LIVESTOCK exporters say animal activists should abide by the same degree of transparency they have long demanded from the live trade industry.
Chairman of peak representative group the Australian Livestock Exporter’s Council Simon Crean, in a letter to members today, outlined three key questions he felt the industry was entitled to answers on in the wake of serious allegations regarding payments for the provision of footage of animals in distress.
Leaked emails published across national media yesterday have led to claims prominent group Animals Australia offers payments for footage and provides instructions on how to get the sort of footage they desire.
Animals Australia has not denied or confirmed this to be the case.
Animals Australia was instrumental in bringing footage from the Awassi Express to the attention of the public, which led to a government investigation into the live export industry and the cancellation of the licence of the exporter involved.
Mr Crean’s letter said the conditions seen in footage on the Awassi Express were unacceptable, whatever the context.
However, clarity was needed about potential payments made to “whistleblowers” and arrangements they make with Animals Australia.
“These very serious allegations, if substantiated, bring into question the ethics of Animals Australia’s campaign strategies and its credibility as an animal welfare advocacy group,” Mr Crean wrote.
ALEC had not received any of the information raised in the story and it was clear at this early stage that it must seek further information, he said.
ALEC would be looking to obtain:
- Copies of the emails that are at the centre of the allegations.
- Clarity about whether 60 Minutes was aware of payments being made in exchange for the footage.
- To what extent the circumstances in which the footage was taken was considered, or clarified, in relation to ongoing regulatory investigations and reviews.
ALEC will also be raising questions with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources about how these revelations would be further investigated, as well as Animals Australia’s ongoing involvement in government-led forums relating to industry reform.
“We are calling on Animals Australia to be transparent about what has occurred,” Mr Crean said.
“Given the enduring history of Animals Australia’s activism against our industry, it is important to uphold the sector’s integrity and seek to affirm our credentials and commitment to a sustainable, ethical livestock export industry.”