One of Australia's greatest shames is the kangaroo‑killing industry. I have seen joeys bludgeoned to death, their small bodies discarded by the side of bush tracks, bashed and mutilated; kangaroos with their heads cut off, cut further down their body depending on how inaccurate the shot was; and bodies of kangaroos in chiller boxes, infested with maggots and flies, ready to be picked up for processing. And what is it all for? It is for pet foods, sausages and kangaroo leather to make a bloody pair of shoes.
There are so many reasons not to wear kangaroo leather, eat kangaroo flesh or feed it to companion animals. The simple fact that the national code of practice allows a joey to be pulled from its dead mother's pouch and killed with blunt force trauma to destroy their brain says it all. Kangaroo meat is legalised cruelty. It is hard to believe, but shooting a mother and smashing her baby's head in is sanctioned by this Government. In fact, it is all in a day's work in the Australian kangaroo industry. It is truly heartbreaking that that is how we have chosen to treat sentient animals, particularly one of our iconic native animals. Part of the problem is that the industry is hidden. The killing happens in remote areas in the dead of night, far from any oversight and from the community, who would be horrified to know what is going on.
While I am talking about kangaroos, I pay tribute to the work of my colleague the Hon. Mark Pearson and his team as well as the Animal Justice Party NSW—and in particular our State director, Louise Ward, and volunteer Greg Keightley—for all the work they have done to expose the industry. The inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in New South Wales was groundbreaking and exposed the full extent of the harm being caused by the industry, including the serious and systemic flaws in the way that kangaroo populations numbers are counted and the lack of oversight by the department and the New South Wales Government over that hidden industry.
The kangaroo-killing industry is the largest commercial, land-based wildlife massacre in the world, and it is an international embarrassment for Australia. That is why a bill to ban the trade of kangaroo parts was introduced to the US congress earlier this year. In Russia, kangaroo imports are banned due to unacceptable levels of E. coli bacteria—a disease risk that further exposes the problems with the industry. It is important to highlight that the kangaroo leather industry is no better. Anyone who buys or sells kangaroo leather cannot escape that simple fact. The commercial kangaroo killing industry has no government oversight and there are no welfare checks.
It is no different to the bludgeoning of baby harp seals in Canada, which Australians often detest. It is easy to point the finger and highlight the cruel treatment of animals overseas, but what is happening in our own backyard is just as cruel, gruesome and horrifying. If you are going to wear kangaroo skin soccer shoes, you may as well wear a baby harp seal jacket. Those who wear or sell kangaroo leather can be sure the animals died a violent and brutal death, and they are contributing towards pushing a native Australian animal into a major decline in numbers. That massacre is a terrible price to pay for a pair of shoes.
Companies like Nike, which continue to use kangaroo skin to make some of its shoes, should know better and must turn its back on the cruel industry. The cruelty of the industry can no longer be kept secret in Australia. The world is becoming aware of exactly what is happening. Unless Nike makes the compassionate choice, its brand will be tarnished by the cruelty that it is supporting. When one has seen the brutality of the industry, the leather shoes that are displayed in shops and worn in public as if they are symbols of something other than extreme cruelty is more than just heartbreaking, it defies belief. No business can call itself an ethical business if it supports that cruelty. It is time to bring to light what has been done in the dark. We must put an end to this shameful industry.
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