The right thing, not just something…

By Ruth Limkin

If one is more concerned with being seen to do something, rather than being concerned with doing the right thing, disaster can quickly follow.

The news coming out from the cattle industry is painting a horrific picture of the effects of the Federal government’s knee-jerk reaction to ban the live export industry overnight.

Tragically, families and individuals are financially hurting as costs for feeding and watering stalled cattle grow. Pastoralists face a heartbreaking quandary as costs to transport cattle for slaughter in southern abattoirs are around three times what it cost to export them, and cattle prices are dropping due to oversupply.

Those who argue that all this can be justified for reasons of animal welfare will be devastated to discover that the live export ban has created a situation where animals are likely to experience excruciating suffering.

In The Australian today we read the following:
Northern Territory veterinary surgeon Gehan Jayawardhana, who has worked in the Top End since 1986, said the ban would have a horrific impact on animal welfare in northern Australia, far worse than in some Indonesia abattoirs.

Dr Jayawardhana said he told Julia Gillard last week in Darwin that at least 25,000 cattle would die as a result of the ban, but now believed that figure to be higher.

The main problem was pastoralists would not be able to afford to muster when among other things they take calves off mothers. Calves had to be weaned because there was not enough feed for both to survive in arid regions such as the Kimberley.

“When they get too skinny to stand up, they fall over in creek beds and they cannot get up. It takes about a week to die. It’s absolutely horrendous, crows pick at them and dingoes also start surrounding them,” he said. “It’s horrific. People don’t understand how horrific this is.”

Doing the right thing is more important than just doing something. If we react quickly to placate criticism, we may well end up harming those we mean to help.

Sometimes the quick answer is not the right one. In an instant world there’s often a cost to taking the time to do the right thing.  Good leaders will summon the courage to do just that.