Saturday, August 14, 2010

Talking Horses asks the National Party about Horse Meat in WA

The Talking Horses radio show on Perth 91.3 SportFM is a great show for anyone interested in horses. It is hosted by Diane Bennit, who is Chair of the Western Australian Horse Council. On their 10th of August episode they spoke to Lynne Craigie, National Party candidate for Durack in the upcoming federal election.

They spoke about issues including horse meat, aerial culling of brumbies (and other animals) in remote areas, as well as establishing more multi-use trails around the state. Here is a link to download the podcast from the 91.3 SportFM website. (As Sport FM only have four podcasts from each of their shows available for download on their podcasts page, it's possible that this link may only work for the next couple of weeks.)

Here is a transcript of the section of the interview covering the legalisation of horse meat for human consumption in WA:

Diane Bennit - Moving along to an emotive issue, the horse meat debate, how does the National Party... where do they stand?

Lynne Craigie - The National Party again, doesn't have a stance on it, I guess if you look overseas horse meat has been a delicacy in some countries, I think France for example, they see it as a delicacy. Personally I'm not in favour of it, I think we have enough choices already and I don't see the need to bring it on board, but as I said at this point the Nationals don't have a policy on it, it's all fairly new, but certainly again it's something we need to lobby our electors enough and about. For myself personally, I don't think I could manage to eat horse, no.

While I'm glad that she is personally against it, it does seem a little strange that no-one mentioned that the Minister who legalised it in the first place, the Honorable Terry Redman MLA, is a member of the National Party. While it's reassuring to see that the legalisation of horse meat for human consumption is not a nation wide policy of the National Party, and that at least one of its members is against it, I really wish someone had mentioned that it was the National Party that brought this in!

I hope that people take her advice to heart, regarding lobbying our electors about this enough to make a difference. Politicians are the ones who brought this in, and politicians are the ones who can put a stop to it. Letters and emails written to Western Australian Shadow Minister for Agriculture Michael (Mick) Murray MLA have resulted in Mr Murray stating that he will ask Terry Redman questions in parliament regarding food safety and animal welfare with regard to horse meat. Hopefully this will be a step in the right direction. Contact details for Mr Murray are here if you would like to offer any suggestions or support.

Here is the section of the Talking Horses interview on aerial culling of wild horses, as Vince Gareffa has brought this issue into the debate as part of his justification for selling horse meat in his shop:

Diane Bennit - The final question is on aerial culling. I realise that a lot of this is a financially practical way, up north, but it is actually hard to kill an animal, even if an animal is standing in front of you, and to hang out of a helicopter at 60km an hr and leave an animal lying on the ground, ANY animal, with maybe four bullet holes in it, and it does take them a long time to die. I know I did see a documentary in New Zealand, they were killing goats in the high country, and they were doing that with aerial culling, and there were goats running around screaming, with broken legs, with blood pouring out of holes. Absolutely it was on of the most distressing thing I've ever seen. Is there any plans, and this would be of course to do with country, are there any plans by the National Party to maybe try and find a more humane way.

Lynne Craigie - Not that I'm aware of, everything I can find about aerial culling, and I have been looking at it since getting your questions the other day, it appears that it is done for financial reasons, because it's mainly out in very remote areas that they do it. Of course according to cost and everything else it's the most efficient way to do it, however I agree with you, I can't see that it is humane in the way that it's done, because how do they know that the animal is dead or not. Again I'm probably a bit naive on this, I'm not sure of what other methods are available. But certainly we should be looking into it.

Diane Bennit - I think you can pretty much guarantee that a very large percentage of them are not actually going to be dead, and I know that they're going to start now, apparently there's a million camels too many in Australia, and they're going to start culling those, so it's not just the horses. It's any type of animal.

Lynne Craigie - Maybe there is room there to look at some forms of employment or industry out in those remote regions, I know with camels it's been talked about before. Perhaps there is room out there for some indigenous enterprise in looking at the ways of what we can do with camel, and culling of camel. Surely the same could be extended to horses, and look for more humane ways to do what we do and to also utilise the animals to their best, perhaps I'm not saying that in the best way, rather than having them lying around and rotting what more can we do?

This supports my previous argument that Vince Garreffa selling horse meat in his shop in Perth will have no impact on brumby culls in remote areas.

Many Australian brumby groups have been suggesting more humane brumby management programs for quite some time. Their suggestions include the establishment of indigenous enterprises that involve rounding up brumbies, training some for domestication and suppressing their numbers in the wild by reducing their ability to breed. Tourist dollars would contribute significantly to such a scheme.

Next week Talking Horses will be interviewing Judi Moylan from the Liberal Party.

On a more general note, even if you're not in Western Australia, Talking Horses is a great podcast to download, because they have interesting segments on things like horse breeds and nutrition which are of interest to any horse person.

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