Partial Transcript of Interview with Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Radio 5DN in Australia , About Live Export Trade

CALLER: Yes, Jeremy and good morning Prime Minister. Look I want to raise that issue. I saw the "60 Minutes" program and to me they were scenes from many evil torture chambers and apparently the scenes they weren't allowed to see because children would be watching animals getting their tendons cut to disable them and then their eyes were poked out with swords. I mean, that is absolutely frightful. You have [inaudible] I'm sure expect [inaudible] RSPCA and he is so adamant about these dreadful conditions once these poor animals even get to these places, it's bad enough on board this ship but when they get there it's just hell, and he wants you to ban the trade.

PRIME MINISTER: Well that is a big thing. I understand the concern but people should bear in mind, of course, that it's a very valuable and important trade. It's worth about a billion dollars a year in export earnings and employs about 9,000 people, particularly valuable to farming in regional areas of Australia . So I deplore cruelty, any ordinary human being would and does. But we have to keep these things in perspective, we have to remember that you are talking about a very valuable economic asset and surely the goal is to make the trade as humane as possible isn't that the goal and that's the best thing to do rather than ban it... but you ban it you create a lot of disadvantage for many Australians who are already living in fairly disadvantaged circumstances.

CALLER: I'd like to raise two things very quickly if I could. First of all, the live export trade. You are more or less justifying it on the grounds that it brings in money.

PRIME MINISTER: Can I just say I'm not justifying cruelty, but I'm defending the trade and I'm saying that it's not an answer to get rid of the trade altogether. The answer is to try and make it more humane.

CALLER: Well it's been shown very clearly that it can't be done humanely. They've had 25 years to get their act together. Hugh Worth has clearly stated that what they're doing, the decline, if you or I did it to our dogs we would be jailed for it. So if you say it should be justified on the grounds of income, you're saying that provided I'm making plenty of money out of committing a crime, it's okay. That's virtually what you're saying. They've admitted it themselves, that their truck which is the newest, state-of-the-art, world-class transporter, 41 per cent of the cattle on board of it died and the [inaudible] that they were standing in was 31cm deep. That is the best they can do. And it's commonsense in any case to transport an animal humanely halfway across the world is going to cost almost as much to transport a human being halfway across the world humanely. And how much does that cost? A lot more than the value of their carcass. That's obvious. It's very plain that this trade cannot be conducted humanely, so if you condone it, you're condoning the commission of a crime on the grounds that they make a billion dollars a year. It's as simple as that John.

PRIME MINISTER: Well no I don't think it is as simple as that.

CALLER: I'm afraid it is.

PRIME MINISTER: I don't accept that you can't make it more humane. I do accept that making it more humane is something that everybody should endeavour to do, but it's just not as easy as you suggest to dismiss the importance of an industry that provides a livelihood to tens of thousands....

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