HomeBlogHow to Take Action Against Live Animal Exports
Millions of Australian cattle, sheep and goats are exported overseas every year, sometimes for breeding stock, but mostly for slaughter and consumption in other countries. Thousands of these animals suffer unnecessarily in transit because of the unbearable conditions onboard the livestock ships, enduring extreme stress, illness and injury on journeys that can last up to 35 days.
Those that manage to survive the journey are often handled brutally and inhumanely when they reach their destination, and are killed while still fully conscious.
The Australian live export trade is controlled by the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources (DAWR), and despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary, the Australian Live Exporters Council (ALEC) continues to claim that Australia has the best live export standards in the world and any instances of cruelty are one-off incidents that do not represent the industry as a whole. The problem is, that these one-off incidents are happening all too often!
The evidence keeps mounting
Australia has been involved in live exports since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, but it is only in the last few years that the determined efforts of concerned groups and the prying eyes of the media have brought the cruelty involved in live exports to the public’s attention.
In 2011, Animals Australia and ABC’s Four Corners program aired footage showing Australian cattle being slaughtered inhumanely at 11 abattoirs in Indonesia.
In 2012, another investigation by Animals Australia revealed the brutal slaughter of 22,000 sheep in Pakistan after the consignment was rejected due to fears of disease.
In 2013, Animals Australia and ABC’s 7.30 program aired footage of extreme cruelty to Australian cattle in an Egyptian abattoir.
In 2014, Stop Live Exports made headlines when they organised a human chain of over 900 people across the Stirling Bridge in Freemantle - chosen because of the tens of millions of animals that have been trucked across it to be exported to over 40 countries.
In 2017, an RSPCA petition against future trade was tabled in Parliament with over 21,000 signatures calling to prohibit the live export of all equines for the purposes of slaughter.
In 2018, Animals Australia and 60 Minutes aired secret video footage taken on a ship carrying live sheep to the Middle East, which revealed shocking conditions and numerous breaches of animal cruelty laws.
So what’s being done about it?
The short answer is not enough. While the New Zealand government was able to stop live exports from their own country by introducing prohibitive legislation, our live export sheep trade is worth $250 million a year, so don’t hold your breath for similar tough action here in Australia.
The irony is that the economic benefits of live exports don’t justify the industry’s existence. Research conducted by World Animal Protection found that a sheep that is processed domestically is worth 20% more to the Australian economy than one exported live overseas.
Then there is the environmental impact of the live export industry, which is one of the top 40 carbon emitters in Australia. Stopping this trade would equate to the removal of around 320,000 cars from our roads.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and the Australian Greens have both presented bills in Parliament calling for an end to live exports and both have been rejected by the House of Representatives.
Moving from live export to a frozen meat trade is not an ideal outcome if you don’t eat meat, but it is certainly a kinder alternative as the animals will at least be handled and killed to Australian regulations and standards.
Waiting for government action on this matter will be a long wait indeed, during which countless more animals will continue to suffer and die. So if you want to do something concrete about ending the live export trade, you are going to need more than just words … and that’s where ethical investing comes in.
About ethical investing
Whether we are aware of it or not, every one of us is an investor. That’s because we all have superannuation, which is invested on our behalf in publicly listed companies, hopefully earning us a return on our investment.
If you think that doesn’t add up to much bargaining power individually, you’re right. But collectively, it means that we can use our investment choices to influence the way companies behave and to force politicians to act.
Australians have more than $2 trillion in superannuation and the average super fund invests a quarter of this in Australian shares. So, by only investing our money in industries that we support, non-ethical industries that we boycott will be forced to change or disappear altogether.
Money talks and when it also walks, its voice becomes very loud indeed. And that, in a nutshell, is what ethical investment is all about… using the collective power of our super to effect changes in the world that otherwise just wouldn’t happen.
Think of this as a two-pronged approach; you have probably stopped eating meat, which will have an impact on the industry, but if you also remove your financial support by moving your super, the pace of change will be even faster.
Choosing the cruelty free money option
So, if you are serious about seeing an end to the live export trade, Australia’s only animal-friendly ethical super fund, Cruelty Free Super, is the answer.
Most* super funds are investing in the live animal export trade through Australian companies such as:
Australian Agricultural Company - breeds animals for live export
Qube Logistics - operates ports that facilitate live export
Rural Funds Group and Washington Soul Pattinson - fund live export breeders
Wellard Group - operates live animal transport ships.
At Cruelty Free Super, we will never invest your savings in these companies or any other listed company that directly or indirectly support the live export trade.
We also do not invest in companies that profit from the exploitation or harm of animals including those who conduct tests on animals, make or sell animal products, breed animals for food, hunt animals, race animals or use them for entertainment.
Instead, Cruelty Free Super looks for industries to invest in that make a positive contribution to the world, such as renewable energy, cruelty-free healthcare, education, environmental protection, recycling, and water and waste management.
And we don’t just stop at the ethics. A growing number of Australians are opting for ethical funds, not just because of the alignment to their values, but because they have consistently outperformed traditional funds over 3, 5 and 10 year periods^. While past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future returns, our philosophy is that careful analysis of the environmental, social and governance impacts of companies in our portfolio can achieve after fee returns on par, if not beyond, average.
So come and join over 1300 Australians who have chosen the humane option with Cruelty Free Super. You can start making your voice heard right here and right now by switching to us online in under two minutes.
We offer super-quick signup (all you need is your TFN), easy account transfer (we can help you combine your accounts), easy opt-in insurance (only included if you want it), expert fund managers (over 30 years experience), easy online account access (via our user-friendly website) and exceptional customer service (no answering machines or queues).
We love writing about cruelty-free investing and creating a kinder world, but please be aware that the information provided is general in nature, not personal or financial advice. When we discuss companies, it's not a recommendation to buy, hold or sell shares in that company. If we mention returns, please remember that past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future performance. Before acting on any information provided, you should consider if it's appropriate to you.
* We are often asked, “what super funds invest in live exports?”. The answer is: a surprising number actually. While transparency in super funds is not a given, we have worked with research partners to pull together data on the 50 biggest super funds. We could only find six that do not have (disclosed) links to the live export trade.
^ Source: Responsible Investment Association of Australasia, 2017 Benchmarking Report, Figure 5. This graph does not represent Cruelty Free Super's returns - to see these visit ourperformance & returns page. Past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future returns.
About the author: Lee Coates
Lee Coates is one of the UK's most respected experts in ethical and socially responsible investment. Lee has lectured internationally on the subject of responsible investment, has created some of the world's most innovative and interesting responsible investment products and is one of the world's highest qualified financial planners. On his many travels to Australia to visit family he was always bermused by the lack of options for cruelty-free investing for animal-conscious Australians. This became especially so once he began to understand the superannuation system here. It's not like Lee to notice a problem and sit by to wait for someone else to solve it - so he solved it. Lee created Australia's first niche ethical super fund, Cruelty Free Super.
This is general information only and does not take account of your individual investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it, consider if the information is appropriate and whether you need to speak to an accredited professional.
You should also consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision. This product is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited (ABN 49 006 421 638; AFSL No. 235153; RSE Licence L0000635) as trustee of the Grosvenor Pirie Master Superannuation Fund - Series 2 (ABN 32 367 272 075; RSE Registration R1001204) (“GPMSFs-2”). Cruelty Free Super is a sub-plan of GPMSFs-2. The Promoter and Investment Manager of Grosvenor Pirie Master Superannuation Fund is Responsible Investment Services Pty Ltd (ABN 77 630 578 200; AFS Representative No. 001271438), which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of RevTech Media Pty Ltd (ABN 75 150 963 474; AFS Licence No. 455982). The Sub-Promoter of Cruelty Free Super is Cruelty Free Super Services Pty Ltd (ABN 17 641 761 686; AFS Representative No. 001283739), which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Professional Superannuation Management Pty Ltd (ABN 31 617 160 791; AFSL No. 499786). The Trustee does not in any way endorse, warrant or accept responsibility for any services provided by the Promoter or Sub-Promoter in its own right or directly to members or prospective members.
Past performance is not indicative of future performance.