HIGH profile anti livestock production organisation Animals Australia, which last financial year raised more than $4 million to fight the live sheep trade alone, is under siege this morning as politicians, commentators and farmers call for police investigations and its charity status to be revoked.
In the wake of damning leaked emails indicating the organisation offers thousands of dollars in payments for footage of distressed animals, and provides instructions on how to get the most sensational shots, questions are being raised about the creation of a market in animal cruelty.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he’d leave activists to explain themselves.
“Australia has an outstanding record when it comes to animal welfare and we want to make sure that our systems and processes are always up to standard and we’re doing the right thing,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that those who seem only interested in playing the activist politics of this issue are more focused on those issues.”
Politicians across the country have expressed outrage and one even said there was no difference between paying for footage and needles being stuck in strawberries to try to destroy an industry.
Animals Australia appears to have to gone to ground after issuing a statement yesterday defending the integrity of the whistleblower in one of its most famous footage releases, the Awassi Express sheep shots which led to government investigations and the licence of the exporter being cancelled.
The organisation so far, however, has not denied or confirmed it pays for footage.
Mecardo agriculture market analyst Matt Dalgleish, who has worked extensively on researching the value of the live trade industry to Australia’s economy, said if it proved to be true that Animals Australia paid for footage, “then irrespective of whether they intended to or not, by merely paying for footage they are encouraging some to collect footage/payment by any means.”
This includes purposefully mistreating animals, he said.
“If they are paying for footage they are creating a market in animal cruelty,” he said.
Endless comments on social media overnight pointed to the fact foreign staff working on live export ships often come from countries less wealthy than Australia, with arguably lower social expectations of animal welfare.
Hence cash for footage would undoubtedly incentivise the less scrupulous to create footage, they said.
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