Stock moves

RSPCA spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the announcement [that agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has reopened the live cattle trade to Indonesia] was astonishing, given “not one government official has stepped foot inside a slaughterhouse in Indonesia”.

That from The Australian. Further:

The director general of livestock with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, Prabowo Caturroso, said his office was ready to issue import permits for Australian cattle but would be recommending a dramatic cut in live cattle sourced from Australia. “For import permit, as soon as (the Australian government) opens export trade, I will issue it immediately, I just need to sign it,” he said.

Who spoke with Mr. Caturroso? Perhaps a journalist. Anyone else from the Australian government? Has the Australian foreign minister helped resolve the situation? Who knows?

Some of the gloom has lifted, so it seems. How much remains to be seen. Clearly the Australian Minister for Agriculture should resign. Where is Meat and Livestock Australia? Again, who knows? They, like the Minister, have a statement suitably replete with pieties.

On something called The 7PM Project, Kevin Rudd asserted:

Well, the Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has been working really hard on this, and a few of the rest of us have been talking to our counterparts in Indonesia all the way through as well. I’m headed there tomorrow night myself.

He continued:

The key thing is this: the Agriculture Minister has only reopened the possibility of export from Australia on the basis that our friends in Indonesia have confirmed their acceptance of international standards; that, secondly, that this enables us to track Australian animals all the way through what is called the supply chain; and, thirdly, that we have an auditor, independent auditor, certifying that the standards in these abattoirs that would be used are up to international standards.

They are the three conditions that we’ve set up. They’ve been agreed between ourselves and the Indonesians. That’s why the Agriculture Minister has announced this lifting of the suspension tonight.

This question followed:

Are you actually going to be inspecting these abattoirs, speaking to the government, and guaranteeing us that our cattle are going somewhere where they’re going to be treated the way they should?

After a generality the foreign minster added:

I’ll also be reviewing where we’ve got to in the implementation of the agreement which the Agriculture Minister has announced tonight, because what we want are proper international animal welfare standards.

We shall see.

Since critics of live exports such as the RSPCA will not go away, nor the equally hostile ABC (abolition being years overdue), it would be interesting to read of how some of the actors in the political drama intend in fact to proceed. No details yet. For journalists and celebrities vague generalities will do. It remains one of the most serious weaknesses of public life today that we shun any descent into particulars.

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