Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reevaluating Priorities

Source of picture: traveller33a
“It’s come to light this week that animals being transported via boat from Australia to Indonesia, are subject to inhumane treatment. Now, meanwhile we’ve quite literally got boats coming past the other direction and the people on board we can only really describe their situation as inhumane as well. Now, in the view of the panel, which story is more likely to generate compassion from the wider Australian public?” - Matt Graham on Australian television program, Q & A
So far, this blog hasn't concerned itself with many political and cultural issues Australia faces. (I admit, my previous posts have been quite selfish and will continue to be... I apologise in advance!) Often I think, it's not my place to write a sensible commentary when I don't know alot about the subject at hand. This post is not a detailed piece about the treatment of live cattle and the problems surrounding it's export to countries where halal and kosher killings are present nor is it going to focus on the treatment of refugees in detention camps.

What troubles me about this question is, frankly, the need to have it asked. There are copious amounts of Facebook posts on my news feed (I know, not the most reliable source of valuable information and opinion) that thoroughly support the decision to ban live cattle export. The day after this issue was brought to light on Australian program Four Corners, immediate action was taken by the federal government to ban the export of live cattle to most Indonesian slaughterhouses. When I say, immediate action, I do mean immediate... literally the day after the program was shown on television. 

I must admit that the issue of animal welfare in this particular instance is an easier issue to resolve than incoming refugees. But the amount of sympathy generated for Australian cows seems, for me, to be equivalent to (if not more than) compassion had for human beings coming to Australia. Human beings! Another low for Australia, I might say. It is terribly disconcerting to hear human beings are placed on a lower scale of respect.
“That’s an extraordinary question and not one I would have expected in a million years. I think... whether or not there might be some people who would be terribly moved by the plight of cows going out of Australia and might be less moved by the plight of refugees coming into Australia because they’re not Australian refugees and sadly I think that’s probably partly true. I think there would be a certain sort of, shall we call them an overzealous patriot, who might place the value of an Australian cow over a foreign human being. But I do think there’s room for both... I think politics is a difficult thing but when it does get to the point of people being smashed on rocks and literally dying, then you have the very unbecoming spectacle of people having a debate about whether they should be able to go to their families’ funerals or not, which I thought was a new low point in Australian politics. I think there’s a danger that politics ends up just sort of - and the rough and tumble of politics ends up enveloping things that are far more important than that and I would probably suggest to people that the instinctive reaction they have to cows being treated inhumanely might well be extended to human beings being treated the same way…” - Joe Hildebrand on Q & A

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