Thursday, June 09, 2011

Emotions and policy

Writing as they say for :News Corporation" papers on the live cattle export issue, Miranda Devine says;

But despite our emotional response to the cruelty on our TV screens, sensible people know that emotions do not drive prudent policy.

This is, of course, nonsense. We should look at the unnecessary suffering and resolve to act on it. Where our rational rather than emotional response should cut in is in deciding which of the alternatives to relieve the distress is best.

The first observation to make is that not having Australian cattle will at best have a marginal effect on the number of cattle being slaughtered. Secondly, the MLA box used properly is a lot more humane than the methods used elsewhere.

But the best solution remains stunning. That requires expensive equipment that requires slaughtering in volume, not three or four beasts a day. Volume requires refrigeration. It also requires the enlistment of the Muslim community to explain to their fellow Muslims that stunning is Halal, and is less "torture" than what goes on in Indonesia. With refrigeration the slaughtering can be done here or in Indonesia, but it is the volume that counts.

Here's the question. Australia spends a lot on overseas aid. We are often criticised for "aid for trade" projects. But what would the total bill look like to create a meat distribution system in Indonesia that used a modicum of refrigeration - we are only talking refrigeration at a large abattoir and refrigerated trucks to distribute to the un-refrigerated markets.

We absolutely should let our emotions dictate to us that action is required, but we should use reasoning to decide on the action.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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