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The Courier Mail (2005)
Oscar nominee fighting farm 'cruelty'
July 01, 2005 | Written by Peter Mitchell
Actor and animal lover Toni Collette has been recruited by US animal rights activists in their fight against Australian wool farmers.

The Sydney-born Oscar nominee has written a letter on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to Prime Minister John Howard, demanding mulesing and the live export of sheep be banned.

"We knew she was an animal lover so we contacted her about the cruelty involved in the Australian wool industry," New York-based PETA spokesman Michael McGraw said.

"We knew it would be an issue dear to her heart and she agreed to become involved."

In the signed letter to Mr Howard, Collette referred in graphic detail to the "unimaginably cruel procedure" of mulesing.

"Sheep are flipped on to their backs and strapped down so that huge chunks of skin and flesh can be cut from their backsides, without any painkillers whatsoever," Collette wrote.

"The exposed wounds often become infected or infested with maggots, the very problem that the practice is supposed to prevent."

Collette also went into detail about Australia's live export of sheep.

"Discarded by the wool industry, these sheep are crammed aboard massive open-decked ships for a gruelling trip that can last months," the actress, nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1999 for the thriller The Sixth Sense, wrote.

"Thousands die in transit - some are smothered or trampled to death while trying to reach what little food and water is made available, and sick or injured sheep are tossed into grinders while they are still alive or thrown overboard to the sharks."

Collette, 32, ended her letter with a heartfelt plea to Mr Howard.

"As Prime Minister, it is your responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves," she wrote.

"The rest of the world is urging you to show that you are a considerate leader of a humane country."

The issue of mulesing has become prominent among animal rights activists over the past year, with several major fashion labels agreeing to stop using wool from countries which use the technique.

The Australian wool industry argues mulesing is necessary given the climate and more humane than risking a sheep becoming fly-blown