November 19, 2007 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

On Australia Day at The Lodge in Canberra the Prime Minister graciously congratulated the finalists for the Australian of the Year Award saying “You make Australia proud”.  I believe he was sincere.  We now have an election and I have been considering my vote. I work to alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate than me, providing schools, orphanages, animal shelters, sanctuaries, equipment, and ambulances.

I seem to have spent my life in sad places and I know what I am talking about. I’ve seen atrocities that sent my blood cold and still have nightmares.  So this year I am going to vote – on behalf of those who can’t vote. Of all the hideous crimes, the most grotesque are inflicted on innocent animals. Bear bile farming in China, dog meat markets in Korea, seal pup clubbing in Canada, dolphin slaughter in Japan. The list is long, gruesome and hideous. 100 billion people have lived on this planet. Yet we torture and kill 1.2 billion sentient animals every week. And that excludes ocean animals like whales, dolphins, sharks, albatrosses and other ocean animals.

Every week. I have learned an important truth.  In their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy.  I speak to government leaders and bureaucrats in many places. When I help the suffering they called me a saviour. But when I asked them to stop the suffering, they call me a radical. It seems everyone wants to change the world, as long as they don’t have to change themselves. When I exposed their cruelty, they countered with horrific footage of Australia’s live animals on death ships to the Middle East. Our animals had their eyes stabbed out and their tendons slashed.

Can anyone, including Mr Howard and Mr Rudd, tell me truthfully that this makes them proud?  I privately funded a training program for halal butchers in the notorious Bassateen slaughterhouse in Egypt. Imagine my horror, when the Egyptians themselves admitted it was an abject failure. More shockingly, Egypt is actually claiming that if Australia, “a civilised country” continues to export her live animals, it is an endorsement of their methods.  I am privately sponsoring the Middle East North African Animal Conference in Cairo. Delegates are already telling me that unless Australia bans the export of live animals the carnage will continue and even get worse. 

When I kneel in my church on Sunday, I taste the bitter irony of worshiping the Lamb of God, knowing the real lamb is being dragged screaming onto a death ship.  The great historian, Barbara Tuchman described folly as “acting against our own best interests”. If this is so, we are indescribably foolish.  The FAO’s damning report shows that livestock emits more greenhouse gas than the transport industry. In drought ravaged Australia, it takes thousands of glasses of precious drinking water to produce one glass of milk – when we will soon be drinking recycled sewage. We fix leaky taps to save water. But would we let a tap run for three days? That is how much precious drinking water used to produce one kilo of “meat”.  Factory “farms” flush poisons into our waterways, creating “dead zones” where all ocean life is wiped out and the sea bed is a moonscape.  

We have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. The live animal export “industry” is grotesque, a profligate waster of precious water, an environmental disaster, and indescribably cruel. It is a blot on Australia’s reputation as a compassionate country.  Japan’s reputation is seriously tarnished by its cruel slaughter of whales in the Antarctic Sanctuary. Australians were rightly horrified at the sight of a whale dying with a harpoon exploding in her brain as she called out to her calf. The Japanese response was chilling. “Is it any more cruel than your government exporting live animals to the slaughterhouses in the Middle East?” 

I am a patriot, but in the Mark Twain tradition. I support my country always, and my government when it deserves it.  If politicians don’t commit now to ending this cruel trade they are condoning it. Would they like to see film footage of the carnage? Better still, will they send copies to every Australian household? Australians deserve to know the truth. Let them decide where their consciences lead them. Kipling wrote “If any question why we died; Tell them, because our fathers lied”. So my vote, like many thousands of others, is there for the asking.  Like our tragic animals, it needs a safe home. All I need is someone to tell the truth. Now that would make me proud.               

Philip Wollen is the Australian of the Year Victoria 2007. He received the Order of Australia Medal for his International Humanitarian work in 2005


Entry filed under: GLOBAL.


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