By Michael Kennedy

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The Labor government has shown that it is morally spineless by failing to make compulsory, pre slaughter stunning which would save the animals that we profit from, from the misery of appalling and barbaric slaughter techniques that exist elsewhere in the world. If we are to be honest, poor treatment of animals happens here in Australia as well, that cruel slaughter methods are used. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie stated that he would still move on a private bill to make stunning prior to slaughter compulsory. Despite the failure of the government to act on issues of moral importance, such as live export, the housing affordability crisis and the continued social engineering policies against Australians, we can’t forget there is still a small minority of politicians who have a moral compass more in line with the needs of the country, and who haven’t sold themselves out.

The fact that this issue is even considered debatable show how far we have to go in regards to animal rights. Some people still haven’t moved on and discarded Descartes damaging philosophy that animals are merely machines, unconscious and unaware of their surroundings and unable to feel pain. Others, who are probably even more callous, acknowledge that animals can experience suffering, but simply prefer to disregard it, and dismiss it as a necessary step to obtain meat, eggs, dairy product and profit. While it can be argued that meat isn’t necessary, and that humans could live without eating any animal derived food, it is difficult to see how anyone can argue that suffering is necessary if we choose to use these products. Animals can be treated humanely and their deaths don’t have to be painful, prolonged and drawn out, but it costs money. Eggs from free range chickens simply cost more than eggs from chickens de-beaked and kept in cages without room to move or turn. Given the choice, some people will still choose the caged eggs. Given the choice, some people would say that caged eggs are better than no eggs.

Are people just callous then? Some yes, but for many others, it is the distance between them as a shopper and the animal which makes such a decision easy. Place an example of a battery hen, a real live hen in front of the ‘caged eggs’ and a free rage hen next to the ‘free range’ eggs, and some people may change their minds. If someone wanted meat and they had to kill the animal themselves, there would be many people rethinking whether they really want ham in their sandwich, or chicken nuggets with their chips and vegetables. An “animal rights” equivalent of graphic cigarette packets. Nothing would make people vegetarian faster than forcing them to slaughter their own animals. Not even mad cow disease could turn people off meat that quick.

But this isn’t likely to happen, and allowing customers to choose just isn’t good enough. When people don’t have to THINK before they buy, and the food industry makes sure they don’t think the wrong things, the government has to prevent this excessive suffering.

We do hope that live animal export laws are drastically altered in Australia, even if it means that Nationalist Alternative have to be the ones to do it. The issue extends beyond the export of live animals, we must examine our practices here and not tolerate any slaughter practice or treatment of animals which is less than the most human treatment we can offer. Callousness towards animals is an indicator of callousness towards people. Profit and the economy cannot continue to be reasons to be callous towards living things. After all, I’m sure that the prohibition of slavery economically disadvantaged hard working entrepreneurs, but the benefits, which cannot be measured economically outweigh any cost. We are better people because of it. A greater regard towards animal welfare would undoubtedly make us better people, but being better people isn’t something our current government (or for that matter, the major opposition party) is interested in.

But in some ways, we treat each other like animals, living things to be exploited for profit, whether employees in debt slavery, parents gouged by high housing costs or young single people trying to make their way in early adulthood. Everyone’s focus seems to be on how productive we are, how much profit we can make, how much we are willing to let our standard of living slip to compete with foreign workers, how much we ‘cost’ to society because we get old and sick. Farmers, who are already struggling, and already gouged by big business in Australia, have little recourse but to simply oppose any further prohibition in live exports. A country with a greater degree of innovation and ability to adapt and change could offer transitional plans that won’t see farmers go to the wall, but again, it’s simply not a price people are willing to pay. They will simply not win the support of those who respect animals, by making it an argument of economy.</p>

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