Scary stories from a lovely place
The Australian government have recently decided to pause our export of live cattle to Indonesia. It is sent live so the abattoirs there can slaughter the cows in culturally appropriate ways. But footage was shown on an Australian current affairs program showing some pretty horrible images of cruelty and mistreatment. A democratic flourish of anger followed from the Australian public and so the government decided to look into the matter.
The images are awful. I just watched them again on Youtube to refresh my memory. I wish I hadn’t. They are really horrible. But I don’t think halting the export is the long term solution. The Indonesian cattle industry will just go elsewhere to source their stock, or Australia will re-start the export once this all blows over. Our relationship with Indonesia is an important one for the future of our region. It needs to be strong, not fragile. Stopping the export also isn’t good for Australian farmers who rely on this overseas market.
I’ve always found it a little strange when people who aren’t vegetarians get upset about cruelty to animals. Again, let me reiterate that I don’t condone the mistreatment or torture of animals, obviously I don’t. But I am conscious that I eat them and unfortunately I don’t catch or nurture and kill them myself. I buy my meat in a shop or from a butcher and so am well removed from the killing process itself. The movie ‘Food Inc’ that Stephen and I watched last year just before I went into labour highlights this problem and encourages the viewers to understand where their food is coming from and the processes, some cruel, some chemical, it goes through from animal to steak. The reality is that any person who consumes meat that is sourced from mass production is engaging in cruelty somewhere along the line.
I’ve also found this story ironic in the light of the Australian government’s possible decision to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia. They’ve been looking for a while for a country in South Asia to dump these poor people on, and at the moment the front runner is Malaysia. This nation doesn’t have a brilliant human rights record and recently I saw footage of an asylum seeker in detention there being whipped. He was stripped down to the waist, splayed against a pole being lashed. The images were just as bad, and frighteningly similar to the ones that came out of the abattoir in Indonesia.
Cruelty to animals can often garner more support than mistreatment of humans. It’s not as if safety and dignity for humans is sorted out first by the global community and then animals are cared for. I guess that’s why there are lots of charities raising money for animal rights. And again, animals do deserve rights. But not as many as humans.
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