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Animal cruelty in any circumstance is abhorrent and must be condemned.
The Liberal National Government is determined to hold the live export industry accountable for its actions and ensure that if live exports are to continue over the coming northern summer, this is based on significant improvements to animal welfare.
Firstly, the Liberal National Government has accepted all 23 recommendations made by veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy, subject to further testing and consultation of a recommendation to revise the Heat Stress Risk Assessment. The changes to the regulation of the trade will include:
- A reduction in stocking densities so less sheep will be carried on a vessel at any given time. This means sheep will get up to 39 per cent more space and reduce stocking densities by up to 28 per cent.
- The reportable mortality level will be halved from 2 to 1 per cent, which means if more than 1 per cent of sheep die it must be reported and investigated.
- There will be tough new penalties on exporters who put profit before animal welfare and break the rules.
- Independent observers will be placed on every voyage carrying either sheep or cattle - not just the sheep voyages during the northern summer - reporting back daily to the Independent Regulator.
There have been immediate changes that impact on the live sheep export industry during the current Middle Eastern Summer and there will be changes that will be take more time to introduce.
This includes working towards a revised heat stress risk assessment model that focuses on animal welfare, rather than mortality - just because a sheep didn't die doesn't mean it was treated well.
This represents a profound change in the regulatory framework. It will give exporters an incentive to invest in improving boats which improve animal welfare. These actions, along with the placement of independent government observers on all voyages means that the live sheep export industry is facing major change.
The full McCarthy Report can be found at www.agriculture.gov.au/LAE.
Secondly, after the review done by Dr McCarthy the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. David Littleproud MP, also commissioned a review by Phillip Moss AM investigating the culture and capability of the regulator of live export. Resultantly, from this review regulation of live exports will be overhauled as we reset the live export industry onto sustainable footing as the Government has accepted all 31 recommendations.
The changes to the regulation of the trade will include:
- An external, independent Inspector General of Live Exports will oversee the Department’s regulation of live export and report to the public and the Minister
- A Principle Regulatory Officer within the Department to improve regulatory practice, compliance and its culture as regulator
- An animal welfare branch will be created within the Department and the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of compliance systems
- The Department will improve systems to allow concerns about raised by staff members (including about animal welfare) to be addressed transparently and promptly.
The Liberal National Government asked Mr Moss to consider an Inspector General in his review, and we now look forward to implementing it to give the public confidence in the industry. The Government has also called on Labor to give a written guarantee they’ll support Bills to double penalties for live export animal cruelty without political amendments, through both Houses of Parliament. These actions follow Minister Littleproud’s move to speed up the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock to the end of 2018.
The full Moss Report can be found at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/export/moss-review.pdf.
The Liberal National Government supports a sustainable livestock export industry but expects exporters to continue to work hard at meeting their animal welfare responsibilities. A ban on the whole industry would unfairly punish those exporters and farmers who have done no wrong. Many farming families and others in the supply chain remain devastated from the 2011 suspension of live exports. A number of countries around the world have strong cultural preferences for live animals and the Australian livestock export industry is a key player in meeting this market demand. At the same time, the Liberal National Government is strongly committed to the welfare of livestock within the livestock export industry.
The Liberal National Government is currently considering what further measures are required along the entire live export supply chain to improve animal welfare outcomes and regulatory oversight and compliance activities. It is our strong intention to hold the live export industry to account in a manner that places animal welfare as the highest priority.