As we all know, 5867 cows and 41 of 43 crewmen perished when the livestock ship, Gulf Livestock 1, capsized en route from our Napier Port to China recently.
Year to date, NZ has earned $151 million from the export of live stock.
NZ First’s agriculture spokesman crystallises the issue this way: “It’s a $300m a year industry and that’s vital, especially when we need every dollar we can get.”
To use the farming vernacular … that’s bullshit – economically and morally. And just one more reason NZ First should be buried for good. A better outcome than the carcasses floating in the East China Sea.
The carefully cultivated image of happy, grass-fed cows feeding on glorious green pastures is one of the bedrock images that sustains ‘brand New Zealand’ and our huge agri-exports. That brand is immensely more valuable than some, by comparison, puny profits from export of live stock.
And it can be sunk by the sight of dead floating cows.
Sounding too emotional? Brands are all about emotion, dear readers!
Economics aside, more fundamental is the disturbing issue of animal welfare and the basic morality of transporting these poor beasts for days-long voyages, at whatever level of on-board care, to locations where they might or might not be well-cared for.
Most New Zealanders are (probably) still OK with exporting premium steaks and legs of lamb.
But I’d suggest that most New Zealanders are no more supportive of ferrying live cows to China than they are of exporting our water there.
So let’s just put a stop to it.
Labour is hiding behind a pending review of the issue by MPI. So is National. You’ve seen above the ‘dollars rule’ position of NZ First, which is echoed by ACT. Greens oppose live shipments.
But we here in Hawke’s Bay can skip all that bull.
I call upon the HB Regional Council, controlling owner of Napier Port, to deliver this simple message to the Port: No more exporting of live stock through our Napier Port.
Hawke’s Bay does not want to be part of this trade.
Let Chairman Rex Graham know your views!