Alastair Lucas & Nicolle Flint’s letters in the Melbourne Age Newspaper

Bush-bashing via media appears to be becoming a national sport.

The latest is a letter in the Age Newspaper by Alastair Lucas AM.  He criticises Nicolle Flint’s recent letter regarding the particular section of ABC television which increasingly looks like an unquestioning mouthpiece for animal rights extremists.  They are not presenting the full facts regarding Australian live exports, so the general public can make their own minds up. For example, the incredibly significant point that Australia has the ability to improve animal welfare standards in countries it exports animals to (and has made huge improvements) has been downplayed to the extent it’s barely noticeable. As is the fact that Australia is the only country to sink resources into improving livestock welfare standards offshore, and that other countries will simply export their cattle with absolutely no animal welfare standard strings attached if we cease exporting ourselves.

Alastair says: “the ABC has never argued for the cessation of live exports” – they don’t need to! Some ABC programmes (7.30 Report, Lateline and 4 Corners, in particular) simply provides – repeatedly – the platform for animal rights activists to broadcast what they want to broadcast, when they want it broadcast! How very convenient – great way to keep your own hands pristine!

Questions regarding the timeliness and precise origin of film footage, broadcast by the abovementioned ABC programmes, remain unasked/unpursued by the ABC.

There are other issues, such as the fact that Tony Jones discussed banning live exports at length but completely failed to mention he’s married to the journalist who (controversially) ran the first story (Sarah Ferguson). But I guess non-disclosure might not be something Alastair concerns himself with, either? (See point below.)

Alastair Lucas AM is a Collins Street investment banker (Goldman Sachs) up the top of many trees, including being a Director of Fauna & Flora International Australia. Curiously, he forgot to mention this at the bottom of his letter in the Age Newspaper; which seems a rather glaring ‘vested interest’ ommission.  His ‘letter’ includes a great many emotive terms. For example: ‘rant’, ‘shocking’, ‘sinister’…you get the drift.

Alastair is also Chairman of the Burnett Institute for Medical Research.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty certain that the Burnett Institute has been involved in doing research on animals.  And probably still is.  This is makes it incredibly odd to read Alastair Lucas’s  statement: “But behind her rant about ABC bias lies a profound lack of understanding of animals, their sentience and capacity for suffering.”

This piece of hypocrisy is particularly hard to take given that animal testing is something most livestock producers – including live exporters – would be very uneasy about, if not directly against – and certainly would be if they knew the facts about how this animal testing was undertaken.

Alastair is apparently choosing to ignore the fact that if Australia ceases live exports, South American countries will fill the gap, and animal welfare in the receiving countries will be completely unmonitored. Is it only Australian cattle that are worth worrying about? NIMBY at it’s worst! Surely infinitely better for livestock worldwide, to keep our foot in as many doors as possible?

Livestock producers all over Australia have voiced disgust with animal cruelty that occurs anywhere, any time, and do whatever it takes to stop it. At no time did Nicolle Flint suggest cruelty is acceptable, and to claim she did is ridiculous.

That someone as supposedly well educated and supposedly well spoken as Alastair Lucas, and presumably working in fields requiring traits such as:

  • objectivity
  • respect for the opinions of others
  • rational thought and speech
  • ability to consider a wide range of issues to aim for the best long-term outcome

wrote a letter like that – is just amazing. Talk about lose the plot!  His emotive letter is far less objective than that which he criticises.

PS: Note added, 16 June 2013:  A month after the above blog post was written, Landline ran a feature story, “Animals Australia under the microscope“.  It featured several interviews with entirely logical inclusions, including Animals Australia Campaign Director, Lyn White.  However Alistair Lucas was also interviewed at length regarding his views on animal welfare. Given that he holds no particular position in Animals Australia (apart from being just one of many donors) and apparently has absolutely zero experience with any kind of agriculture; livestock raising or otherwise; his inclusion in this story (bound by time constraints as every television feature must be) is indeed puzzling.  It would have made sense if he was asked the obvious, illuminating questions; eg regarding the above-mentioned letter in The Age, but he was not.  What was most concerning of all was that the interviewer failed to ask Alistair Lucas whether the Burnett Institute for Medical Research tests on animals, and if so, how he reconciles this activity and his Chairmanship with his stated view of animal’s “sentience and capacity for suffering”.  Asking this question would provide a classic illustration of the average animal rights zealot’s hypocrisy.

Unfortunately the Australian media continues to spout the views of people well known in one field, talking about an entirely different subject about which they know diddly squat, as if their opinion on everything under the sun has more weight than a view expressed by any other member of the general public – and even those who specialise in the particular field being talked about.  Perhaps the highest profile example of this stupidity was  Cate Blanchett’s payment by the Federal Government (taxpayers) to wax lyrical on the carbon tax.  When the general public dared to voice objections to the fact that someone skilled at acting was being presented as an expert on a scientific topic they had no knowledge of, a particular strata of society (a typical example here on Mamamia) claimed it was due to sour grapes/jealousy/tall poppy syndrome. I.e. Cate Blanchett was being criticised because she was ‘rich’, ‘well known’, a woman…etc  – when in fact the Australian public are increasingly sick of being lectured by well known people on topics they know nothing about.

Here’s a tip for those in the media that need it: someone who is so good in one field they become really well known; became so good because they’re a specialist. Thus they are LESS likely to have talent across a range of fields than Joe Blow down the street, because they’ve been single mindedly pursuing one field to the necessary exclusion of others.  If you’re interviewing a chef, ask them about cooking (not agricultural production systems); if you’re interviewing an investment banker, ask them about finance, as that’s the only topic they’re qualified to comment on!  Sure ask them about other topics if it’s a biographical piece as distinct from a news story; but don’t trot their views out on everything under the sun as if it’s expert opinion, and for goodness sake ask people to explain unsupported views, if you’re going to publicise them!

Continue to treat the public as fools, and people will increasingly turn to alternative news sources.

PS: And here’s an excellent Australian Farm Institute letter , written by Mick Keogh, in response to Australian Financial Review journalist Tony Boyd’s recent article in which he stated: Ludwig’s subsidy of the rural sector is in keeping with Australia’s long-held tradition of propping up uneconomic rural operations. No other sector of the economy is given the latitude to run itself into the ground and then stick its hand out for government assistance.

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