WA livestock transporters call for activist accountability

Questions raised over payments for whistleblower footage on live-export ships

WA livestock transporters call for activist accountability
Andy Jacob


With the live export trade remaining a vexed issue, leading to heightened concerns for transporters, little has gone their way in what has become public relations war with animal activists.

Now negative headlines now directed to the trade’s critics and Western Australia’s Livestock and Rural Transport Association (LRTAWA) has been able to prosecute it case with more ballast.

Revelations that animal activists offered cash inducements to workers on live export vessels to provide vision of sick and dying animals, if accurate, highlight the lack of integrity some of these groups have, according to new LRTAWA president Andy Jacob.

 "There have been many suggestions over the years that money has changed hands in return for damaging footage and it is disappointing the authorities have not followed the claims up and exposed them if they were proved," Jacob says.

"Without that level of independent scrutiny, all footage must be viewed with scepticism.

"Most of us agree that the welfare of animals on board live export vessels is paramount, however, it is the height of hypocrisy for activists to claim concern for animals when they deliberately create a scenario that is likely to lead to poor outcomes for animals.

"There is an alarming element of the ‘end justifying the means’ in the activist’s desperation for negative photographs.

"It would be naïve to think that offering large sums of money to workers from poor countries would not result in them going to extra lengths to obtain footage.

"This careless disregard for the short-term welfare of animals is often repeated when activists enter intensive farming operations, dairies, abattoirs and approach livestock vehicles.

"Little to no attention is paid to biosecurity, animal stress and potential injury to animals when activists illegally enter properties and approach vehicles."

Read about the LRTAWA’s expectations of the state government’s strategy, here

LRTAWA believest is significant that, in the email exchanges published by The West Australian on the  January 17, there is no instruction that sick and dying animals be helped.

"Capturing the footage is apparently a greater priority," Jacob says.

"It is noted that the ‘set-up’ suggested by the ship worker is strongly rejected, but where is the care for any animals already sick?"

Jacob also took a swipe at the producers of a recent 60 Minutes broadcast on the subject, saying they must also take responsibility for potentially misleading the public if they did not properly check the circumstances in which the footage was obtained, including whether inducements were offered to provide it, before the segment went to air.

"It’s time some of these activist groups were held to account with the same level of intensity those of us who produce, transport and sell animals are," he says.

‘The recent uncertainty over sheep live export has created severe hardship for several rural transporting businesses and it is likely that some businesses will close.

"With such serious consequences for Western Australian farmers and rural businesses, activist claims and so-called evidence should be objectively assessed, and appropriate action taken where footage is obtained fraudulently or where inducements have been offered.

Our politicians should lead the way in restoring balance and fairness."

For its part, activist group Animals Australia says the whistleblower’s accusations of cruelty were corroborated by other workers on the export ship Awassi Express and supported by the post-voyage veterinary response that was accepted stakeholders including the government.

The trade has been under attack from a range of anti-cruelty organisations as it deals with a raft of scandals and investigations involving animal deaths on voyages.


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