"Might I remind you that when we closed down the live animal export industry, it was around about the same time that we started seeing a lot of people arriving in boats in Australia."
And so says Barnaby Joyce, our Deputy PM, in perhaps one of the more bizarre comments ever made about live export.
Whoever would have thought boatloads of cattle would be such successful barriers to that veritable navy of refugee boats that Indonesia was just waiting to launch to attack Australia?
As Labor backbencher Nick Champion told Sky News: "It's hard to believe this man is deputy prime minister."
Well there are plenty of facts and figures flying around the new boat including:"More than 100 fans are onboard, with a 320 PAT (pen air turnover) refreshing air continuously where livestock are housed."
There may be fans and it may be better designed (we can only hope) but its definitely NOT air-conditioned comfort....we are only talking fans!
And lets look at the really telling figures when it comes to animal welfare...including ventilation...."With a 23,500 square meter carrying capacity it can transport ...75,000 sheep". Doesnt take Einstein to figure out that that is over 3 sheep to the square metre (cut out 1 square metre, cram in 3 and a bit sheep and just try it for size.....thats what both the government and the exporters think is fair. Matters little whether it is an old ship or a new ship or what the PAT is .....with this stocking density, animal welfare is severely compromised...and heat stress can and will occur.
Wellard has just announced the launch of its new super-sized cattle boat, set to take Australian cattle to China. Southern cattle presumably as its base is to be Portland. Yippee….the National cattle herd is at an all time low and now we will be ramping up further exodus from our shores….at the cost of local processing, local jobs…oh and with a few animal welfare issues. Thanks Wellard…. Wonder if our domestic meat prices will rise…..whilst our abattoir workers head off to Centrelink….just a thought.
And……whilst we busily deplete our National herd, we have caused oversupply in Vietnam…that's clever.
Then the final insult. If it wasn't bad enough exporting sheep to Pakistan so they could be slaughtered and sent off to the Middle East as chilled/frozen product (because the Middle East countries do actually have refrigeration), now we have Thailand set to do the same with cattle. WHAT IS WRONG WITH AUSTRALIA? Other countries see the benefit of slaughtering animals and exporting chilled/frozen product…..we are so stupid, that we are just sending them the raw materials…..the iron-ore issue all over again. We have a 10 billion dollar export meat industry ….are we going to erode that for the sake of a <1 billion dollar LE trade?