Kangaroo response

16 April 2003

It is with considerable concern that we have read the article: Animal rights protestors target Adidas. It is definitely not a commentary but literally a promotion of campaign detail that is on the Viva website. This article as printed certainly brings into question our association's deepest concerns that a magazine such as yours does not protect its constituency but is seen to promote misinformed anti-leather organisations such as Viva. The article puts your credibility under scrutiny from leather producers….in particular the Australian companies who advertise with you. To provide a correct viewpoint on this subject, there are reams of information available from government as well as industry association sources and if your magazine had contemplated a fair and balanced article, then such information which is concise and accurate can be readily sourced. Not withstanding that your researchers have not bothered to avail themselves of the facts, there are numerous government press releases which are in the public domain which also refute the very comments that you see fit to publish as fact. John Gorman President, AHSLEA Response I am sorry that my handling of the Viva press release has caused so much concern in the Australian leather industry. We have written exhaustively in the past about the machinations of PETA and the damage caused to the Indian leather industry by distorted 'facts' and downright lies which such organisations use to get their message across. With this in mind, I wanted to show that it does not end there and anyone might be the next target. I assumed, wrongly as it seems, that readers of the magazine would realise I was simply reporting what was going on and leaving them to make up their own minds. I am sure that few in the industry are unaware of the very strict rules that various countries apply to culling and hunting of various wild and semi wild species. The industry as a whole needs to get their side of the story across to the general public to counter these attacks. If the industry reacted strongly to my reporting of the Viva press release, what effect must this have on the ultimate consumer? The leather industry knows that the reality is very different. But the claims these people make are very very damaging to the industry. The piece was written as a news story because the organisation were holding demonstrations around the world. It was never intended as a balanced article. I realise that publishing an article in Leather International will not get the message across to the ultimate consumers of finished products but it might help spark further debate in the global leather industry as to how they can act in concert to promote a positive image of themselves. According to Australia's federal agricultural minister Warren Truss, Kangaroo products are sustainable, versatile and humane. 'Animal welfare lobbyists have a role but if they want to be effective, they must be honest and get their facts right.' Sadly, the true nature of leather as a byproduct of the meat industry has not prevented PETA from causing many important global retailers to ban the sale of goods made from Indian leather. Truss says: 'At risk are the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly in drought stricken rural and regional areas and Australia's reputation as a responsible and humane custodian of its natural resources. 'Australia's kangaroo industry is an important and growing regional employer and it is extremely disappointing to see its export potential threatened by dishonest comments about welfare standards and sustainability. 'Harvesting is closely regulated and monitored and the welfare aspects are also tightly controlled.' Shelagh Davy

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