Should live exports be banned?
"In the eyes of a butcher a horse is already dead,'' wrote Georges Bataille, and if the record of Australia's live export trade is anything to go by, you can take that quote quite literally.
Crammed into ships these animals are considered little different to everyday objects to be utilised. They are considered lifeless objects that as they are prepared for slaughter, led past carcasses still convulsing with nerves or have had their throats cut with blunt rusty blades.
Last week, Western Australian cattle and sheep exporters chose to suspend their shipments to abattoirs in Egypt after activists from Animals Australia received new footage of cattle being slowly and torturously killed there. In one instance, a man repeatedly stabbed at a bull in the face as it sat on a buckled broken leg with blood pouring from its eye. As the news surfaced the industry expressed shock and horror, but it's safe to say that anyone within Australia's live export industry expressing actual surprise at the footage is either lying through their teeth or is turning a blind eye on what they are a part of.
Today, millions of animals, majority sheep and cattle but also dairy cows, buffalo, camels, deer and goats are loaded onto ships and planes in Australia each year. These treacherous journeys may last hours, days or weeks, sometimes months. Animal activists against live trade refer to these transport vessels as ''ships of death''. They describe the animals slipping in their own faeces as the ships toss and turn in stormy weather, or packed in so tight they can barely breathe. Thousands of deaths occur even before the animals arrive and are explained away by poor excuses such as the result of ''drastic change in diet'', ''exhaustion'' and ''suffocation”
Animal activists often compare the way we treat animals with the historical treatment of women, slaves, indigenous people and children as property and inferior beings; and indeed the some of these points...