RSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast

Live export: why is it still happening? With Bidda and Jed from the RSPCA

June 23, 2020 RSPCA Australia Season 2 Episode 2
RSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast
Live export: why is it still happening? With Bidda and Jed from the RSPCA
Show Notes

Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones and Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow. 

In this episode, we delve into the RSPCA’s well-known and long-held opposition to live animal exports. For an organisation that supports farming and generally pushed to improve (rather than outright ban) poor practices – why is live export one of few exceptions? 

Dr Bidda Jones has been with the RSPCA for more than 20 years, and back then, the first report she ever wrote for the RSPCA was on the horrors of live sheep export to the Middle East.  

She’s also the author of Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports, which detailed the events leading up and beyond the notorious 2011 live export expose, A Bloody Business on the Australian ABC’s leading current affairs program, Four Corners.  

Dr Jones leads us through the strong case, the scientific knowledge and the overwhelming evidence that show live animal exports are risky, unnecessary and inherently bad for animal welfare. She also explains how animal welfare groups are generally responsible for any improvements in the trade, because the industry consistently fails to respond to issues or address animal welfare concerns without the public outrage of covert video evidence as a trigger. 

Dr Jed Goodfellow is the RSPCA Senior Policy Officer, an animal welfare lawyer and former RSPCA Inspector and prosecutor. He’s been working on the live export issue on behalf of the RSPCA for more than 9 years, and represents the RSPCA on a number of high-level government committee and industry groups. 

He talks about why the risks of live export are so difficult to mitigate. He outlines what conditions for animals are like on board live export ships, including their difficulty accessing food and water, as well as disease outbreaks and infections they’re likely to experience.   

He also talks about problems with the industry’s continuing focus on how many animals have died as a measure of animal welfare, and particularly, because this doesn't take account of thousands of animals that might suffer terribly but survive. 

Key points:  

  • Why the RSPCA is opposed to live animal exports: the scientific basis, the case against live exports, and the long history of repeated animal welfare disasters. 
  • Why live animal export is cruel and unnecessary when animals can be humanely slaughtered closer to home, boosting Australia's thriving trade in chilled and frozen meat to the same destinations. 
  • How both sheep and cattle exported can face horrific conditions on board, but these risks don’t end when the leave the ship, with multiple examples of terrible treatment in destination countries. 
  • How multiple government reviews conducted over decades have consistently found poor animal welfare is inherent to the trade and the business model, and that live export cannot be done humanely.  

 Further links: 

***Warning: These television programs feature graphic footage of animal cruelty in the live export industry, and viewers may find content this very distressing.*** 

ABC Four Corners: A Bloody Business:  

60 Minutes:  Sheep, ships and videotape: