Sarah Ferguson Defends Abattoir Footage of Dubious Origin

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. As I wrote in May 2012, Australians were lead to believe that this footage, that shocked the nation, was typical of what occurs inside many abattoirs in Indonesia and that the footage was taken by Lyn White from Animals Australia [1]. However, according to British filmmakers Gem and Ian from ‘Tracks Investigations’ they were responsible for the footage that sparked massive public opposition [2]. Nowhere in the Four Corners program is the involvement of these professional filmmakers declared; activists who for a fee “offer a comprehensive global investigation and film production service to conservation, environmental and animal protection groups.”[3]

In the following email, which Sarah Ferguson from ABC Four Corners has asked me to publish, she explains that my recent column in The Land on the same topic is “mischievous” [4]. In particular she claims a first hand knowledge of the situation in Indonesia and that half the abattoir footage in the program was filmed by Four Corners.

Ms Ferguson does not explain, however, whether, any of the footage of animal cruelty in the abattoirs as shown on the program was taken by Four Corners.

Dear Jennifer,

Re your article “Tracks lead to theatre of abattoir footage”. This article must have been written without watching the program it is commenting on.

The Four Corner’s program, “A Bloody Business” is available to view on line at this address and has been at all times since the original broadcast.

You say, “the footage was not taken by Animals Australia…” and “In the Four Corners’ program we were told that the footage wasn’t taken by Four Corners or the ABC”. Both these statements are wrong. It is preposterous to say the program said the footage was not taken by Four Corners when I appear in the abattoir sequences. Lyn White from Animals Australia is also shown filming in one of the first abattoir scenes of the program.

These are the facts. Half of the abattoir footage in the program was filmed by Four Corners, half by Animals Australia.

In early 2011 Lyn White from Animals Australia brought extensive footage to Four Corners that she had just filmed in Indonesia. The footage was accompanied by a detailed scientific analysis by the RSPCA. White told us what she told the subsequent Senate enquiry in publicly available testimony that she had filmed with a fellow investigator from the UK based Tracks organisation. White brought us hours of footage, shot with two cameras, one operated by Lyn White, one by her colleague. This approach meant her footage was high quality with very good coverage of each scene. In the broadcast Lyn White describes the scenes she filmed and the experience of witnessing the cruelty in those scenes.

Having viewed their footage, Four Corners conducted its own investigation in Indonesia. The first abattoir we filmed at was Gondrung in Jakarta. I am shown in the abattoir during that sequence and throughout the program on the journey through Indonesia.

You refer to the abattoirs featured as being “rogue operators.” The abattoirs in the program are not rogue operators. We had footage of at least 13 abattoirs across the country, all of which had received recent training and supervision from the Australian live export industry. They were all using Australian supplied restraining boxes which Australian experts had taught them to use. The first abattoir we visited at Gondrung was one of the biggest mid level abattoirs in the country. It had received 6 advising/training visits from Meat and Livestock Australia in the past 14 months. Further to that we had internal industry documents referring to similar treatment of animals at these and other abattoirs. We also showed the excellent operations of a big stunning abattoir in Java to show what standards could be achieved in Indonesia.

The footage was viewed for the program by the world’s leading expert on cattle behaviour (and a regular consultant to Australian industry) who was appalled by what she saw, both the treatment of cattle and the construction of the Australian supplied equipment.

The footage was easy to get in the sense the abattoir owners allowed the filming that we showed. The abattoir owners and slaughter men did not try to hide the treatment of the animals which strongly suggests they regarded it as routine. It is offensive to suggest that I, my camera team or Lyn White would set up or cause animals to be mistreated. Once again if you had seen the program you would know this could not be the case.

The Tracks investigator worked for Lyn on her portion of the filming. It is mischievous to claim her testimonial says the filming was not her own. It does not say that.

Above all there is no substitute for watching the program, especially before writing about it.*

I trust you will correct the record.

Sarah Ferguson
[April 21, 2013]

The Four Corners program flicks from showing acceptable practice in abattoirs to truly gruesome images without any attribution of the source of the footage.

It is common practice for some animal rights activists to perform stunts, and also stage, enhance or only selectively release footage to get a particular message across to viewers.

Given that it appears Four Corners used footage from Tracks Investigations this should have been declared. But not even in the long introduction to the program given by Kerry O’Brien is mention made of the involvement of these professional filmmakers and animal rights activists. These are filmmakers who appear to have been commissioned by Animals Australia to travel to Indonesia to get the footage that was subsequently passed on to Four Corners and incorporated into the ABC TV program that resulted in the suspension of live cattle export to Indonesia.

If Ms Ferguson and ABC Four Corners are serious about clarifying the situation then they must at the very least provide us with a scene by scene breakdown of the origin of the footage shown in the program. If Ms Ferguson and the ABC now release complete details of the location and date of each scene, this will assist a public assessment of the veracity of the evidence presented. Failure to comply with this request would suggest there is a lack of transparency in the process leading to the acquisition of the visual evidence broadcast in the program.

According to Scot Braithwaite, an Australian who works in feedlots and abattoirs in Indonesia the Four Corners program showed ‘expert manipulation’. In a letter from Mr Braithwaite that I published in June 2011 he claims to have witnessed thousands of animals slaughtered in Indonesian abattoirs and that 98 per cent of the time the kill is quick and without fuss [5].


*Contrary to this false claim from Sarah Ferguson I have watched the program and read the transcript.


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

2. Tracks Investigations, Annual Review 2011-2

3. Tracks Investigations – “the eco spooks”,
viewed April 21, 2013

4. Tracks lead to theatre of abattoir footage, The Land, 11th April 2013, page 22

5. Asking for a Fairgo for Live Export: Scot Braithwaite

6. The quote from Lyn White presented above as green text in the breakout box is from the Tracks Investigations website… downloaded today.


44 Responses to Sarah Ferguson Defends Abattoir Footage of Dubious Origin

  1. davefromweewaa April 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,
    Keep at it.If Sarah Ferguson has not investigated where Animals Australia’s money ended up then she has no business attempting to smear you.How can we be sure that none of the Dollars A.A. paid to Tracks didn’t end up as Rupiah in the pockets of the perpetrators of the cruelty depicted?
    Follow the money!

  2. jennifer April 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Sent to me by email the following information…

    “Senator Back estimated the program showed about 15 minutes of abattoir footage, of which he could identify only about 35 seconds of filming in abattoirs using stunning prior to slaughter.

    He was able to identify three minutes and 40 seconds of footage as being shot by the ABC.

    Senator Back said he was unable to attribute another two and a half minutes of footage to any particular source, leaving about nine minutes most likely provided by Animals Australia – which gathered about 11 hours of vision from 11 abattoirs during a visit to Indonesia in March.”


  3. spangled drongo April 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Good work Jen. The ABC need to be held to account over this. They have done a lot of damage to a lot of people.

    There are signs that Indonesia now will reverse their restrictions caused by this incident but it has been little more than economic terrorism for Australian cattle producers as well as an infliction on Indonesian consumers.

  4. Jo Bloomfield April 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Hi Jen. My congratulations, you got a reply from Sarah, heck of a lot more than I managed. I wrote to 4C, pester them a number of times. I had questioned their editorial policies. All I got was few replies from management. Very good points you have raised and I believe they need to be answered. regards Jo

  5. Luke April 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Completely unclear Jen – so are you saying that footage is in someway contrived, incorrect, setup or bogus.

    Or are you complaining about incorrect attribution of the footage to the filmaker(s)..

    You only have to Google MLA and the issue to find there’s plenty of concern. Haven’t seen any forthright denials?

    Nice attempt at diversion !

  6. Robert April 21, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Clear attribution, as well as more names, dates and other details for the criminal treatment of these animals would have been possible, and would certainly have been necessary before one could call anything a “report” rather than “reality splatter”. Serious investigators could achieve these standards, but not the ABC. That’s because their reportage is trash and their research is trash. In Animals Australia it seems as though they have found some trash buddies.

    Solemn music and earnest sounding voiceovers don’t make the ABC any less trashy than the trashiest of the commercials. I don’t watch Tracy Grimshaw and I don’t watch the equivalent junk on the broadcaster I am forced to fund. In particular, the ABC’s use and misuse of film footage is worthy of Ed Wood…except nobody forced the Australian public to invest money in Plan 9 From Outer Space.

  7. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    I find this kind of article intriguing. Clearly Jen you are an apologist for the farming industry and cannot countenance any possibility that harming animals is immoral.

    Now, personally I am not a vegetarian and I am something of a realist, but I am also an intelligent and observant person (well I think so anyway). Through the agency of my wife’s views on the world I have over many years thought quite deeply about the notion of animal rights and I find myself in the difficult position of having to agree with the views of the animal rights activists.

    Now, you can play all the twisting turning games you like, but it is a fact that people by and large do not give animals the same rights or even the same consideration as human beings. In fact, I suspect that the vast majority, especially in non-Western nations, see animals as purely a resource and a resource of limited sentience.

    That animal farming and slaughter is conducted in completely unacceptable ways is normal human behaviour and to try to suggest as you seem to in this article that the claims of activists is somehow invalidated because, gasp, they may not be as pure as the driven snow is completely disingenuous and more likely mischievous.

    For Heaven’s sake, you only have to observe the behaviour of humans to other humans to see that we have an unusual propensity to industrial scale cruelty and debasement. That it happens to animals all the time is beyond doubt.

    And now that in the West we have elevated eating to an entertainment, even an artform, it should come as no surprise that the massive scale farming of animals leads to their commoditisation and subsequent immoral treatment.

    Personally, if i could stop it tomorrow I would and if that’s wearing my heart on my sleeve so be it. At least I am honest about it.

  8. davefromweewaa April 22, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Graeme M,
    Don’t forget that exploiting images of cruelty has been rewarding for Sarah Ferguson and Lyn White in terms of acclaim and influence.

  9. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    If dave by that comment you mean to imply that Lyn White is campaigning for animal rights purely for personal agrandisement, I suggest that you are quite wrong. But even if she were, what of it?

    The point I and she are making is that inhumane treatment of animals is a routine practice in some (I actually suspect most) abattoirs. We have production line slaughter and it’s practiced by people who haven’t the education or skills or opportunity to do a better class of work. Add in that most if not all are probably male and you have a recipe for excatly that. Watch blokes in any production line situation who aren’t under close supervision. For example baggage handlers at an airport.

    And realistically it will probably never change, even here in Australia. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting the good fight. What I am always surprised by is the desire to paint people who have a genuine desire to improve life as somehow contemptible, when in fact it is the industry and government that permit and indeed condone that behaviour that are contemptible.

  10. jennifer April 22, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Hi Graeme

    I don’t condone the mistreatment of animals. But I would suggest the ABC program was a hatchet job on that industry.

    Reporting was not fair or balance and the source of footage not declared. I would not be surprised if Tracks worked with the abattoir workers to get the images they were commissioned to provide. We simply don’t know because the Tracks film makers, probably the key source of footage, were not even interviewed.

    You might also call me an apologist for whaling. As current undertaken by the Japanese the industry is both sustainable and humane.

    However, ABC Four Corners chooses to ignore the unsustainable and in humane harvest of dugongs in Australian waters. Shame.

    As a nation we seem increasing keen to go overseas and tell people about what is right and wrong while ignoring injustices in our own land.

  11. Debbie April 22, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I do not condone cruelty to animals.
    However, humans are not unilaterally vegetarians and humans are no longer nomads.
    The only reason these animals are bred are for human consumption.
    They are not bred as pets or human companions.
    Australians are lucky to be able to choose a vegetarian lifestyle if they wish. That is not the case for much of the rest of the world.

  12. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Jen, the phrasing you use shows your bias. “I would not be surprised if Tracks worked with the abattoir workers to get the images they were commissioned to provide. ” Not being surprised is a long way from having evidence that something is so. You’ve made an assumption based on a particular world view. Your world view is evident in other posts, eg the sustainable rhino farming one.

    “As a nation we seem increasing keen to go overseas and tell people about what is right and wrong while ignoring injustices in our own land. ”

    But the case in point is exactly about what happens in our land. Live animal exports to nations that do not practice humane treatment is the issue. It is OUR nation’s choice to do that and we defend it because it’s an ‘industry’ and provides some people with a livelihood. But having a livelihood is no argument for continuing an immoral practice. You might as well argue that drug traders have a livelihood, but at least there we mostly agree that is immoral and illegal.

    As for ignoring other practices such as dugong farming, yes I agree. But you have to start somewhere. Believe me, activists like Lyn White do a lot of work across a whole lot of such issues, but there is only so much that can be done. Personally I have more admiration for people like Lyn and Jill Robinson who dedicate their lives to doing right than any number of industry bodies or politicians who defend the indefensible because it makes money.

  13. Jennifer Marohasy April 22, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Hi Graeme

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. You, and also Luke in this thread, make some good points.

    And yes we all have a world view, mine happens to be libertarian.

    I am very much against the arbitrary imposition of illogical and irrational values on others…

    Which brings me to your suggestion that the drug trade is immoral. I disagree.

    As regards the use of drugs. Australia is fast becoming a nation of drunks. Yes, alcohol is a legal and addictive drug. I don’t suggest we go in for prohibition, in fact there are logical reasons for legalizing cocaine, heroin etcetera.

    Perhaps apply an appropriate tax though, including on alcohol, based on its cost to the community.

  14. Robert April 22, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Thanks to trashy, sensationalist reportage and the ABC’s dismal standards in just about everything, I can’t pass an informed judgement on abattoirs in Indonesia. I’ve seen plenty of mistreatment of animals in Spain, far less in Australia. I don’t boycott aviaries, zoos etc and I understand they bring certain benefits, but I hate the bloody things. A healthy animal enduring death in an abattoir at the end of a life in the paddock is fine by me…but caged animals? That’s like me being locked in a room watching funereal Melbourne comedians on the ABC and not being able to leave or turn the TV off.

    If anyone wants to lobby for better transport and killing conditions I’m with them. I dare say Jen would be. I just want to object to this: “We have production line slaughter and it’s practiced by people who haven’t the education or skills or opportunity to do a better class of work. Add in that most if not all are probably male and you have a recipe for excatly that.”

    Quite a few of my neighbours are abattoir workers, supervisors and meat inspectors. They value their jobs and they are smart, positive types. There are employed drongos in my area, most connected with government fiddles (hint: Power Results Insulation, certain massively overstaffed vegetation contractors) but if there are drongos in our meatworks and abattoirs I have not met one of them. It’s rough work, obviously, but these people have standards and work hard. In fact, my abattoir friends are particularly adventurous, with plenty of hobbies and interests. Maybe it’s the protein?

  15. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Jen, does Libertarianism require abandoning moral principles? Do you for example advocate letting market forces manage schoolroom behaviour?

    Debbie, this article and thread is not about vegetarianism though I am happy to engage on that. It is about accepting live export as a fine thing regardless of what happens to those animals, and the pillorying of those who stand up and say that it is not OK. If you have something to offer in respect to how you justify live export and the subsequent inhumane treatment of animals, go for it. Or offer some concrete evidence that the video footage in question was actually ‘staged’.

    Robert. I was referring to abattoir workers in other countries. But I will stand corrected as I don’t personally know any. However I have observed plenty of people in varying jobs in Australia who aren’t especially sensitive characters.

    “Maybe it’s the protein?” Again, this is not about vegetarianism, it’s about an immoral practice. And casting those who argue against it as the ones who are corrupted.

  16. davefromweewaa April 22, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Okay then Graeme,
    Does that mean the cause is so is so virtuous that it doesn’t matter if the cruelty was incentivised ?
    In my opinion it was a cowardly, Pearl Harbour like king hit on decent Australian producers and poor Asian consumers.I don’t recall any call from AA or 4corners for punishment for the actual perpetrators of the cruelty.
    Is all that OK by you Graeme?

  17. Robert April 22, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    “However I have observed plenty of people in varying jobs in Australia who aren’t especially sensitive characters.”

    Gosh, Graeme, it’s a naughty old world, isn’t it? Still, if the preening, condescending misanthropes of the ABC are examples of sensitivity, I’ll take the roughies every time.

    But you are right that we need better standards in animal treatment. If you can make an animal happier with some organic procedure, do it. If you can make an animal happier using a chemical manufactured by a multinational conglomerate…then do that! I treat myself with aloe vera, comfrey and petty spurge from the yard or paddock. And I also treat myself with modern chemicals. What the hell! If I have a prob, I grab something that might work. Where you and I may agree: animals need to suffer less and humans need to take charge of that.

    We need lots more livestock and grazing across this continent, but far better managed with greater flexibility for the changes in climate that Kidman knew all about. Dying of thirst in the middle of nowhere is one of the worst things that can happen to a human or animal. Compared to that, an abattoir is the Ritz. One can dream of abandoning the “environment” to “nature”. If that happens, a whole bunch of ferals can do the breeding, competing, suffering and perishing. The ABC won’t care. Money, water, infrastucture, hard profits, chemicals, fire controls, a happier partnership between synthetic and organic…all these things will do more for animal welfare than anybody’s good intentions. Oh, and shoot the wild dogs.

    As to why my abattoir worker mates seem more dynamic than the average: most of them sit down to a slab of meat every night, probably with the proverbial three veg, like even poor Aussies used to do. Meat is a wonderful thing. Like with dentistry and electricity, our society needs to find a way to make it general and affordable.

  18. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    dave, again I ask you to offer the evidence that there was some ‘incentivisation’.

    Jen has claimed that full disclosure was not made and has cast that as some kind of

    evidence that the video footage was somehow staged for purpose. I am not saying it

    wasn’t, I am asking for the evidence. If we have it, then we can discuss whether it

    was OK to do that. As far as I can see, Jen’s claim rests on nothing more than that

    Lyn White sought the assistance of professional photographers with a sympathy for

    the cause at hand.

    Now, let’s assume for a moment that some level of staging did occur. That still

    sheds little light on the fundamental issue. Can we guarantee that animals exported

    to other nations will not suffer inhumane or even barbaric treatment? Is that sort

    of treatment actually occurring?

    It seems to me that from what I have read and heard, it is. And that video footage

    serves to illustrate that. Regardless of its actual integrity, is it highlighting a

    real issue? What do you think? Do you genuinely believe that the receivers of our

    exported animals in Asia and the Middle east will all do their utmost to treat each

    animal as carefully and humanely as possible?

    I am saying we cannot guarantee that even in Australia, so we have Buckleys of doing

    so in foreign nations. But at least here, we have some chance of influencing things.

    So, if there is a strong chance, and I argue there is, that animal we live export

    will suffer, what is our moral duty in respect to that trade? Or is money,

    ‘livelihoods’, business, so important that we can be morally derelict?

    Robert, again you try to distort the argument with smart alec references to vegetarianism. Look, I am trying not to argue that case, I am simply trying to show that treating animals with compassion, even if we must kill them, should be a worthy cause. But I will note that your abattoir workers, and most of us, don’t sit down to eat what we actually need for sustenance. Rather, we enjoy our fast food, our burgers, our cullinary delights. We have made eating into an entertainment and we raise, mistreat and kill far more animals than we need to. Shouldn’t we at least try to do so with something approaching honour, when we treat their lives so trivially?

  19. Robert April 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Graeme, I can only assume you did not read my comment, which contained no smart alec references to vegetarianism and was replete with positive suggestions re animal welfare and a better human diet (as enjoyed by the abattoir workers of my acquaintance because they have access to good meat). As to sustenance versus culinary delights, for me there is no distinction. I don’t want to become one of the infirm souls who eats by dogma or fad. Stomach and palate will guide me. Being in a remote situation with vegetarian neighbours, I eat beans, lentils, lacto-fermented foods etc daily, but I don’t treat these things as health food, snobbish statements or edible flagellation. I prepare and eat them with the same relish as I eat good fresh meat.

    Everyone here wants a better deal for animals. Where is the argument? Who is contradicting you on this point?

    Some of us would like to put the ABC out of its misery, thus ending a long tradition of pouting, patronising, matronising, posturing, condescension – and airhead journalism so trashy it would make multiple Willesees blush. Is that a cruel thing?

    Maybe there’s another Robert commenting here, invisible to my browser?

  20. Luke April 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Jen – interesting that you have picked up on an animal welfare issue as some years ago you declared that animal rights wasn’t a blog issue. Not complaining just noting that the philosophical discussion has broadened.

    Did the ABC do a hatchet job? Well some of us may be pre-disposed to want to believe that.

    However is not the MLA’s subsequent reaction telling. And of course we may pity the poor sheep sent to Middle East (or do you think those scenes were also paid for?).

    Your comment above was ” I would not be surprised if Tracks worked with the abattoir workers to get the images they were commissioned to provide.” now on an evidence based blog – not surprised seems to indicate an already formed opinion.

    Isn’t the real issue as B Katter suggested – the industry pays levies to make sure these stuff-ups don’t happen. Why settle for second grade practice when you can simply sort these issues out with modest technological improvement. Similar (and let’s not get diverted) with sugar cane and nitrrogen fertiliser – why would a producer not be using the optimum instead of maxiumum amount. Why settle for second rate practice in animal welfare and environmental practice when an economically effective, environmentally sensitive, publically acceptable and practical alternative is easy.

    Indeed animal producers themselves were distressed that they would produce an A grade meat export product in Australia to have it mistreated at the other end.

    Do libertarians endorse slavery? Child workers. Child soldiers? Where do “irrational thoughts” start and stop. Whose morality?

  21. davefromweewaa April 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    The allegation about Indonesian abattoir workers receiving payment for the acts of cruelty was made in the Senate at one stage.It was denied by AA ….as they would whether it happened or not.What arouses suspicion is that AA contracted Tracks to help them get images of cruelty.It seems that AA wanted images of cruelty for their campaign.That they created and exploited images of cruelty for their own purposes is not in doubt.
    That is why I sugested following the money.
    How much did AA pay Tracks?
    Who did Tracks pay ?
    The mistreated cattle are not the only victims in this scandal.

  22. Robert April 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Before anyone gets too keen on the idea of Australia’s north as a massive processing and refrigeration centre for the nation’s produce (the kind of thing that appeals to my 1950s mentality), it’s important to remember what kind of government Australia presently has, and what effect the GetUp/Green Left and the Fairfax-perusing classes have had on the country over recent years. This from a recent Tassie Examiner:

    “TASMANIAN business and industry have been slammed by cost increases of up to 400 per cent to re-gas commercial refrigeration equipment since the introduction of the carbon tax last year.

    “Northern refrigeration mechanic Miles Clark said yesterday that it had taken a long while for people to realise the extent of the cost increase.

    “‘It’s only when people go to re-gas that they find out how the costs have gone up,’ Mr Clark said.

    “Several customers who needed new gas supplies after breakdowns in recent weeks had been shocked by cost hikes between 100 and 400 per cent.

    “A seafood operator who paid $40 to $45 a kilojoule before the introduction of the carbon tax paid $165 a kilo to re-gas.

    “A commercial orchard that had to replace 136 kilos of gas after a breakdown and would usually have paid between $4000 and $5000 was hit with a bill for $20,000, Mr Clark said.”

    Needless to say, the seafood guy and the orchardist are not able to say it themselves. I have heard similar reports from the mouths of business owners, and one local food business with which I am well acquainted is currently working with defective fridges. Their Coca Cola fridges will be okay, since the Coca Cola company can absorb costs a lot better than their outlets. (As our Green Betters love to say…Big Business is on board!)

    Refrigerate the Great North? Just keeping a cut sandwich cool in a Port Macquarie take-away is a big enough achievement these days.

  23. Debbie April 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    For someone who claims to be something of a realist, I find your unrealistic view of Jennifer’s points perplexing.
    Also note that it was you who invoked ‘vegetarian’ first at this post, albeit claiming that unlike your wife, you are not a vegetarian.
    I raise livestock Graeme and I can assure you that we do not condone cruelty or mistreatment to animals and nor do our peers.
    As Dave points out. . . those particular cattle in that particular footage were far from the only victims in this episode.
    As Robert points out. . . your attempt to ‘stereotype’ people who work in agriculture, livestock and abbattoirs is also based on assumptions and not evidence.

  24. Luke April 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Robert –

    “Before anyone gets too keen on the idea of Australia’s north as a massive processing and refrigeration centre for the nation’s produce (the kind of thing that appeals to my 1950s mentality), it’s important to remember what kind of government Australia presently has, and what effect the GetUp/Green Left and the Fairfax-perusing classes have had on the country over recent years. ”

    Well in about 5 months time you won’t have that anymore ….

    OK Fairfax classes may peruse but they’ll be out voted?? They’ll be hurt of course – are you looking forward to being hurt – I am – nothing like some S&M.

    Opposition leader Tony Abbott has conceded that some of the actions of an incoming Coalition government would ”hurt” people, but vowed that voters will have advance warning before the September 14 election.

    Read more:

  25. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    Debbie, Jen’s post has a clear agenda. She is casting doubt on the ABC, the integrity of Animals Australia and in particular Lyn White, and raising the suspicion that because Tracks is a ‘professional’ business they are inclined to questionable practices.

    In making those claims, Jen is evidencing her own attitudes to the issue. This is not an objective assessment of the case. Now that’s fine as she has every right to do so. However, I question how valid Jen’s bias is. And by extension, your own.

    If exporting living sentient beings to foreign lands exposes those beings to unnecessary cruelty and hardship, why do we continue to do it? I asked the question earlier and no-one has responded. How confident are you that the animals we export are treated properly?

    There are terrible practices all over the world that cause immense suffering to animals of all sorts. And livestock farming is definitely responsible for some of this. Maybe Debbie your business is careful not to harm the animals you raise. But can you be so sure this does not happen elsewhere? Are you really going to tell me that all of those videos, photos, reports, eye witness accounts all over the world, and yes, here in Australia, are some sort of put-up job by nutcases?

    The truth is that it happens, and it happens far more often than you are willing to admit. Why is it so bad for those who care to try to bring this to the public attention? Why is it bad to want to make the world better? Why is live export OK?

    Answer me this Debbie. If you were shown, if you came to accept, if it were indeed true that animals exported from Australia were highly likely to suffer cruel inhumane treatment, would you still defend a farmer’s right to export live animals? No prevarication or caveats, just answer that question as it’s posed. Yes or No.

  26. Robert April 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Luke, I hope you read the bit about refrigerant gases. No doubt the mess is being caused by price-gouging pixies, but, I dunno, I’ve got a thing about degrading the major amenities of a civilisation. I’m funny that way.

    But don’t mind me. Just get your leather and your groove on. For music…what else? No Whyalla Wipeout!

  27. Bob Fernley-Jones April 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    There was an interesting and relevant article in The Australian today by Nick Cater entitled:

    The radicalisation of the ABC

    Unfortunately The Australian is behind a subscription charge now, and I’ve not had time to check-out other sources. I think that part of Nick’s message is that ever blossoming university types have formed radical group-think attitudes in recent decades that include that they think they know better than ordinary people and are now running the ABC.

  28. sp April 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    “For music…what else? No Whyalla Wipeout!”

    Oh, how sadistic of you

    I think it reasonable to question the motives of those “who for a fee “offer a comprehensive global investigation and film production service to conservation, environmental and animal protection groups.””, and those who procure their services. Greens can be greedy too – nothing like a “best seller” to fill the coffers.

  29. cinders April 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Just who paid for the Lyn White’s trip to Indonesia and the engagement of the fee for service ‘investigators’. It appears to be none other than a multi milllionaire currently causing havoc in Tasmania’s timber industry. see the ABC own Australian story
    Four Corners has a very poor record in presenting stories about saving the forest, (see Ticky Fullerton’s Lords of the Forest or Mark Colvin’s The Wood for the Trees ) and seems to have learnt nothing about being offered stories including video evidence from environmental groups. You would think by now they would know to ask who pays and ensure that balance is the number one priority.

  30. Mark A April 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Graeme M

    If you were shown, if you came to accept, if it were indeed true that animals exported from Australia were highly likely to suffer cruel inhumane treatment, would you still defend a farmer’s right to export live animals? No prevarication or caveats, just answer that question as it’s posed. Yes or No.

    Nice trick Graeme although not at all unusual used by activists all the time.

    While you have absolutely no proof that this practice is widespread you assume it is and base your question
    on that assumption.

    Sorry it is up to you to prove that it is in fact widespread and happens regularly at all places we export to.

    As things stand at the moment, and I don’t speak for Debbie or anyone else, yes I am happy with live animal export.

    Just an aside, I think your emotions and your freely admitted family influences are taking over a bit here.

    And also, I can very much believe that animal rights activist do get up to mischief and not averse to a bit of
    deception to achieve their aims, plenty of past examples in all field of activism.

    Does secret women’s business rings a bell?
    Sea Shepherd shenanigans?

  31. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    No trick Mark. I guess I am not expressing myself well enough. Look, all I am asking is whether all of you who are finding the activists at fault here are saying that it’s OK for animals to be mistreated for our pleasure. I’m trying to pose a simple question to establish what you think, or more exactly, if you actually do think. It’s weird to me that the automatic presumption is that people trying to do good are somehow suspect.

    If you did care about the welfare of the animals, would you not be interested in establishing the veracity of the claims? Rather than shooting the messengers?

    What the hell does it matter if a millionaire paid for the investigation, or if the filming was done by a professional? What matters is if what they report is true. So, do you know if it is or isn’t? And I am not arguing that it is necessarily widespread, I am saying that if the chances are high that animals will be mistreated, then we should not do it. And the evidence to hand is that it IS happening.

    And yes, I am not afraid to admit some level of emotion. Why would you think that emotion, or a sense of moral integrity, should be absent? That’s the whole point for heaven’s sake. That we are in the position where we get to call the shots over millions of fellow beings and maybe we should care just a little bit about how we do that.

  32. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Actually, now we’ve raised the matter of emotion… What’s everyone’s opinion about animal experiences. Do you for example regard the experience of life and the world largely the same for a cow, a sheep, an elephant, a person? Or do you see there is fundamental difference.

    I don’t mean in terms of say intelligence, but more in sensing. Do you think animals feel pain as we do, feel happiness or fear as we do, imagine how something might feel much as we do? Or do you think that somehow, we are just different, somehow separate from all other life?

  33. sp April 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    “What the hell does it matter if a millionaire paid for the investigation”?

    How do we know it is “true” if it was paid for? Who knows why they paid for it?

    Maybe the millionare has his own agenda?

    All we “know” is the ABC story and I think the point is that that there was no attribution or reference to “payment”.

  34. Robert April 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    “Look, all I am asking is whether all of you who are finding the activists at fault here are saying that it’s OK for animals to be mistreated for our pleasure.”

    The answer is no.

  35. Graeme M April 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    “How do we know it is “true” if it was paid for?” Is it more or less true if it were not paid for? The point is, we should like to find out if it IS true. And AA seem to have evidence to hand that it is. Shouldn’t we try to establish the bona fides of the allegations, rather than making the presumption that it is not because AA tried to undertake a professional investigation?

    “Who knows why they paid for it?” Maybe to do it well. To try to actually deliver a professional investigation so they wouldn’t be criticised for another shoddy, blurry unverifiable side story. maybe to try to bring the issue home to people. Maybe for honest reasons.

    I am not saying any of that is the case. But I think the desire to paint the case in as poor a light as possible speaks volumes of any desire to know the truth about the allegations.

  36. davefromweewaa April 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    The people doing good (and I mean actually doing good) in this case were Australian producers providing affordable food for truly poor people in Asia. The cruelty to animals depicted on 4Corners is obviously not neccessary or desirable for food provision.
    It is not clear whether animal welfare is a means or an end for AA.
    It is clear that they couldn’t give a rats proverbial about the consumers or the producers.

  37. Graeme M April 23, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    dave, I think I’ve said my piece and to go much further would be flogging the proverbial. I guess I can’t speak for AA but I have had some involvement in their activities. From that I’d observe that all I have met are genuine caring people with a genuine desire to do good. Some are pretty weird I’ll grant you, but then most people are a bit nutty.

    Their point, and mine, is that cruelty does happen. And that 4 Corners episode endeavoured to show that it is considerably more so in the case of animals slaughtered overseas than it is in Australia, and that we have a moral duty to ease that suffering.

    I asked the question about animal experience because it is my firm belief that animals such as cattle DO experience the world much as we do. They are exactly the same biological mechanism. The only difference is our higher cognitive abilities. So, packing creatures who feel the world as we do onto trucks and boats in itself is a cruelty – you can’t tell me you’d enjoy that. Then to suffer the transport itself and be met with quite brutal handling at the end of the journey before being killed in a sloppy and uncaring manner is quite a lot worse than anything you or I have to face. Yet humans did do this to one another once. It was called the Holocaust and we recall it with a shudder as a blot on our moral history.

    Yet we think that’s a fine thing to do to animals.

    Look I accept the world is what it is and life consumes life. But what we do now with our large scale industrialised farming is not what nature intended. Yet we must do it. Why can we not do it the best way we can to alleviate suffering? Have any of you ever just spent a few minutes contemplating the experiences of those animals? Of course that’s an emotional request, but animals are not unfeeling automata there for our use regardless of how that use might play out.

    My view is that the practices depicted in that report almost certainly occur daily. And I think it probably happens with alarming regularity in Australia. I don’t think we have a duty to transport live animals to third world nations of questionable cultural practices to alleviate hunger. That’s a bullshit excuse aimed at justifying local industry from making a buck. And it’s a shame that making money always comes first. But it is what it is. More to our shame.

    And now my poor dead horse has been flogged once again… 🙂

  38. davefromweewaa April 23, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    “Yet we think that’s a fine thing to do animals”
    Not just flogging a dead horse Graeme, beating up an army of strawmen of your own making.
    Not one of the entries on this thread is condoning the gratuitous cruelty shown on 4Corners.
    We just want the truth about it’s origins.

  39. Debbie April 23, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Dave is correct.
    You are constructing inappropriate and highly emotional arguments with yourself:
    ie: strawmen.
    NOT ONE commenter here has said cruelty is OK or fine or anything similar . . . NOT ONE!!!!!!
    You also appear to wish it wasn’t necessary for humans to raise livestock for human consumption.
    That is far from being ‘something of a realist’.

  40. spangled drongo April 23, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    As someone who has killed and butchered hundreds of domestic animals of all sizes, ages and [most] types [even horse meat], branded, castrated, removed ovaries, muelsed, lambmarked [with my teeth in traditional fashion ☺], dehorned mature bulls etc, I can sympathise with Graeme’s attitude but 99% of people involved in the processing of domestic animals always try to do the right thing by those animals and are extremely aware of any suffering.

    I have always thought that the commercial shooting of ‘roos by spotlight was possibly the most humane way to slaughter an animal.

    Australia was always going to have some problems with a country killing their large livestock that they probably hadn’t handled in any quantity before but when this arose it was an easily rectifiable problem and didn’t need the knee-jerk reaction from green ideology and a stupid govt that we got.

  41. Debbie April 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I agree SD,
    It was inappropriate and unnecessary.
    The knee jerk reaction only managed to punish the wrong people in Australia and Indonesia.

  42. kuhnkat April 25, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    Little Lukey,

    are you referring to Halal or Kosher practices??

    If so, you need to study biology and physiology. Cutting the carotids stop blood to the brain with unconsciousness coming quickly with little stress, comparatively. Obviously different people can make a mess of this causing more stress.

    Do you plan on legislating and regulating every single detail of every single persons’ and animals’ lives in your Authoritarian future?!?!?! Where will you find enough people who can live on nothing to enforce it?? Oh yeah, computerized DRONES!!!

  43. Crabby May 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    What nutcase came up with the “doctrine” thou shalt kill Humanely?!
    We are Humans and not the Animals and we have the Authority from
    the Lord to kill any animal in any way we like. I suppose the Bleeding
    Hearts Fraternity got together and said “let’s influence (lobby) the
    Government to stop these Barbaric methods of Killing Animals”.

    That Authority notwithstanding, we should not cause unnecessary
    suffering to Anyone or Anything because that just shows our Attitude
    to everything. It should not be a Law though instituted and supervised
    by our beloved Governments Worldwide. It should just be a matter of
    conscience! I’m glad I don’t work in the Meat Industry because of all the
    Laws that I suppose have been dreamed up by the Lawyers and Guv’s.

    In this case I say that the Law is an ass. For anyone’s info I am a carer
    for my wife at home in Western Australia.


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