Corporate Social Responsibility is a phrase often tossed around by boards of top Australian companies wanting to give back to the community.
It is associated with companies with big brand names, wanting to look as though they are empathetic, kind, and in touch with their consumer.
It's about time the Australian agricultural industry did the same. Not only are Australian farmers fast losing the support of Australians, but we risk losing our internationally renowned reputation as a premier supplier of agricultural products.
At Business News Australia we often write about startups and businesses that are doing their bit to give back to the community. These companies, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople demonstrate the ability to act selflessly, empathically, and with compassion for those around them.
From behemoths like Adidas teaming up with global company Parley to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean (and developing an awesome line of clothes at the same time) to Business News Australia's incredible network of business leaders in Brisbane volunteering for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, there is change in the waters of the larger business community.
It is no longer good enough to prioritise profit over people, or animals for that matter, in any industry.
The glaring lack of empathy and respect for the Australian agricultural community shown by the live export trade and its partners in cahoots casts a dark shadow on the rest of the nation.
Like many other Australians I was horrified when I again saw the news Australian sheep has died on a live export ship, followed by the 60 Minutes footage of sheep bogged down in their own excrement on these ships which leave the shores of Australia.
It begs the question: at what point does human decency and compassion trump profit? Clearly the people behind these operations, Emanuel Exports, value money over thousands of lives.
Whether you eat meat or not, the footage of sheep on the Emanuel Exports ships is confronting, and it doesn't take a behavioural expert to acknowledge that the sheep are suffering.
Though the outcry against live export has recently intensified, activists have been calling for the abolition of the obviously cruel practice for years.
Often these cries have fallen on deaf ears with the Federal and State legislators instead choosing to back the multi-million dollar live exporters over both Australian farmers and the consumers.
There is little to be proud of in this situation.
This issue goes beyond the argument about whether it is morally okay to eat animal products this is a question of corporate social responsibility, and legislators, and the Australian agricultural industry need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want the pointless deaths of thousands of innocent lives on their hands.
Australian farmers have an obligation to stand up against the live export trade. The continued acceptance of live export as a natural element of the industry is unacceptable we now have proof to demonstrate why. Not only are the conditions of the "death ships" which transport thousands of Australian animals across the ocean in cramped, disgusting, hot spaces, completely beyond what a reasonable person would call 'compassionate', but it raises the question what on earth happens once the animals are unloaded.
If the conditions on these ships are so bad, and we're only just seeing that now, who can say what conditions these animals endure once they are unloaded. At least in Australia there is a semblance of protection for animals bred for slaughter. We cannot promise the same for those that are selected to cross the sea with Emanuel Exports.
The Australian Veterinary Association says the system has clearly failed and has called on those responsible to do something now.
I question the ability of The Australian Live Exporters Council (ALEC) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) boards to resolve this ongoing issue.
The ALEC board includes CEO Simon Westaway, chairman Simon Crean and board members Dr Tony Brightling, William McEwin, Troy Setter, Justin Slaughter, John Edwards, Cameron Hall and Dr David Jarvie.
MLA's board is comprised of managing director Richard Norton, Dr Michele Allan, Alan Beckett, Steven Chaur, Robert Fitzpatrick, Erin Gorter, Andrew Michael, Russell Lethbridge and Clare Stanwix.
Lastly, the buck stops with Federal and State Ministers David Littleproud, Alannah MacTiernan, Jaala Pulford, Niall Blair, Mark Furner, John Whetstone, Kenneth Edward Vowles and Sarah Courtney to sort out this mess.
Business News Australia
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