbaric cruelty.

As you have said, changing it makes sense – change it to a local production as you rightly say:

humane treatment here, legally and supervised properly

  • inhumane transport conditions
  • economic benefits here for new industries -a local halal industry here adn packaging and transport and freezing etc, the left overs as you said, etc
  • waste of fuel transporting air-conditioned animals instead of prepackaged smaller units with greater energy economy.
  • handing over livestock to inhumane treatment at the endpoint, already documented by local and Israeli activists.

And yet the industry was supplied with capital to purchase new ships without proper critical analysis by the Howard/State Governments. Just who is involved with this industry that makes it so protected?

That is where you look, Jenny. Show me the money and the people. Understand the whole issue and then the solution is clearer.


Thank you Angela

Angela, am not sure about the beautifully written bit but thank you for your interest and support against this abominable trade. 

Oh yes, follow the money. Big names in there and they are not all men. How any woman could get involved in this trade beats me.

Our group will be carrying out more investigations in the ME and exposing the fate of the animals. Appalling stories have emerged on that score - cattle for days without water on trucks stuck for hours at border crossings in the 40 degree plus heat.

At least there are some voices in the ME starting to be heard. There are some very brave local people who take enormous risks in helping expose the cruelty over there, and we are making headway with the authorities. After the exposure of Bassatin a new abattoir has been built to handle Australian cattle in Egypt, but that does not eliminate the cruelty over there to other animals, nor in the shipping of ours, and the issue of cutting the throats of cattle while they are fully conscious, and the manner of their restraint in order to do that remains one of great concern. If they can stun animals under halal here, then the Australian government should be insisting on the same with our cattle at that abattoir. I have written to Kevin Rudd on that issue and will advise of his response.


Kathy and Anthony - thank you

Kathy Farrely and Anthony Nolan, thank you for your interest in this issue. It is people like you who are concerned and now more informed who can help spread the message further.

Ruddock's final folly


The pictures here show Ruddock lost the plot completely.


Thanks for the play on sheeple.

Not sure it's a poem, but whatever it is, it's hilarious.

It is not Rudd's camp

Alan, you could only claim it was Rudd's camp if he had built the damn thing or locked someone up in it. He did neither.

Rudd's camp

Marilyn Shepherd, you can say what you like but it is now Rudd's concentration camp as he is keeping it open and will fill it when he needs to.

You omitted to tell us all about the following, which proves that it it is now Rudd's camp.

"A group of refugee advocates who have had their first look at the new Christmas Island detention centre say that the facility is completely out of step with the Government's current immigration policy.

They say that the $400 million detention centre has inappropriately high security with heavy fencing including in recreational and educational areas.

The head of Refugee Council of Australia Paul Power says that the facility does not reflect any of the changes that have been made to the Australian immigration policy in recent years.

"It's just really sad and appalling that at some point someone in government didn't put a hold on the project or consider much more substantial changes to the centre than actually really did occur," he said.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says that security is a necessary component of any detention facility.

"We inherited the Christmas Island facility, but it's a necessary part of our detention regime, and will be used if required."

Senator Evans says that the key is make sure that refugee applications are processed quickly.

"Long term detention is opposed by this Government, and we want to make sure it doesn't occur," he said

"But equally we want to make sure that people don't arrive unlawfully in Australia. And you've got to have the regime that sends the message that they shouldn't come unlawfully to this country."

So do you still think Rudd is going to use it as a holiday camp?. Get back into the real world, Rudd is as big a bastard as anybody and is ably assisted by Evans.

Richard: Alan, can you continue this line of conversations on one of Marilyn's threads and leave this one clear for the live animal trade?  Thank you.


This is what Webdiary is good for in my view.  Thank you for the article.  I had no idea.

I thank you too, Jenny

Certainly an eye opener Jenny.

I thank you too,  for your comprehensive and thought provoking piece.

"One only has to visit some of those countries with a poor human rights record and then look at how they treat their animals to know the truth of that. But are we any better when for profit we ship millions of animals to those countries in the way we do while being fully aware of cruelty to animals in those countries? I say no, we are not. "

I heartily agree .

Keep up the good fight Jen. There are many like myself  who appreciate what good work you (and many others ) do  in your quest to alleviate the suffering of animals and to eliminate the savage cruelty of live animal exports.

Wow Kathy

Dead animals could feed starving children all over the world, Kathy.

Did you bother to read the thread where I stated clearly that I despise cruelty to animals? That I hate the live trade business? That I don't eat meat?

Methinks very strongly that most people would consider the death of 9 million innocent children dying of starvation a tad more important than a few animals dying on the way to be killed to feed people, don't you?

Practise what you preach

I don't think that caring for the treatment of poor  defenceless animals should be compared  to starving children.

Please do not try and compare the two, Marilyn.

You were scathingly critical of Jenny encroaching upon your thread.  Practice what you preach!

In any event, I totally agree  with what Jenny has said many times before.  People who care about the welfare of animals are also very fervent about the welfare of their fellow human beings.

Rudd doesn't have a concentration camp

Alan, Rudd has not built one concentration camp. Nor incarcerated one woman or child in any concentration camp.

The poem was to counter people like you, by the way, a way of letting off a bit of steam and nothing more.

 Alan, how about you do us a favour? If you have nothing to say, don't say it.

Rudd camp

Marilyn Shepherd, what do you think the concentration camp is on Christmas Island, a branch of Club Med? Do you also think that Rudd and Smith will not use it when the need rises, because Smith said they would.

By they way I have plenty to say, you just want to listen to the bits that don't fit into your fantasy world.


Marilyn Shepherd, perhaps the sheep can be sent to Rudd's concentration camp and live out their days nibbling the grass.

Are we really expected to believe that it took 3 of you to write that piece in 2003?

Fiona: There isn't all that much grass on Christmas Island (yep, I have been there - just visiting...). Lots of crabs, though - but I don't think that sheep are into crustaceans.

And only 9 million children died of hunger

DISCLAIMER: I do not eat animals, I cannot abide cruelty to animals, I think the live trade in animals is atrocious and it has to be stopped and this because I watched animals being slaughtered on a weekly basis on my grand fathers' and uncles farms and it made me sick.


All of the animals who died on the ships were bred here to be slaughtered there so they were going to die anyway. The SIEVX team of sleuths wrote this during the standoff with the Cormo because many thousands noted that the plight of the sheep was more important to some than the plight of those on the SIEVX or the children overboard boat, or the people sluiced up and sent off to Nauru and Manus Island.

by Kate Wildermuth, Marilyn Shepherd and Anon. from Armidale
September - October 2003

Let's move forward to the next election campaign. Is it possible that now the flow of asylum seekers has dried up the Howard Government will turn it's attention to sheep?

We can picture the campaign:

  1. The sheep will be accused of throwing their lambs overboard. The government will say that they have photos and a video as absolute proof it happened. We'll be told that these are not the type of sheep to be allowed into Australia. There will be statements such as 'they will never set hoof on our shores'.
  2. They'll be accused of being queue jumping sheep. What about all the other sheep in the sheep camps waiting to be allowed in?
  3. They'll claim that if we take these sheep we'll be swamped by thousands of others wanting to come here. Merino Vanstone will present statistics to show that Australia is the most generous of all towards refugee sheep.
  4. The sheep will be attacked for not having passports and proper documentation or having thrown it overboard.
  5. We'll be told that it is cruel to allow the sheep out of detention on the ship so they can do what normal lambs do. Merino Vanstone will say the detention of the lambs is for their own good so they won't be disappointed when she locks them up again.
  6. We'll be told that locking them up is necessary because it will deter others.
  7. They'll say that these sheep paid sheeple smugglers. They must be wealthy sheep. Genuine sheep don't pay smugglers.
  8. We'll hear how a plane flew directly over the boat containing the sheep but saw nothing.
  9. The sheep will be accused of being potential terrorists with links to Osama Baa Laden.
  10. They'll say these sheep could not possibly love their lambs. Why on earth would they not stay on a strife torn farm if they loved them?
  11. We'll be told they could be hiding weapons under their wool.
  12. The media will be told not to photograph them or it will sheepify them.
  13. We'll be told that they only had lambs to blackmail the government.
  14. NZ will take them - they can't get enough of 'em.
  15. They'll be accused of trying to take advantage of our limited grass and then bleating to the elite.
  16. The government will ram it home that they are so baaaaad that most of them will get the chop anyway and not to listen to the woolly thinking of the sheepitarians.
  17. Most Australians will follow like ... yep, you guessed it.
  18. And absolutely no-one will tell the PM.

In the meantime, while 39,000 or so animals died who would have died anyway last year, 9 million human children died because they couldn't get a bowl of rice and they will never see a slice of lamb or beef so though I hate cruelty to animals in every form (don't tell anyone but I put out the cockroaches if I can catch them) I care a good deal more that a stupid human race cares not a jot about the children who slip silently away because they are too weak to cry.

Hope you enjoy the play on the sheeple we wrote all those years ago.

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