Here’s one way of muting Kedgley

Perhaps we should ship the Greens” Sue Kedgley to Saudi Arabia. Or anywhere.

That way, we would be rid of her constant bleating about farm practices, and seriously reduce the shrillness levels in Wellington at the same time.

Kedgley and a gaggle of animal rights groups are wailing about the Government’s preparing to approve the export of live sheep to the Middle East.

TV3 reported her as saying a “deal that would see our sheep sent on a three- week ocean journey to the Middle East simply to be slaughtered as part of a Hajj festival” is imminent.

Good grief. If the sheep are deprived of the thrill of an ocean voyage to distant shores, they will simply be loaded on to sheep trucks and hauled off to the local meat works to be slaughtered.

The Government knows what’s at stake.

“It would be an important income stream for New Zealanders,” says agriculture minister David Carter. “There’s a particular breed of sheep the Saudi Arabians are interested in obtaining that do exist in New Zealand. If we can provide the security and the safety around the arrangements with the Saudi government, I see it as being another opportunity.”

The animal rights people, on the other hand, raise the prospect of New Zealand’s trading reputation being damaged, with implications for our exports of other goods.

True, New Zealand stopped live exports in 2004 after 5000 sheep died on an Australian ship bound for Saudi Arabia, prompting international disgust.

That’s easy. Send them on ships that aren’t Australian, for starters.

Wouldn’t want Aussies near Alf’s sheep at the best of times.

Anyway, the Government says it is insisting on humane treatment of animals.

“New Zealand will not let live exports leave this country unless we’re assured of their treatment both on water, and also the treatment of animals once they arrive at the destination,” says Mr Carter.

Ele, at Homepaddock, is on the case with good advice.

We are a tiny country with a fraction of the population which would hardly register as a city in many other places. Contrary to the view of the scaremongers, most people don’t spend their lives examining our actions and many probably don’t even know where we are.

That doesn’t mean we should be unconcerned about what other people in other places think of us.Our economic and social well being depend on exports. Markets are fickle and easily swayed by emotion so we must guard against campaigns, overt or covert, which undermine our produce.

But rather than not doing something because of ill-founded fears about our reputation we need to ensure that what we do is done well, and in the case of live exports, with proper safeguards to ensure the humane treatment of the sheep.

One thing should not come into the reckoning: the results of a survey showing only 26% of New Zealanders believe the country’s live sheep trade should resume, according to research from The Nielsen Company.

The programmes manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, a Bridget Vercoe, drew attention to those data when saying the live transport of animals for slaughter is one of the greatest causes of animal suffering in the world.

But making policy by consulting opinion polls is no way to govern.

And as the Key government has been showing in recent days, it has the resolve not to let public opinion get in the way of doing what must be done.

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