Colour television and live exports - issue anybody?

What's the real issue with live exports?

New Zealand's Minister for Agriculture recently announced a ban on live cattle exports by sea, with a two-year period to phase out the trade.

Unsurprisingly, and mirroring the usual polarized views regarding the use of animals, you'll find the usual groups applauding the announcement, and others decrying it.

It's not the first time that clashes of opinion regarding live exports of animals have been the topical point of discussion for politicians, media, and all those with animal welfare interests.

The central subject matter was identified by the Minister who has gone on record stating that the decision is based on issues of "animal welfare".

Amidst the contrasting opinions, the politicking, and the usual variation in what people are defining as animal welfare, there's the question about what the announcement looks like through the legal lens.

Legal analysis of any matter starts with identifying the issues, obtaining the facts, determines what the admissible evidence is, and then applies the relevant law.

Step one of the process considers what the real issue is. For many people, identifying the real issue in respect of live exports sheds a different light on responses to the question of whether a ban is really necessary.

In a post from IAL years ago, readers were invited to imagine a situation where each animal was travelling the equivalent of first-class with their own space, a choice of different bedding to suit their physical comforts and options as to what they might like to eat. Throw in a colour television for good measure just to add to the ambience.

People who have been asked this question directly and in-person frequently give a good-natured chuckle and comment that they would be quite happy to exchange places with the animal.

And that highlights the point, doesn't it? Consider this - perhaps the issue is not so much the practice of live exports, but the current conditions under which animals are exported? If you recognize the rationale that identifies a difference between the practice versus the conditions, then that changes the whole tenor of the discussion, doesn't it?

  • Air New Zealand states: “ Every year we are trusted to transport thousands of pets and live animals around New Zealand”
  • The USDA states: “Over two million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year…”
  • And reported 2020-2021 travel statistics report that: “78% of owners and their four-legged friends are driving and flying together more now than ever”

Of course, there are additional issues to be considered when looking at the practice AND the conditions associated with live exports. But amongst the trade deals, touted consumer/voter interests, and national reputations referred to, from the “animal’s” welfare perspective, is it possible that the opinions, media releases, and announcements have missed the point?

References: - Live exports: What underpins the controversy?  - What's the real issue with live animal exports? - “Every year we are trusted to transport thousands of pets and live animals around New Zealand. We even support the transportation of guide dogs, endangered Kiwis and Tuataras for key national organisations” - Plane Talk: Traveling with Animals - Explore Pet Travel Trends on Type of Pets, Destinations & Mode of Transport

P.S. The picture is of Robert Cary-Williams in an armchair outside, and next to his pet cow called Francis Bacon, watching tv.