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Every now and then, a little shaft of light penetrates the darkness of what engulfs so much of our world today.

During the week I was so pleased to read segments of a speech given by Ken Henry to Voiceless.

Now we all know who Ken Henry is, or rather was.  Ken Henry was chief advisor to a succession of Australian governments over many years.  I always regarded him as a hard man, an economic rationalist to whom money was all important.

Boy was I wrong!!! In this speech to Voiceless he told of how he and his wife Naomi took in injured native animals.  Their very home became a temporary hospital for injured joeys, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats etc each was looked after until well and truly well and then liberated to continue their existence on this earth.  He also, loudly and clearly said “We all treat our pets with love and affection and look after them.  We should treat the animals we use for food and materials exactly the same way”.

In other words he was advocating the ethical treatment of all animals.   If people like Ken Henry think like that then there is hope for this world.

This now brings me up to the live export trade.

I used to believe, now I think naively, that all farmers loved their animals.  In other words, although they were bringing them up for slaughter there was a caring between humans and beasts that would ensure, as much as possible, animals were slaughtered as quickly and as painlessly as possible.  That meant to me that cattle, sheep, pigs etc were stunned and then slaughtered.

Over the years we have seen growth upon growth of the live animal export trade.  Almost daily we hear horrific stories of animals being slaughtered overseas in the most appalling conditions.  We hear of animals being tortured, of having their legs broken, of being shot in the legs and dragged by a rope, their eyes poked out, being stuffed in the back of cars, being buried alive in conditions we would not tolerate here in Australia.

That is, after the poor creatures have endured the trips from hell that bring them there.  Would you believe on these ships animals are piled in together with the knowledge that a certain percentage of them will die on route?  Dead animals are passed through a mincer and then cast into the sea.  Row upon row of hapless sheep and cattle have to endure a below deck environment where, hidden from view, the smell, the heat and the noise must be truly appalling.

To my mind this is an evil trade!

These are facts that cannot be denied.  Time after time stories and films have emerged of the suffering of these creatures.  These facts speak for themselves.  Every now and then promises are made about changes.  But it seems to me these changes never happen. It seems to me almost every week more facts arise which show, basically no change has happened.  Basic common sense says some of these companies should be shut down and employees charged with animal cruelty.  I wonder why none of this happens?

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Australian farmers themselves don’t rise up and refuse to participate in this trade.  But then, in a world of battery chickens and sow stalls how can we expect any different?

Animals are not economic units!  No matter how much a corporation treats them as such.  They are living sentient beings and out of respect for the very life WE have, we should treat them at the very least, as partners in the chain of life.

I feel this trade demeans us as a country.  When I hear governments or ministers defending the practice on the basis that it brings in so much money, I think “So what”!   I remember seeing a couple of farmers interviewed on a current affairs tv program, they seemed very nice people but they asked for the animals there not to be filmed because it might distress some viewers.

I rest my case!

I cannot understand why Australians would support this trade.  We know a vast majority of Australians do not want animals exported to countries that abuse them.

Last night in response to my interview with  Dana Campbell, the CEO of Voiceless, the calls coming in to my program on 2GB 873 were three to one in favour of stopping it now.

I feel it is time we draw a line in the sand on this issue.

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