OPINION: Agendas driving live export imbroglio
Story Added : 17th June 2011
I don’t want to sound like some whacker from the bush, but I reckon there is a lot more to this live cattle export fiasco than meets the eye.
And except for the poor old livestock producers, the only ones with absolutely no say in what happens from here on in, the goal of everyone else involved would seem to sweep it all under the carpet.
Under the carpet?
Canberra just wants it gone off the front pages.
The animal activists want it gone off the national business agenda.
Even Meat and Livestock Australia would be happy to see it gone, as long as there is someone else to blame.
If they can all achieve that by ending the trade, they will all be happy.
But what will it really end?
A large part of the northern livestock industry, obviously, which will be quickly forgotten
Sadly though, the one thing which won’t be ended will be the mistreatment of animals in Indonesian abattoirs.
Whether that mistreatment is in just a handful, or all of Indonesia’s 800-odd official and backyard slaughterhouses.
Because if groups such as Animals Australia and RSPCA achieve their goal and end the trade, they will immediately start looking for new targets.
And once Australia no longer deals with Indonesia as a live cattle trade partner, Canberra will gratefully slink off to dodge the next bullet.
Our loud-mouthed usual suspects – the Xenephons and Wilkies of this world – will be back on the hunt for new headlines.
With the trade ended, not one of them I can guarantee will devote a scintilla of support to helping continue the turn around in centuries of culture in what is now one of the world’s most populous nations.
So, wherever Indonesia sources its future demands for live cattle, I think I can safely guarantee you the new supplier will not feel the same responsibility the Australian livestock industry did in trying to improve conditions.
Improvements which would not, and could not, ever be made in a few years, or even a decade.
Not in a world which measures its history and culture by millennia instead of moments, as we do.
Come to think of it, let’s try, because no-one else here has, to have a look at it from the Indonesian side of the fence.
Let’s agree, just for the sake of argument, that the Indonesians were major suppliers of valuable technology, or textiles, or widgets to Australia.
And out of the blue announced they would be suspending all these vital exports until Australia cleaned up its race relations and the Third World standards in which most of its indigenous population live.
Or, opened its doors to more boat people.
What would be the reaction here?
So, it is no wonder Canberra’s cavalier intrusion into a market it knows very little, or bugger all about has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon the length and breadth of the Indonesian archipelago.
Or, that very limited, very sensational media coverage in tandem with an animal welfare group which would have us all vegan, is now being seen as a national insult.
In the Pacific/Asian world to which Australia belongs, like it or not, we population and political minnows.
Chronologically speaking, white Australia is the merest of blips in the scale of local time.
The danger is, are we trying to speak way too loudly, while carrying a way too small stick?