Who filmed the video clip of Australian cattle in the Indonesian abattoirs?

IN June 2011 the Australian government halted all live cattle exports to Indonesia after ABC Four Corners broadcast disturbing footage of Australian cattle being mistreated in Indonesian abattoirs. 

Australians were lead to believe that this footage, that shocked the nation, was typical of what occurs inside many abattoirs in Indonesia: that the footage was real.

We were told the footage wasn’t taken by Four Corners or the ABC.  Lyn White from Animals Australia is the face of the campaign against live cattle export and she starred in the documentary. She was at pains to tell us it was easy enough to get the footage. So we were lead to believe she had taken it herself.

Of course professionals could have staged something like this. The footage could have been totally contrived. We could have been looking at a work of fiction: a setup, a horror film.

Interestingly there is an organisation that specialises in film production for environmental, conservation and animal protection groups. In the ‘Tracks Investigations, Annual Review 2011-12’ the UK-based directors, Gem and Ian, claim responsibility for the footage shown on ABC TV. They boast that their work was “aided” by the screening on “Australia’s main TV station ABC in May”. They also claim it was their most successful project in their 18 year history:

“Some 40,000 media stories followed, sparking massive public opposition to the live export trade and awakening the consciences of a nation to the plight of animals.”

What I’m curious to know is: if it was so easy to get the footage as claimed by Lyn White, why did Animals Australia contract Tracks Investigations to do the work? And if it was indeed Track Investigations, and not Lyn White, who were responsible for the shocking video clips, why wasn’t this declared in the ABC Four Corners program?


61 Responses to Who filmed the video clip of Australian cattle in the Indonesian abattoirs?

  1. Helen Armstrong May 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    And was a commission paid, and who paid it?

  2. Ol'grumblebum May 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Aww c’mon Jennifer – are you really expecting integrity and honesty from THEIR ABC?

  3. Binny May 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I don’t think it was staged, but I do think it involved a LOT of hours of filming.
    Simply because if the stuff ups shown were normal, nothing would ever get done.

  4. Binny May 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    When I say a lot of hour of filming, I mean over months if not years.

  5. Mick In The Hills May 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Here we go again. If this follows the usual script, the cover-up will be worse than the original deception. A bit like the IPCC’s shenanigans, as exposed in The Delinquent Teenager.

  6. jennifer May 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Just filing this additional info that has come in by email since posting…

    Useful background info at these links:




    Relevant questions emailed to me:

    “There are a series of other issues that need to be considered.

    1. How much did AA pay TI to provide the film they needed for the campaigns? They want everyone to be transparent.
    2. Some of the Indonesians involved in the filming claimed they were paid to do deliberately cruel things. Who paid them?
    3. The press reported that the women who were paid, and did “star” in the production, were both beaten and raped by all those who lost their jobs.
    4. Given AA paid TI, and 4-corners ended up with the footage, how much did they pay? Who owns the copyright now – TI, AA or 4-corners?
    5. RSPCA was allegedly involved also according to the press. What did they contribute to the “finances”? And what responsibility do they have?
    6. Does AA (or anyone else involved) receive any Australian Government Funding? If so, the tax payer is paying to develop the live cattle industry and then paying for organisations such as AA to run campaigns against it.
    7. You’ll see that TI is also working for AA on the live sheep trade? Who is paying? Is it the same thing.

    The bigger issue involved here is more important:

    1. The quickest way to get political action for an AA issue is to create moral outrage. Most cost-effective and no science involved.
    2. To do this you need “footage” that television channels will play, and even pay for.
    3. Greenpeace started all this with one of their first whaling issues ….
    4. The campaign managers have been responsible for some “dastardly” abuses:
    – skinning baby kangaroos alive to film;
    – stabbing dolphins to death for filming;
    – skinning baby seals alive for filming;
    – cutting the fins off live sharks for filming.
    5. And it works! The Sea Shepherd is another case where media contributes to the costs of their protests by purchasing “the campaign film”
    6. When it is shown on TV, it gets credibility distanced from its murky origins.
    7. Ask youself a question – if you started swimming in the Pacific today, how far would you need to go before you accidentally came across a shark that had had its fins cut off while alive, and was discarded into the sea to die? Let’s face it, almost all inshore fisheries land shark meat and fins, and only perhaps in some deep water long-lining operations where sharks are a bycatch species would any live finning still occur. So how do campaigns get film of struggling sharks on the bottom with their fins cut off? Really quite simple … catch a shark, and cut its fins off specifically for filming. Is there any other way?” [end of quote]

  7. Binny May 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    These activist groups have been playing fast and lose with the truth for a generation.

    The same can be said for journalist, especially TV journalism. To the point where young journalist think this is the ‘right’ way to do things.

    For me the big issue here is the frightingly incompetent response form the Gillard Government.

  8. cohenite May 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    “For me the big issue here is the frightingly incompetent response form the Gillard Government.”

    Has there been any other kind from this government?

  9. Dave Shorter May 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Congratulations Jennifer for exposing these self serving mischief makers.
    Organizations which create and exploit fear and/or revulsion (WWF previous post,AA this post) need their reputations lowered.It is always at the expense of others that they get ahead.

  10. Debbie May 11, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Well said Binny,
    Most definitely fast and loose.
    It is not until we see how that plays out in an issue that we do have personal knowledge that we become aware how fast and loose they are capable of being.
    This particular case was a shocker.
    And you’re right, the knee jerk reaction from the govt was appalling.
    Unfortunately, it is not only one side of politics.
    They all tend to behave in a similar fashion when these activist groups score an emotional media hit.

  11. marc May 11, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Oh, Jennifer. Sinking to yet another new low for a ‘scientist'(?). I wonder who/what will be next for your personal vendettas.

    And Debbie ‘They all tend to behave in a similar fashion when these activist groups score an emotional media hit’.

    I am sure you didn’t object to governments putting in place all those drought measures for farmers and rural communities over the recent drought. I do recall media being flooded at the time with (legitimately) sad stories from rural and regional Australia.

    How is the response to the issue of the cruel treatment of conscious and aware animals any different – both issues used the media successfully to raise awareness of an appaling situation.

  12. kuhnkat May 11, 2012 at 10:14 am #


    “How is the response to the issue of the cruel treatment of conscious and aware animals any different – both issues used the media successfully to raise awareness of an appaling situation.”

    Where is your PROOF that there is an appaling abbatoir situation?!?!?! Oh yeah, the video in question and testimony from activists.


  13. marc May 11, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    kuhnkat – where is your proof that there isn’t an appalling abattoir situation?!

    Are you implying that is was all staged? They weren’t real animals? It was fake blood etc?

  14. cohenite May 11, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    “the cruel treatment of conscious and aware animals”

    You mean the Greens; who has been treating them cruelly?

  15. Dave Shorter May 11, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Has any journalist gone to the Indonesian villages where AA’s cruel images were gathered to follow this up ?
    The allegation is that AA contracted Tracks Investigations to get the images they wanted.Doesn’t that ring any alarm bells with you ?

  16. marc May 11, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Hi Dave. The key word here is ‘allegation’. Furthermore, I think regardless of whether the images were ‘sought’, there can be no denying what the images showed.

  17. Dave Richards May 11, 2012 at 11:45 am #


    I suspect the “first aided by ABC” in their annual report is a typo for “first aired by ABC”. This changes the context and sense of the statement.

  18. cohenite May 11, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    “This changes the context and sense of the statement.”

    No it doesn’t.

  19. jennifer May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm #


    I phoned a journalist yesterday who has been following this story asking whether he was aware that Tracks Investigations did the filming etcetera. He was. He said the Australian commercial TV channels were offered the footage but didn’t show it because they thought it was dodgy would be a ratings killer i.e. people would turn their TVs off. It was the ABC who choose to run with it apparently fully aware of the involvement of Tracks Investigation; perhaps because many ABC journalists are essentially activists.

    There is apparently an equally disturbing, but real, story about the recriminations against those who helped stage the filming by local abattoir workers in particular members of a local animal rights organisation.

    Here are some questions for a fearless investigative journalist:
    1. How much did Animals Australia pay Tracks Investigations and how much did they pay a small local animal rights group and who did they pay at the abattoirs?
    2. What happened to some of the members of the local animals rights group when the story broke and the abattoir workers lost their jobs?

  20. Dave Richards May 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Jennifer, Cohenite,

    Please don’t misunderstand me, and let’s keep some perspective here on what is a small point in this whole sorry affair.

    I completely agree with your concerns about the ethics of the journalism involved, have always been supicious about the film, and deplore the tactics of the more militant animal rights activists. I also agree that the ABC has some serious accountability issues for its clearly partisan attitude to certain hot topics, and its sometimes woeful investigative journalism (how are the ABC in fact held accountable?)

    In their annual report, Tracks Investigations actually said :
    “The investigation was first aided on Australia’s main TV station ABC in May.”

    You said:
    “They boast that their work was “aided” by the screening on “Australia’s main TV station ABC in May””.

    If “aided” is a typo for “aired”, (and the sentence reads much better if it is), I simply feel that in all fairness, this editorial blunder should not be labelled a “boast”. It is simply a statement.

    No hidden agendas here, just looking for the fairness and honesty which I have come to associate with your blog.

  21. John Sayers May 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    I was under the impression that the abattoir in question could be hired by locals to process their own animals, (as opposed to the Australian cattle) and the film showed the locals not the trained process workers who abide by the international standards.

  22. Max May 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Where is Media Watch when you really need them?

  23. Dennis Webb May 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    John Sayers are you suggesting that:

    Tracks Investigations could have obtained through whatever means some Australian cattle, then hired the abattoir facilities, then got some untrained locals to have a go at slaughtering them?

    Then the ABC buys the footage and puts the story from Lyn White against that footage.

    And its broadcast on Four Corners to give it all some credibility.

    Where is Media Watch when you really need them!

  24. cohenite May 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    “John Sayers are you suggesting that:

    Tracks Investigations could have obtained through whatever means some Australian cattle, then hired the abattoir facilities, then got some untrained locals to have a go at slaughtering them?

    Then the ABC buys the footage and puts the story from Lyn White against that footage.

    And its broadcast on Four Corners to give it all some credibility.”

    That would seem a fair summary; have we a specific denial yet? Has the question been put?

  25. Dave Shorter May 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    If money from AA or it’s associates ended up in the hands of the slaughtermen involved in the cruelty shown on 4 corners,wouldn’t that change your view ?
    Don’t forget Marc, there are two very big groups of innocent victims involved here.Decent Australian producers and poor Indonesian consumers.
    That fearless investigative reporter might not only ask how much money was spent and what it was used for. They might ask how much came in to AA’s coffers subsequently.

  26. John Sayers May 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I’m suggesting that the cattle weren’t Australian, the slaughtermen weren’t employed by the abattoir but were locals slaughtering their own cattle having hired the abattoir facilities. Tracks Investigations filmed it and sold it to an unsuspecting Lyn White and the ABC.

  27. John Sayers May 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    BTW _ I haven’t seen the footage as I can’t view animal cruelty of any kind.

  28. Debbie May 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm #


    I am sure you didn’t object to governments putting in place all those drought measures for farmers and rural communities over the recent drought. I do recall media being flooded at the time with (legitimately) sad stories from rural and regional Australia.

    How is the response to the issue of the cruel treatment of conscious and aware animals any different – both issues used the media successfully to raise awareness of an appaling situation.

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to ask here? I think you got lost in your attempt to frame a rhetorical question?

    If you were truly trying to ask me a question…..rather than having a rhetorical shot… then I can only answer the question as it has been framed.

    There is no difference really if we are looking at Government response via knee jerk policy.
    In the case of the Indonesian abbattoirs the policy was to shut down the capacity of the live export trade in order to pander to the emotional ‘cruelty to animals’ horror.
    In the case of the drought, the policy is to shut down the productive capacity of the MDB in order to pander to the emotional ‘environment’ horror.
    In both cases, the Govt has punished the wrong people via knee jerk policy.
    Neither knee jerk policy has achieved anything that is actually sensible.

    If you meant the media…..then there was a difference…..the abbattoir piece created a much larger, horrified response than the sad photos of the drought……and there is no question that there was a drought in Australia…..but there are some questions about the extent of this cruelty in abbattoirs in Indonesia….and how the filming was done….. and it also had something to do with the fact that they were Australian cattle….which I still don’t get??????
    Would it have been OK if they were American cattle or Canadian cattle?

    BTW…the comment before the rhetorical question has nothing to do with the question if you are truly trying to draw a comparison…..I didn’t notice the Govt putting in measures for those cattle that were even remotely similar to measures put in place for drought relief.

    Also Marc…drought relief measures were in place a long, long, long, very long time before the media aired pictures of the drought….. and the media airing of those pictures had nothing to do with drought relief measures….absolutely nothing at all….nothing whatsoever….nada…..zippo.

    And I’m with John….I switched off that program immediately because I can’t abide deliberate cruelty to animals either.
    Binny’s comment was not about that and neither is Jennifer’s post….so I’m nonplussed why Marc implied it was?

  29. John Sayers May 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    It’s a non story Jen, Deb etc.

    We’ve been killing animals for……

    We are a superior predator.

    So is this our fault? do we need a psychotherapist?

  30. Johnathan Wilkes May 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Don’t worry about marc Debbie,
    he is a natural born naysayer, no matter what the subject, if you are for it he/she is again it.
    We have one in our own family and learned very early on how to deal with her, just ignore, that’s all.

  31. cinders May 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    you ask who pays, perhaps see the ABC story at http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2007/s3035405.htm

    its the same people funding the anti forestry campaign.

  32. Debbie May 12, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Also Marc,
    Not that Jen would actually need me to defend her, but I have noticed that Jen is a stickler for ‘evidence’.
    I fail to see why you would relate her questions about ‘evidence’ in this post to ‘science’?
    What did the ABC program on the Indonesian abattoirs have to do with science?
    I didn’t watch the program for the reasons above, but I have not seen any evidence in subsequent behaviour by either the media or the politics that was based on science.
    Have you?

  33. Ian Thomson May 12, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Hi Cinders,
    Jan Cameron, anti forest tell us more.
    All I saw was animal stuff.

  34. Larry Fields May 12, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Pardon me if I seem jaded, but faked documentaries been going on on for a long time. I remember reading recently about part of an old Disney film. I think that it was called White Wilderness. And yes, there was a tiny element of reality to the segment about Lemmings.

    These Arctic rodents go through dramatic boom-and-bust predator prey population cycles. The film showed the Lemmings committing mass suicide, by jumping off a cliff. What the film did not show was the film crew’s contribution. The beasties were essentially thrown off the cliff. Voila! An urban legend was born.

    The truth is that at the population peaks, Lemmings attempt mass migrations, in search of greener pastures. The mortality rate during these migrations is high, because of the rivers; many Lemmings overestimate their swimming abilities. But drowning is not as dramatic as jumping off cliffs, is it?

  35. wes george May 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    We should always be skeptical of evidence presented by the Greens and other pious “justice” interests.

    They’re devoted to a sacred mission to save the planet (or the animals) from “persecution.” They’re a secular version of old time evangelicals, with all the self-righteous passion of snake handling Pentecostals, yet without the moral restraint of Christian values. Instead their Ten Commandments are “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky.

    Over and over again we have examples of sanctimonious eco-authorities admitting later that they exaggerated a danger to motivate people to “save the planet.” James Lovelock’s recent admission that climate change can not drive humans to extinction, as he often falsely claimed in the past, is the latest example.

    Often environmentalists cause far more damage pushing their dogma while failing to see the deadly results is worse than the relatively minor injustice they seek to rectify…


    This is the perennial problem of devotional passion becoming politically coercive. If you are in possession of “The Truth” then everyone else must be wrong, and if they won’t convert, they must be evil too.

    When you’re on the side of the “greatest moral challenge of our age” against “denialists” or fighting to save animals from a “carnivorous culture of death” then what’s a few white lies?

    Now that environmentalism has joined ideological with the Marxist critique of free markets, ecology has been corrupted by the concept of “justice”, which inevitably perverts experimental science with political expedience. At the same time activists have adopted Marxist subversion tactics that assume the normal rules of ethical and social behaviour don’t apply during revolution.

    Never trust a cult who believe their faith is so pious any means is justified to achieve it.

  36. Tim Curtin May 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    All very reminiscent of and much the same timing as the ANU death threats fiction.

  37. cinders May 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Cameron and Green funder Wood purchased the Triabuna wood chip mill for $10 million last July, since then not one chip has been exported from the mill. you might recall the Senate Priviliges committee looking at how Brown and Milne spoke up against a rival bidder from the timber industry.
    The impact on Triabunna and the Tasmanian timber industry is shown in a video at http://www.truckinlife.com.au/video
    Cameron and Wood appointed former Wilderness society director Marr to run the show.

    Cameron is also backing a company called REDD forests to sell carbon credits and has purchased lots of Tasmania forests for an organisation called Tas Land Conservancy, to ‘save’ them.

    see also http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/14/wood-entrepreneur-and-activist-wont-die-wandering-in-forest/

  38. Geoff Sherrington May 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    In my files there is a “4 Corners” ABC production in which I figure with Kerry O’Brien. It is set in the days when we had been finding substantial uranium on the Top End and the Feds & Greens wanted to stop us by proclaiming a national park named Kakadu and then seeking World Heritage Listing.
    Repeatedly,I told K O’B that he was fiming in the wrong locations. He was going for some beauty spots. So when PM Hawke visited, with a cast of thousands, I took him to a place where the Park Rangers said there was a new mine called Ranger 68 being studied. Bob stood in front of several cameras, almost doing his tears down the cheeks, swearing that this beautiful place would never be mined while he was PM.
    Enter a reporter dressed like he was going for a row on the river at Oxford. Sotto voce, he said “Bob, you are in the wrong place. The Ranger 68 site is a few miles from here.” The PM’s
    face changed to turkey red and he stormed off to Darwin to broadcast bad things about us on National TV. We just pissed ourselves laughing.
    This is a story about the standards of journalism in the ABC. Watch 4 Corners.

  39. Graeme May 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Perhaps the footage of tower 7 was concocted too?

  40. Schiller Thurkettle May 13, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Seems to me that not too long ago, on this very blog, here, there was a discussion of a photograph of some abused animal published in an Australian newspaper purporting to show some kind of human atrocity, when in fact it was a random picture of roadkill. The newspaper responded by saying it was good journalism since the picture was “representative of” the “actual problem”.

    Perhaps someone here has a better recollection.

    So: Hire some thugs to abuse some animals, then peddle the film as “representative of” the “actual problem”. Not a novel approach.

  41. cohenite May 13, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    The whole issue of inhumane slaughtering is mired in religion particularly Islam; you will never see a green or animal rights person having a shot at Islam, cowards that they are; only easy targets like the cattle industry and Jews. And the same with the ABC; was there any mention in their reporting of Islam?

  42. Debbie May 13, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    That is a big part of the reason why I turned that program off almost immediately in absolute disgust.
    How could those reporters and photographers etc just stand there and allow that to happen?
    I do not accept under any reasoning that it was for a higher noble cause….they could have just as easily reported the problem without allowing that to happen….if it was indeed about saving cattle from cruel treatment….because they most certainly didn’t save those particular cattle….regardless of their nationality….which I still don’t get???????
    If Jen is correct about the way that footage was collected, then I’m even more disgusted.
    And further disgusted with the response from the Govt….they did nothing to stop it either…..they just punished Oz farmers and Indonesian feedlotters and producers….so that it looked like they did something…..they did nothing that would specifically save cattle in Indonesia from that level of cruelty…..absolutely nothing.

  43. Aynsley Kellow May 13, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    The revelation that Tracks Investigations produced this footage is deeply worrying.

    I once heard a conference presentation from a TVNZ executive producer who stated that his network had a policy of never using footage that its staff had not recorded. The reasons for this are blindingly obvious, and demonstrated here. Ironically, he also said that the one exception was footage provided by Greenpeace, on issues such as whaling, where the action was remote.

    Let’s face it, TI state that they have been commissioned by Animals Australia to provide footage to help their campaign to stop live exports. The ABC have accepted and used such footage and been willing patsies for the Animals Australia cause. Is the footage trustworthy? I think not.

    What is shown in the footage is disgraceful, but the framing of it as being routine practice becomes highly questionable when we know the TI ‘brief’ and the AA campaign – which has lasted 8 years.

    What might an alternative explanation for its origins be? I didn’t think much about this at the time, although (as many noted) the perpetrators of the cruelty did not seem unaware of the cameras — indeed, they cast frequent glances in their direction, as if seeking approval. Almost an ‘are you getting this?’ look. It was only after some time that one report mentioned the positive impact of the ban on the (expanding) Indonesian beef industry. Now surely the local beef producers couldn’t have played any role, could they?

    Regardless, their cattle will fill any gap created by a restriction on Australian imports. Unlike the standards now required by Australia, Indonesian cattle slaughtered in the same abbatoirs, there will ne no local standards or equivalent sensitivities. The treatment of cattle will as as bad or worse. But they will not be Australian cattle. Nice result, Animals Australia!

    The politics of the warm inner glow. They have my daughter fooled, and the propaganda they send her makes interesting reading.

  44. Tony Price May 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    There are three issues here, to my mind.

    1. “Who filmed the video clip?”

    Broadcasters, especially national broadcasters, should be wary of using any material from a pressure group with an obvious agenda. Even if we assume (which we have to, despite suggestions of fakery) that the footage is genuine, is the reporting balanced? The ABC report stated that the evidence was obtained at just 11 out of more than 100 abattoirs, and also stated that it was “claimed” that Australian cattle were involved, though I’d suggest that’s irrelevant in the overall context; are Oz cattle more susceptible to ill-treatment? Government inspectors had visited many of the abattoirs, and found the conditions “generally good”. No evidence for the timing of the filming was produced; some or all of it it might have dated from months or even years before government bodies concerned with conditions at Indonesian abattoirs either inspected them, or obtained improvements. Animals Australia isn’t telling, though their silence is.

    2. The Oz government’s knee-jerk reaction to the report – a single report, and based on film produced by a pressure group, not taking into account a report by their own veterinary inspectors, taking action before informing the Indonesian authorities, without giving those authorities time to comment, let alone investigate and correct any bad practices, was near-suicidal in a political, and more importantly commercial sense. It did no-one any favours except the pressure group, not the government, not the Indonesians, certainly not Oz farmers who suddenly had tens-of-thousands of unsaleable investments on the hoof, and who suddenly out of the blue faced ruin and bankruptcy. This is shooting yourself in the foot big-time, and using a borrowed gun of dubious provenance to do it.

    3. The issue of export of live animals for slaughter. I’m agin it fundamentally. There’s no need for it, and it’s not justifiable, either in humane or commercial terms. Export value-added (I generally hate that term) meat and meat products, produced in well-regulated and hygienic premises, something Australia’s been doing for years, and doing well. There’s more profit all along the chain from farm to shop, and the same overall amount of profit can be made with less volume, and therefore fewer animals. There might be a problem if Indonesia wants to keep more of the profit-chain in-house, and would react by buying cattle elsewhere (can they, to fill the gap, and is it sheep and pigs also, anyone know?) but deals can be done, discounts for bulk can be given, and profit effectively shared equitably.

  45. John Sayers May 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    the question is?

    Who filmed the video clip of Australian cattle in the Indonesian abattoirs?

  46. Dave Shorter May 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Tony Price,
    I disagree with your third point.The villages shown looked too poor. To buy frozen or chilled beef they’d need refrigeration.It looked very third world.If people as poor as they appeared to be could buy beef and Australian producers made a bob out of it there wasn’t much wrong with the economics of it.

  47. cinders May 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    The practice of the greens supplying TV footage has been common practice in the forestry debate and is duplicated by AA and other causes. The ABC code of practice even deals with this practice.
    In a bit of a reversal, Murdoch’s ‘hate’ media screened a green activist video http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2012/04/23/321335_tasmania-news.html and the ABC showed just how how they got the footage 1 minute into this story http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-18/forest-activists/3681430
    Eg it was a staged ‘threatened species’ enticed into the area. The post holding the meat safe can also be seen in similar videos on youtube.

  48. Johnathan Wilkes May 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    cinders and others,
    the problem “we” and I really can only speak for myself here, is that we don’t anticipate skulduggery from others because we would not indulge in it ourselves.

    I can hear the howls from Luke and his alter ego bazza!!!

    Notwithstanding, I find it hard to believe people behaving in such despicable ways and distort the truth, but looking at our politicians, hey, better believe it?

  49. Schiller Thurkettle May 14, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    If these films represented true investigative journalism, the identities of the animal abusers would by now be well known, the perpetrators would be in jail, and raucous crowds would demand they be delivered over to the same cruelties they inflicted.

    This did not happen. The events filmed resulted from collusion between the camera people and the unspeakable slime (pardon the redundancy), who obviously are covering each others’ backs.

    Some innocents may wonder how all this came to pass. The simple fact is, activists are vermin. They, and their admirers, are willing to countenance anything. Environmentalists already have the deaths of millions of humans on their hands, abusing animals is just another day in the park.

  50. wes george May 14, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Dave Shorter is right.

    There are lots of positive reasons for live export.

    First is that the markets in the developing world don’t have a chilled food delivery supply chain at every step of the way. What’s more, in many places they simply don’t want it. They like their own style of markets which are evolving out of their traditions rather than ours. Some people have never gone to a Cole’s to buy plastic wrapped meat and they see that as alien. (So would you have in 1970.)

    Moreover, the kinds of cuts of meat differ from country to country, not to mention what they do with the offal, the hides, the bones. It’s all extremely culture bound stuff, none of which we can provide for here from onshore processing.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but we already do process meat products for every market that is cultural similar to ours and/or is capable of importing it, such as the US, Japan, China, Singapore, NZ, EU, etc. Even in Jakarta I’ve seen imported Australian cut meat in supermarkets that cater to well-heeled urban elites. Live export is a way of growing our marketshare into regions outside of these already established markets.

  51. Debbie May 14, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    The live export trade is subject to some quite stringent conditions.
    That includes an average weight limit that helps prevent these animals from being ‘overcrowded’ in the ships.
    I am even willing to concede that some of those stringent conditions are due to a greater awareness created by some animal welfare groups….and that is a good thing in terms of animal welfare but also in terms of finances. The % of animals that perish on the ships is actually lower than the % of animals that die in the paddock before they reach the ships.
    This particular incident however resulted in damage to perfectly legitimate and well organised practices that do in fact tap into a market that cannot afford to buy pre processed meat or for that matter do not have the means to store it.
    It did NOTHING WHATSOEVER to protect animals in Indonesia from cruelty at slaughter.

    What keeps getting missed is that not only were Australian producers punished when they were not in fact the perpetrators of this filmed cruelty, so were the Indonesian feedlotters who have developed a livelihood in Indonesia attached to our live export trade…..they are paid to finish these cattle before they are processed for human consumption.
    They were the 2 specific demographics who were forced to pay dearly by the inappopriate ‘knee jerk’ reaction from Govt. Then of course there was a rather significant ‘knock on’ effect from associated service industries…who were also not the perpetrators of the filmed cruelty.
    It appears that the actual perpetrators of the actual filmed cruelty were not punished at all?

  52. Tony Price May 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Comment from: Dave Shorter May 13th, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Tony Price,
    I disagree with your third point.The villages shown looked too poor. To buy frozen or chilled beef they’d need refrigeration

    I agree, that point occurred to me as I hit “submit”, but I let it stand as I wanted to get a reasoned reaction. I still don’t like live export though, and will never support it.

  53. Debbie May 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I don’t like ‘the thought’ of it either…especially the way it has been presented in the media.
    However….all the meat you eat (if you’re not a vegetarian) has been ‘live transported’ in some fashion before it is slaughtered for your consumption.
    The conditions on those ships are no worse for those animals….in fact often much better….than the transport methods used domestically for the domestic market and the domestic processing of meat for export.
    It is a rather unattractive part of human dietary requirements and the necessity to bulk produce.
    In general, conditions have radically improved, but ‘the thought of it’ is still not pleasant….and I don’t think it ever will be.
    We can’t forget (as unpleasant as it is) that these animals have been specifically bred for human consumption in the first place….or that the particular market involved in this instance would not be able to either buy or store meat that we slaughter in Australia…or that there is also an Indonesian feedlotting industry that benefits from this type of trade.
    But in one respect….If we’re talking only about the animals themselves….I agree with you…..I don’t like it.
    Can’t see a bulk conversion to vegetarianism happening anytime soon either….even though paradoxically….I am a vegetarian….but I realise that is my choice and I have no particularly good reason to force that choice onto others.

  54. Tony Price May 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Debbie, you have a remarkably balanced view of animal slaughter for a vegetarian. I’m impressed. I eat mea, though not that much these days, the price being what it is. I would not do so if I didn’t understand the chain from breeding to slaughter. The less time between farm and slaughter the better, in my view, both for the quality of the meat (less stress, better quality), and most importantly, for the animal. Long sea-voyages for animals penned-up in semi-darkness don’t meet that last criterion, and never can. Commercial considerations don’t and can’t cut it as a justification. Kill the animal. ship the meat. No-one ships wheat growing in earth to “growing lots” in other countries so farmers in those countries can get a bigger share of the profit.

  55. Schiller Thurkettle May 16, 2012 at 3:56 am #

    I still want to see the numbers for live animal export, specifically, that it makes more economic sense to export live animals, than to slaughter domestically and export meat.

    Live transport of nearly any duration, regardless of conditions, is stressful on the animals and reduces both weight and quality at the point of delivery. And surely, refrigeration costs less than feed, water, and losses due to ‘downers’. That’s my position unless persuaded otherwise. Note that I am not factoring in animal welfare at any point.

    I suspect, but do not know, that these animals are exported live so that they can be slaughtered at the point of delivery according to local religious requirements. If that is the case, then it is of course politically incorrect to point out that as the deciding factor.

    Besides, the customer is always correct, and one shouldn’t quibble over the preferences of his deities.

  56. Binny May 16, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Tony & Schiller
    Firstly and most animals actually gain weight during sea transport. (Chuckle – not unlike most tourists on Sea cruises after, all there is little else to do but stand around and eat) They are actually preconditioned to the rations available for some weeks before they loaded onto ships.

    Like most successful trading relationships, the live trade is mutually beneficial. Northern Australia has large areas of low fertility and relatively low rainfall country, ideal for breeding. Indonesia has small areas of high fertility and high rainfall country, ideal for finishing. To finish an animal to slaughter weight that has been bred in northern Australia, they have to be shipped 500 km to Indonesia or trucked 1500+ km to the feedlots in southern Australia.

    The exported cattle are not slaughtered immediately, the Indonesian government value adds to them, by feeding them up to slaughter weight in Indonesia. This helps the Indonesian economy and provides local employment.
    The other point is the overwhelming majority of these cattle that are a lot fed in Indonesia are then slaughtered through the new large modern abattoirs. The actual percentage of Australian bred cattle (Not Australian owned they are owned by the Indonesians we have no say) slaughtered in the poorly equipped village level abattoirs that were filmed, is very small. Also as the Indonesian economy continues to grow, and infrastructure is upgraded these small abattoirs are being phased out.

    Finally talk of an abattoir in northern Australia – This is for the purpose of slaughtering surplus cows that have reached the end of their breeding age. This produces low quality manufacturing beef, the quality of animals that are being exported wouldn’t be slaughtered in this abattoirs simply course it’s not possible to get them up to slaughter specifications in northern Australia.
    Abattoirs like this had been trialed numerous times in the past, and have failed. Mainly due to the low quality of the product, the seasonal nature of the turnoff, and the difficulty of accessing labour.

  57. Debbie May 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I usually admire your perspective on issues..because you have the enviable ability to make people ‘think outside the box’ but this time you’ve lost me entirely:

    No-one ships wheat growing in earth to “growing lots” in other countries so farmers in those countries can get a bigger share of the profit.

    You don’t seriously expect anyone to believe that is a rational or sensible comparison do you?
    Especially someone like me who is a mixed farmer and therefore grows crops and livestock for various markets?
    I respect your usual posts enough not to take this little piece of rhetoric apart….but I would seriously but respectfully request that you think about that one a little more clearly….

    BTW…I’m a vegetarian for health reasons not ‘moral’ reasons…but it is still a bit of a paradox…. because I am also a huge animal lover and have a rather impressive menagerie of pets and also do a great deal to encourage native fauna to thrive in my sphere of influence.

    I would also add that Binny is correct and this practice does indeed create benefits in Indonesia….but would add (as Binny also highlights) that isn’t the main reason why we export live cattle from Northern Australia….but…..it’s an added very good reason why we shouldn’t just arbitrarily stop it because we have overstated ‘public opinion’ fears about the welfare of Australian cattle.

    Also Tony….while distance from paddock to slaughter is a factor…..you may not realise that the stress factor that does indeed influence the quality of the meat…is not solely dependant on that factor.
    Binny explains very well why it is not a key factor in Indonesia, because those cattle are destressed (if they were indeed stressed beforehand) as they are finished off before slaughter.
    It is actually a bigger problem in Australia because cattle are indeed stressed as they’re moved around in cattle trucks….often very crowded….often in highly inclement weather…..often straight from highly stressful circumstances in saleyards….and often straight into slaughter.
    Mind you….there have been many, many improvements….but as usual….we don’t really want to think about these things…..and most importantly….we keep forgetting that these animals are specifically bred to be slaughtered for human consumption…and as you also highlighted….it has to be at an acceptable market price….and…..because of our highly urbanised population….it has to be done in bulk.
    Unless everyone is forced to become a vegetarian (which would then create a whole new raft of supply issues and environment issues and freedom of choice issues etc….) I can’t really see why the people who were punished for the ‘public reaction’ to this story were punished in this way.
    That’s the real issue I think.
    Even if there is a big problem with the way cattle are slaughtered in Indonesia….what did the Govt response do to fix it?
    Who got punished and why were they punished?
    How come the actual perpetrators of this filmed cruelty aren’t being punished?
    Who actually benefited from this huge public outcry? The cattle?
    And seriously….why is everyone sticking their noses into and, making highly questionable value judgements about a perfectly legitimate and well run business practice that provides decent people with decent livelihoods in 2 seperate countries based on the undeniable fact that people eat meat?

  58. Tony Price May 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    “You don’t seriously expect anyone to believe that is a rational or sensible comparison do you?”

    No, of course I don’t, I was indulging my sense of the ridiculous, a kind of reductio ad absurdum. I take your point about feed-lots for fattening in Indonesia. On this subject (live export, etc.), I get most of my info from the media, as do most people, and am subject to the same immediate perceptions. Research and balanced consideration may not lead to the truth, whatever that is, but at least to a more informed opinion.

    If a commission had been set up to decide on what the worst possible reaction from the Oz government might be in such a situation, they couldn’t have even imagined what that reaction would actually be, nor the consequences. Anyone can make a mistake, for a real cock-up involve a computer, and for a total disaster wind up the government and watch the reaction.

    Our government’s particularly good at over-reaction, witness our recent petrol shortage, owing to a threatened strike (that didn’t materialise) by tanker drivers, and a minister who very publicly urged motorists to fill up their tanks, and fill up a “jerry-can” as well, the latter being both illegal and risky, as the container holds 10 litres, while the limit for storage at home is 5 litres. To calm the situation, another minister then urged people not to panic, and only half-fill their tanks! Supplies dried up for days, drivers with a genuine need (including doctors, etc.) queued for hours. The more cynical (I’m one) spied a plot to divert attention from the credibility mess the government was in at the time. Result – the mess deepened

    The Oz government displayed (and displays) the reactions of a punch-drunk boxer. They don’t see the blow coming, don’t dodge it, and swing wildly in thin air while their opponent dances away and moves in to land another blow. Government either punch themselves in the face, or fall out of the ring still flailing wildly, hitting friend and foe at random, mostly friend in this case. “Do something, quick!” doesn’t make for good anything, let alone government.

  59. Debbie May 18, 2012 at 7:36 am #


    Now they’re pretending they did something.
    Notice there is still the emphasis on ‘Australian cattle’ ?
    Notice also that no one is recognising the damage they caused when they did what Tony colourfully describes above.

    Government either punch themselves in the face, or fall out of the ring still flailing wildly, hitting friend and foe at random, mostly friend in this case. “Do something, quick!” doesn’t make for good anything, let alone government.

  60. Binny May 19, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    Well put Tony; Activists are always engaging in hysterical arm waving, taking things out of context, and making mountains out of molehills.
    The media has never let facts get in the way of a good story.

    But governments are supposed to be the responsible adults, carefully weighing up all the options, and possible consequences before taking any sort of action.

    This government has set new benchmarks for truly frightening levels of incompetently.


  1. Jennifer Marohasy » Sarah Ferguson Defends Abattoir Footage of Dubious Origin - April 21, 2013

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