Promoting understanding
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Supply chain assurance – Oh really!

Posted in: Di's diary1 Comment

Having been involved in the business training/ elearning industry for over 20 years I am well aware of the concept of Quality Improvement/ TQM/ Continuous Improvement/ Quality Assurance/ Kaizen etc, etc. There are so many terms/ concepts/ theories that relate to this area it is hard to keep track of them and their subtle or not so subtle differences. But underlying the terminology is a commitment to improving bottom line profits, eliminating waste and uniting workers/ colleagues in a shared vision. There is also a common thread that, for continuous improvement to occur, faults and errors must be identified and then rectified. In business these errors may indeed be substantial – resulting in losses to the company and shareholder profits but apart from OHS issues, these rarely result in catastrophic anguish or suffering (although I suppose some people would argue that stock market losses could be described in this way).

The point is that for me, Quality Assurance and all its nuances is a process which aims to streamline the production of inanimate things –where the errors and waste and faults have no bearing on the actual things, only those who seek to benefit from them.To apply the same concept to a system which involves lives – conscious, feeling beings, is an absolute disgrace but this is precisely what the Australian government is attempting to do with the live export trade. Due (and only due) to the overwhelming public outcry over this vile industry they implemented the “supply chain assurance” system – system meant to track individual animals though the export/ import loop through to eventual slaughter. In reality this system is impossible to implement because even those involved in the trade admit that once an animal passes into the hands of the importer and money is exchanged, we no longer own the animal and our authority becomes negligent. There are so many things here that I could comment on (like how we can own and exchange a ‘life’) however I will refrain, in an attempt to keep this piece of writing on track. What I am concerned with here is challenging the idea of supply chain assurance. This empty platitude was invented by the government and industry to quell the disquiet, the anger and the outrage from the public who have been deceived about Australia’s involvement in a cruel and brutal trade for over thirty years. A trade which involves approximately 4 million sheep and half a million cattle a year.

The very fact that the government had to act swiftly and implement such a system last year as a result of Animals Australia and the ABC Four Corners program is testament enough that there were monumental problems. But to continue to defend the trade and the ridiculous supply chain assurance system and describe them as “vibrant” and “working well” in light of continuous examples of outrageous sadism is an insult not to me, or the thousands of other people fighting on behalf of the animals but the animals themselves. The beings who like you and me, fear death and pain and will do anything to ensure their own mortality. Yet, like what has happened in Pakistan in the past week, where 10 000 Australian sheep were corralled and cornered and beaten, clubbed and stabbed to death in front of each other and in many cases buried alive, this is the reality. The government would have us believe that these poor unfortunate souls are just collateral damage, unintended victims of a regrettable incident but the truth is that all animals exported, face heinous deaths in countries where there are no animal welfare/ protection laws.

Senator Joe Ludwig has responded to this latest expose by describing it as “abhorrent and disturbing” but dismissed it as an aberration or a loophole which can now be accounted for in his wondrous ‘system’. A system which will continue to be acceptable as long as people continue to believe that animals are mere components on an assembly line.  That they have no consciousness, no awareness and no value other than a monetary one. As Gary Yourofsky so eloquently put it in his famous lecture at the Georgia tech:

Contrary to political and religious dogma, animals do not belong to us. They are not commodities! They are not property! And they are not inanimate, stupid objects, who can’t think and feel!”

“That Descartes’ Cartesian way of looking at animals, like they’re machines… It is outdated, and quite frankly, 100% insane. Because, if we all understand that animals use their eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to eat, legs to walk, feathers to fly, fins to swim, genitalia to procreate, bowels to defecate.. I’m always perplexed that most people don’t believe that they can also use their brains to think, feel, be rational, be aware and be self-aware!”

“Am I supposed to believe, that every body part of an animal functions just like it’s supposed to, except the brain?

I am actually astounded that the Australian Government actually thought that the Supply Chain Assurance system was worth the bother.  They should have known that animal advocates/ activists – call us what you may, would never be quietened with such a feeble fix. Anything less than a ban will never suffice. And anyone with an ounce of intelligence would have predicted that in a market as unstable and unpredictable as this,  these ‘aberrations and loopholes’ would have reared their heads, causing exactly the sort of trouble that the government is facing today. And now more than a year down the track from the original expose, with a national rally planned for tomorrow – this is definitely not an issue that is not going to go away. Nor should it.

The public is finally beginning to take notice and accountability for the animals. Animals whose fate should not be left in the hands of the exporters, the live export industry or the government. You see thankfully that the time has come and past when we listened to people who told us “don’t worry” and ‘it’s okay”. I think it’s fair to say that the general consensus now is that “it’s not okay”, “we are worried” and “no, we don’t trust you”.

The past few months have seen me withdraw into a reclusive, reflective shell -overwhelmed by the big issue – combating animal abuse on a global scale. I have no answers but I have finally arrived at an impasse. It is, as I have always suspected – a case of one slow step at a time. Making inroads through impenetrable terrain, focusing wholly and solely on the goal and never giving up hope. Banning live export is one step. It will not end the suffering, the abuse or the sadism. It will not right the wrongs or appease our consciences of what we have allowed to happen for the past 30 years or continue to let happen in slaughterhouses, or on farms across the country but it shows a nation that is slowly coming of age. It will signal a shift in our collective consciousness that we are finally beginning to become even slightly worthy of the virtues we so readily bestow on ourselves as a species.

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  1. Margi Thurgood said on 07/10/2012 at 1:25 am

    I saw a program the night before last about the Nazi war criminals who are dying without prosecution or having to make reparation. They were cowards who killed without compassion. They could kill so they did.
    New atrocities occur in our world. I am not superior to other living creatures. I live longer than most and with that comes responsibility to care for them. I cannot do all I wish for but in the words of the poet Emily Dickinson
    If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.

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