Submissions to Australian Senate and House of Representatives regarding livestock export and animal welfare improvements in the trade.
By Tony Ryan
THE TRUTH ABOUT LIVE EXPORT
Lobbyists, journalists, cattlemen’s associations, MLA, and various politicians, are attempting to deflect focus from many of the salient issues relating to Australia’s shameful and economically destructive live export trade.
Hereunder are the relevant factors, presented with necessary historical overview and some of the far-reaching socio-economic ramifications for rural and regional Australians, including Aboriginal communities of our far north.
Simplifying the context of this submission, I would like to advise the Committee that I currently have no pecuniary interests in primary industries to declare. Furthermore, I believe it to be in the interests of Australians that all issues surrounding live export should be exposed to public scrutiny; which, thanks to selective reporting by the media, has not happened thus far. In my opinion this has denied the people of Australia access to central and critical elements of the live export debate.
1. Halal killing is invariably cruel. Governments (Federal, Territory and State) have known the facts of halal cruelty for 18 years: that for many fundamentalist Indonesian and Arabic consumers of sheep, cattle and goats halal is intended to inflict pain, employing a slow sawing motion to cut throats, rather than the less-than-a-second two-motion movement used by Australian professionals. Halal even at its westernised and humane best incorporates a single motion that merely ensures the animal bleeds to death. In definitive difference, the western method employs a second knife stroke to sever the now exposed spinal cord. This ensures a cessation of bio electric impulses that would ordinarily transmit signals to the animal’s brain, experienced as terror and pain. This can be readily observed by any veterinarian by comparing eye reaction under both methods. Moreover, in spite of Islamic morés, regional and domestic halal knives are invariably blunt by western standards, which is a critical element in humane killing. (We should note that this is why urban domestic killing in Australia is illegal).
Even if animal rights were legislated in Indonesia, the Indonesian Government is simply too corrupt to maintain regulatory controls. With the typical one-eyed focus of all subscribers to fundamentalist religions; Christian no less than Muslim, Mohamed El-Mouelhy of the Halal Certification Authority Australia, quotes the Qoran as evidence that “one swift motion with a very sharp knife” is prescribed by Islam… utterly ignoring the overwhelming evidence of personal witnessing and video footage of the horrific opposite. In a dual act of unabashed non sequitur and argumentum ad hominem, El-Mouelhy even accused me of inciting “readers against Islam and Muslims”.
2. Australian live export harms Indonesians. Australian live export feeds only the rich in Indonesia. Indonesian farmers and their families who supply this market are being driven bankrupt by our exports and have been calling for cessation since imports began. This harms, not helps the real Indonesian people. Aid should benefit the poor of the Third World; not the privileged elite. Claims we are feeding the third world’s poor are hypocritical and entirely tongue-in-cheek.
3. Cynical MLAs, Federal politicians and cattlemen were aware of it but turned a blind eye to animal cruelty. Government warned Meat and Livestock Australia of this crisis six months ago. Crush boxes were sent as a sop to this pressure. Government at all levels knew this full well. It is widely believed that these were criminal acts that should be processed under law, as with any other acts of deliberate animal cruelty. I look forward to the day when the Presidents of the various Cattlemen’s Associations and cognizant politicians, face charges of complicity in the torture of thousands of animals.
4. Live export cost Australia 150 abattoirs and 240,000 jobs. Live export contributes little to Australia’s prosperity; only to the handful directly engaged and on stations that are often foreign-owned. Claims by Bob Katter that 10,000 Indigenous Australians are employed in the Live Export industry are figures plucked from the dusty Kennedy electorate air. A few Aborigines are employed for mustering, which at best occupies a few weeks of the year. Since the February 1968 Equal Award Wages ruling, most stations have employed all-white labour and engaged fixed wing or helicopter mustering. The Senate has a written record of this in documentation flowing from the Gibb Report which identified 3,500 NT Aborigines thus made homeless. Because of the cost-effectiveness of sardine-style animal storage, real world live export transport is also endemically cruel, in spite of public relations stunts and media releases organised by the export lobby. Worse, when animals reach their destination they may be tied down by domestic purchasers for hours or days without water and harassed by starving dogs before finally being killed in acts of horrific and indifferent cruelty.
5. As noted in (4) above, live export cost Australians almost a quarter of a million jobs: Jobs lost to this short-sighted industry included the primary tier of abattoir workers, meat packers, cattle yarders, meat inspectors, by-product processors (casein, gelatine, etc.), stock feeders and suppliers, stock agents and their support staff, animal hide cleaners, dog breeders, refrigeration mechanics, cattle yard maintainers, and blood & bone processors. Secondary tier workers who lost their jobs were transporters, knife and steel manufacturers and retailers, uniform manufacturers, packaging manufacturing, laundrymen, abattoir plumbers and electricians, tanners, butcher’s supplies, meat grading dye makers, leather workers, tanning fluid makers, stainless steel bench and table manufacturers and installers, glaziers, and carpenters. Third tier included worker and family support industries and services in banking, groceries, consumer retail, hardware, footwear, hospitals, schools, taxis, road works, TMPU council functions and local government services, postal, real estate and property managers, and many more. In other words, each abattoir supported a virtual small town. 150 such ‘towns’ disappeared, causing immense family dislocation and hardship. Whole regions were denuded of their populations and rail spurs and lines closed down. In some instances, where abattoirs have survived, Australian workers have been replaced by Section 457 Visa foreign cheap labour, in spite of local unemployment. Workers in the live export industry betrayed their fellow Australian workers in the worst possible way. In a very real sense live export is a scab industry. Social scientists have claimed that these workers and families were subsequently employed in cities, which is an outright lie. Most are still unemployed, and almost half of these families have disintegrated. I consider this to be a crime against humanity, which must one day be investigated, and those who created this appalling situation convicted and imprisoned. Nevertheless, I shall test this sentiment in my next survey.
6. Cattle farming is non-viable in the Top End. This has been widely recognised since at least 1982. Buffalo thrive where cattle starve, and the then NT Department of Primary Production urged a move to buffalo domestication as far back as 1975 (supported by the Dept of Primary Industries). Buffalo were largely eradicated by 1988/89 to please US cattle industry lobbyists (more on this later). Powerful interests in the NT’s Country Liberal Party profited immensely from compensation payments made for the buffalo eradication (BTEC) programme. Claims of buffalo damage to the northern environment were falsified, and were in fact caused by feral pigs and disastrous fire regimes executed by the Commonwealth scientists of then Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS), city-bred science graduates who also incinerated one third of Kakadu’s Northern Cypress. Evidence of dry season damage inflicted by what are always man-made fires is documented in the paper Cremating North Australia (which has been peer-reviewed and largely supported). Briefly, the practice adopted by ANPWS bio-scientists in administrative positions (ie Dr Tony Press) in the mid-1980s denuded the landscape and exposed lower wetlands and coastal estuarine regions to the intense deluges of the immediate ‘post build-up’ (early wet season), and created slush out of soils once held together by native sedges and grasses. In several of these, king tides intruded along tracks where buffalo walk daily, causing salinity in hitherto freshwater billabongs. It should be noted that 400-600 mm below ground surface there is salinity residue from the former high sea level period (one of the factors which caused the failure of the Humpty Doo Rice Project – see Bill Gunn’s epic study for the Commonwealth Government) and sea intrusion added to product of existing leaching thereby causing plant osmosis to reverse. Prior to the ANPWS regime fires, such salt water intrusion was unknown. As an avid hunter and safari operator in this region I can personally attest to this. Photographic evidence of buffalo damage in inner wetlands was in fact caused by feral pigs as they circle billabongs every morning, ploughing up water lily roots and turtles. Ironically, this catastrophic misunderstanding occurred as a result of my discussion with the then head of NT Forestry, Mike Ridpath. The above notwithstanding, buffalo meat is flavoursome, healthy, and economical to harvest whereas cattle historically was profitable in only five years out of seven. Most cattle stations were viable only because of the Ward Subsidy Payments made by the Commonwealth Government vis a vis the wider extended families of Aboriginal ringers. I suggest that members of this Senate Inquiry read the Gibb Report to gain essential understanding of the cattle industry and why viability collapsed following termination of the Ward Subsidy Payments and concomitant Equal Award Wages in the Pastoral Industry (1968). This is the real genesis of live export, with obvious alternatives eliminated by the ill-advised BTEC Programme (more on this later). However, buffalo numbers are building up to viable levels once again.
7. Alternatives. There is talk of Indonesia’s lack of refrigerators and how this justifies live export, but since 1978 there has been a plan to export dried meat and fish to Malaysia and Indonesia, exploiting the NT’s massive fish by-catch, buffalo, and feral camel and donkey populations, during the six months of perfect Top End dry season drying winds. The Federal Government has sat on this potentially lucrative industry ever since the proposal was floated (by me); doubtless under pressure from meat export lobbyists and foreign aid programme executives.
8. The Aboriginal employment lie. Claims that live export employs a significant Aboriginal population, according to Bob Katter 10,000, are simply untrue. Where there is employment it is only for the few weeks of muster. By contrast, a buffalo and dried meat/fish industry could employ and feed thousands of Aborigines in the Top End, Kimberly, North Queensland and elsewhere. Moreover, this is the kind of industry they can operate without outside interference and this can lead to economic independence and an end to Aboriginal welfare dependency. Buffalo and fish by-catch can be dried and pressed into bales (using manual wool presses and fadges/bales) and transported cheaply to existing coastal barges for shipping directly to Indonesia and Malaysia. This issue formed the central thesis of the 1982 Study into Aboriginal Urban Drift, an initiative of an NT Government Cabinet Decision, and of which I was deputy coordinator having precipitated recognition of possible solutions to town camp pressures in my discussion paper Darwin Aboriginal Town Camps, 1979. The Director of Community Development Branch of the then Department of Community Development, Bill Coburn, removed this chapter of the draft in its entirety, leaving me with a pointless research paper and my eventual resignation from the NT Public Service. I mention this now because, essentially, nothing has changed. Buffalo are still the key to Aboriginal economic independence in the Top End; along with market gardens and the servicing of these and ancillary industries (Transport, vehicle maintenance, housing, road and track maintenance, power generation; carpentry; and again supported by satellite retail, health and educational services).
9. NT Economy. Moreover, buffalo have a major contribution to make to the Top End economy per se, requiring little capitalisation and few pastoral or processing overheads. To this assertion should be added the warning that almost nothing known to most observers of, or even participants in, the BTEC programme accord with the economic-political reality, yet the entire story was common knowledge to thousands of New Zealand cattle farmers, and most especially to then Prime Minister David Lange, who probably died never knowing how Australia could have been so catastrophically snowed by this spurious US strategy to remove Australian and New Zealand beef from the US Market. I will explain this as a footnote, although it more truly should feature as a central component of main text.
10. Australia’s international reputation as a nation of decent and civilised human beings is at stake. If we fail to end live export our good name will be gone forever. This will apply particularly in the UK, the US, and in northern Europe; which will impact significantly on our foreign-sourced tourism. Germans and British are notoriously susceptible to offence in this regard.
Julia Gillard (and later PMs) will say whatever her powerful lobbyists tell her to say, and we cannot rely on her assurances that live export will only proceed on the basis of animal welfare guarantees.
If Australia is to hold its head high as a civilised nation, live export must be stopped now, forever. Moreover, many meat cattle and sheep regions of this nation can only recover economically if all killing and processing is conducted domestically.
In what is destined to become one of the great scandals of Australia’s history, unemployment is currently quoted as 4.9% (now 6+% as of 16 July 2015). This spurious figure is arrived at by abandoning the definition universally accepted since 1893, that a person is employed if he has a job that pays a liveable wage, this being the entire point of employment. Conversely, a person who does not have such a job was considered, by definition, to be unemployed. Is this definition valid today? In our 2007 survey, more than 90% of Australians chose this definition out of four optional definitions. On the basis of this definition, during the Great Depression peak unemployment was recorded at a sustained level of 15%, with a couple of sharp but temporary rises to 20%. By comparison, under deceitful and misleading new definitions incrementally introduced by Hawke, Keating and Howard, and continued seamlessly by Rudd, Gillard, and Abbott, a person is defined as employed if he or she:
· Studies, trains or works for one hour per week;
· Is the recipient of a student or training allowance of any kind;
· Is a student enrolled in secondary or tertiary education (however manipulated or pointless the purported retention);
· Is on Work-for-the-dole, or CDEP… which absorbs the 95% Aboriginal unemployment;
· Is included in any Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander educational or training initiative;
· Is documented as the recipient of any refugee or migrant assistance programme;
· And so on.
The great lie exposed
By identifying a sample full-spectrum demographic corridor, in a typical Australian urban environment, and with the inherent statistical conservatism of tourism-led prosperity, and distance from rural poverty… door-to-door surveys were conducted on the Sunshine Coast: in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. Using the historical definition to maintain critical historical continuity, it was found that real unemployment was 16%, 17%, 19% and 23%(approx.) respectively. Significantly, comparative research in the US shadowed these findings.
The conservatism of our approach (RIED, then Ryan Research) was starkly demonstrated by a similar survey undertaken by Max Walsh’s The Newsweek-Bulletin in 1999, which measured 23% unemployment even then, causing a crisis of editorial management and eventually (and presumably), the magazine’s demise. Walsh used standard social science survey techniques, yet the Bulletin exceeded our estimate of unemployment, making it clear our figures are, if anything, extremely conservative.
Our 2010 study also revealed 13% homelessness, which should be front page news but in fact our press releases and submitted articles were rejected without comment by all sectors of the media including the ABC; by academics, and by social scientists, throughout the decade of operation. I consider this to be a fair measure of corruption in Australia, and of the intimidating Murdoch influence on universities, journalists and editors. That this perception was earlier presented by John Pilger in one of his books is no coincidence. Consequently, there is a proliferation of alternative internet news media across Australia that will enable Australian citizens to finally learn about the depth of corruption in this country and familiarise all Aussies with the real collective viewpoint of the national electorate; as opposed to the twisted versions propagated by the conventional media and collaborating pollsters.
We Australians need every job we can get, and the elimination of the live export industry will create the biggest explosion in rural and urban jobs in Australia’s history. Those who stand in the way of this rescue will face the fury of families who have lost members to depression and suicide, and whose way of life was dissolved by craven political capitulation to free trade ideology, with its tariff removals, off-shoring, import of cheap foreign labour, asset sales and stripping, and regional profiteering.
There is no sound argument to support live export, and ten good reasons (above) why it should be terminated.
Destruction of the natural alternative to live export
Finally, I wish to add a footnote to this submission which for the first time tells the truth about the shoot-out of a great northern resource… buffalo. This willful destruction was justified to the public with misrepresentations and outright lies: particularly about the incidence of tuberculosis in feral herds, claimed to be 90%, but which merely recorded contact rate with feral diseased pigs; the highest real rate of TB being 4% in the Finiss River, and 2% or lower elsewhere. Then there were fabrications about buffalo impact on the northern environment; and about the true genesis of the BTEC programme (Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Eradication Campaign). There was unmitigated betrayal of Australia by officials; bribery of dissenting buffalo producers by government; and general ignorance of the relationship between the ANZAS Agreement and the US beef quota, made all the more remarkable by the prevailing knowledge of this history in New Zealand: by Kiwi farmers, by politicians, and by the general Kiwi public. For almost all Australians, this will be their first knowledge of the reason why New Zealand pulled out of the ANZUS Agreement and why all South Pacific nations, except Australia, banned (US) nuclear vessels from the Pacific.
There is every reason to believe that the Murdoch-dominated media ensured such knowledge was never released in this country. Bob Hawke’s cosy relationship with the CIA is also most significant.
A couple of years after WWII, it became obvious to the US Pentagon that Omega communications systems must be installed in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean semi-hemisphere, and that Australia and NZ were situated in the right locations. In order to gain access to these countries the Pentagon suggested an American/Australia/New Zealand defense treaty that was couched in terms that implied US protection from invasion by hostile neighbours. As Malcolm Fraser subsequently confirmed in his recent public address on the US as an ally , America had no intention of honouring such a treaty, but the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers of the day understood all too well the part America played in forcing Japan into the Second World War, and the real reasons for using nuclear bombs in Japan; knowledge that lead them to conclude that the US operated on split and covert agendas and had never honoured a treaty of the nature of that proposed. It was put to the US that a more tangible gesture of genuine cooperation was required and subsequent negotiations gave birth to the famous US Beef Quota, in which a defined tonnage of Australian and NZ beef was guaranteed import rights into America, thus obviating their tariffs.
This worked very profitably for our beef producers and for importers of US consumer goods, but with American beef producers as the sixth most powerful American lobby our intrusion on their domestic market created immense resentment, allayed only with the standby rationale of National Security, the Beef Quota being presented as the cost of keeping the 'Red Menace' at bay in the southern hemisphere.
As the likelihood of direct Russian invasion receded, it became increasingly difficult to hold US farmers over the national security barrel... that is, until a marketing genius came up with the idea of converting Australian and NZ beef to hamburger, the lowest meat price then going. As Oz and Kiwi farmers still received the premium export price they were happy, and American farmers had the premium cut meat market once again to themselves. Then something utterly unexpected happened… the fast food industry suddenly exploded and there was Australia and New Zealand occupying a monopoly hold over this record-expanding domestic American market. US beef producers screamed. Finally, the White House advised the Beef Lobby that a decisive strategy to eliminate Oz and Kiwi meat had been devised: It was announced by the US Department of Agriculture that the threat to American health of Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis was too high to tolerate, and that an intense programme of elimination of untested and feral cattle had been launched and would be completed by 1984. Moreover, henceforth, no exports of meat would be accepted from nations that had not also eradicated Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis.
New Zealand PM David Lange rolled his eyes and advised the US Ambassador that as this exclusion breached the ANZUS agreement treaty sister, the Beef Quota, then (as Omega systems were by then obsolete) no vessels or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons would be permitted into NZ territory or its protectorates.
Lange was aware that the US had no real interest in what NZ did or did not do, but he knew that Australia was host to four satellite spy, communication and navigation installations that were critical to America’s domination of the Asia/Pacific hemisphere. He was confident the US would not dare call the ANZAC’s bluff. Lange was also aware that America’s programme of TB eradication had failed, not even a dent being made in the impossibly wild country of North Dakota. Thus, he calculated, the White House was hoisted on its own petard.
There has been intense speculation about Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s relationship with the CIA, and also that of his close associates, Sir Arthur Tange of Administrative Services, Sir Peter Ables of TNT, and Australia’s CIA Director Richard Stallings; especially brought into question by journalist and author, John Pilger. In other words, we have yet to discover whether Hawke simply had no idea what he was doing, or deliberately betrayed the cattle producers of both nations; and in doing so, ANZUS. Whatever his motivation, Bob Hawke ignored the NZ Prime Minister’s manoeuvre and capitulated to the US. A shocked New Zealand had no choice but to carry out their threat and terminate the ANZUS Treaty and ban entry to US nuclear craft.
It is not known how much the Aussie taxpayer lost in terms of cost of the shoot-out of buffalo and feral cattle, or from the massive compensation to cattlemen, but official numbers alone do not tell the story. As all in the bush knew at the time, buffalo of each local region were rounded up from several stations and drafted onto a single station, which government then counted and arranged compensation for loss of this ‘important future industry’. The herd was then pushed to the next station and the count repeated, and so on. Meanwhile, as convenor of the NT Buffalo Producer’s Cooperative, I wrote to Sir Charles Gurd, who was acting Secretary for the responsible NT Department, only to be dismissed, as, he put it: I clearly did not comprehend complex issues of Government. (What was not said was that I was being punished for publicly laughing at Gurd’s earlier professionally-drafted plan to contain the Top End’s Aboriginal urban drift population with a British Raj type native village, complete with hedgerows and central policeman’s cottage).
The Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Programme continued apace.
Parallel to these events, PhD scientists whose origins were in southern cities, and who were besotted with Rhys-Jones’s lyrical Fire Stick Farming theory, decided that Aboriginal traditional fires were both extensive and annual, and commenced burning throughout national parks and, of course, beyond (there being no fire brigades on borders), especially surrounding Kakadu National Park. In 1988 alone, these fires wiped out one third of Kakadu’s Northern Cypress, including all lowland stands, before it was realised that these are a fire-sensitive species (the logistical implications for pre-historical fire regime theory has yet to occur to these messiahs of science). In any event, driven by annual steady south-eastern winds these fires continued unabated to the northern coastline; eliminating grasses that are also fire sensitive, and which take many years to recover. Thus it was that early wet season rains that fell on now-denuded coastal grasslands caused immediate soil saturation and, where buffalo walked daily, the motion of hooves thrust mud aside creating shallow gullies which enabled King tide salt water intrusion to salinate freshwater billabongs.
Those who had hunted in this region for several decades pointed out that this was a new phenomenon and would not have occurred were it not for the ridiculous pseudo-Aboriginal fires lit by rangers and scientists. These criticisms were dismissed as ‘anecdotal’, a scientific euphemism for opinions of non-scientists, which by their private definition are worthless.
At an administrative level, buffalo were also blamed for the ploughing up of billabongs, which in fact is done exclusively by feral pigs. The only damage inflicted by buffalo are the wallows they create with their horns, which are actually advantageous for turtles.
In spite of loud protests by the public, and the buffalo and tourism industries, by 1988 buffalo were eradicated west of the Arnhem Escarpment. This was achieved with helicopter cull crews, with many animals left wounded and an entire herd of horses shot within metres of an Aboriginal community, terrifying the residents.
Absolutely none of this programme was worthy of praise.
Fortunately, buffalo herds are restocking and spreading west from the Arafura swamps and a new industry is once again possible. But this time corruption in government will not be tolerated. For the first time since 1854 and the Eureka Stockade we are hearing normally conservative rural citizens using the words revolution and civil war.
It’s time to take stock.
© Copyright Tony Ryan 2018
The paper which exposes the insanity of northern fire regimes, Incinerating North Australia, is attached.
This document has been produced by Ryan Institute of Evidential Demographics (RIED), formerly known as Ryan Research.
Since 2001, RIED has provided free statistics on unemployment, homelessness; and has also revealed the real electoral consensus on current national issues, thereby exposing outrageous manipulations by media-linked pollsters.
While publicly supporting animal welfare groups in their opposition to live export, several graziers demanded to know my background and what relevance this had to the cattle industry in particular, and outback life in general. Apparently, they were somewhat mollified by subsequent insights, and it occurred to me that members of the Senate Committee of Inquiry might pose the same questions. I offer the following history, more or less cut ‘n’ paste from similar publications:
© Copyright Tony Ryan 2018
Biographical notes: The principal of RIED, Tony Ryan, commenced his working life in the cattle industry in 1961 following four years study of agricultural science, dairy science, and animal husbandry, and later worked for Dalgety as a stock agent. He commenced researching the unrealised potential of Top End rural industries after moving to the NT in 1971, including two tours of education on tropical primary industries provided by Malaysian and Indonesian farmers and fishermen. After transitioning to social sciences after graduating from the NT’s then embryonic tertiary education facility (1974), as part of his welfare officer role he conducted socio-economic research for the Commonwealth and NT governments until 1983, and in 1982 wrote about the inevitable decline of the cattle industry and recommended replacement by buffalo. He also worked in NT Aboriginal community development, is familiar with Aboriginal culture and is semi-fluent in several Aboriginal languages. His research on the potential for buffalo pastoralism as a means of generating Aboriginal economic independence, and thereby defeating welfare dependency, was repressed by the NT Government (presumably because it conflicted with the proposed BTEC programme); leading to his drift from the NT Public Service in 1983. Following completion of a 160 acre rural development project, and a two year programme of historical tropical landscape restoration for Carlton & United Breweries in Darwin, he established the ground-breaking eco-adventure tourism venture Far North Safari into Kakadu National Park, which operated successfully from 1987 to 1995. After a brief but very profitable career selling residential properties overseas, he returned to Australia to research his book, Delusions of Democracy. He is currently developing a demographic and market research service for Australian business entities who require reliable demographic pictures to study. Concomitant with this, he is assisting Indigenous homeland families of East Arnhem Land to overcome Government hostility to cultural survival and achievement of economic independence. Meanwhile, he will establish of an on-line library on the globalisation of Australia… with particular reference to the various routes by which this nation might finally regain control of its economy and destiny.