INDEPENDENT oversight of live animal exports will be enhanced with an external Inspector General of Live Animal Exports, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has announced this morning.
The Inspector General position to oversee the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ regulation of live export and report to the public and the minister is a key recommendation in the Moss Review report released today.
“The live export industry needs a tough cop on the beat and the department must become a capable, trusted and effective regulator,” he said.
The review into the culture, capability and investigative capacity of the regulator of live exports has also recommended that a principal regulatory officer and animal welfare branch be created within department.
Mr Littleproud said in releasing the Moss report and supporting its recommendations that he was resetting the live export industry to make it more sustainable.
He will bring forward legislative amendments to establish the Inspector General position and also called on Labor to give a written guarantee they will support his Bills to double penalties for live export animal cruelty without political amendments, through both houses of Parliament.
The Australian Labor Party has been seeking re-establishment of an independent animal welfare inspector-general, but Mr Littleproud said he had supported Moss’ recommendation of the Inspector General position.
“I specifically asked Mr Moss to consider an Inspector General in his review, and I said at the time I don’t care who thought of the idea.
“Mr Moss recommends it so I’m doing it,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I don’t give a stuff who claims the credit.”
“Australians were appalled in April when they saw footage of sheep dying on voyages to the Middle East during a shipment in August 2017, and further angered at their assessment the report of the incident did not match the footage,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Australians need to be confident the independent regulator of the live export industry will hold the industry to account.
“It was clear we needed an independent inquiry into the culture and capability of the regulator,” he said.
“I said in April I was determined to clean this industry up and make it sustainable, because so many farm families and rural towns rely on it.
“I followed through on the McCarthy Review into the northern summer trade and today I follow through on the Moss Review into the regulation of the industry, accepting all recommendations.”
Mr Littleproud has announced:
- An external, independent Inspector General of Live Animal Exports who will oversee the Department’s regulation of live export and report to the public and the Minister
- A principal regulatory officer within the department to improve regulatory practice, compliance and its culture as regulator
- An animal welfare branch within the department and the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of compliance systems
- That the department will improve systems to allow concerns raised by staff members to be addressed transparently and promptly.
Mr Littleproud said the principal regulatory officer will be key in driving cultural change within the department as well as improving compliance and investigations.
“I accept Mr Moss’s recommendation the regulator of the live export trade have an animal welfare branch and introduce animal welfare indicators along the supply chain as part of the regulatory framework.
“Compliance and regulation should not be a bureaucratic tick box – to change culture, the light needs to be shone onto animal welfare andthe threat of being caught and punished needs to be real,” he said.
“Employees of the department need to be confident their concerns about animal welfare will be taken seriously and the Department will improve systems that encourage this.
“I thank Mr Moss for his review and look forward to implementing his recommendations.”
These actions follow Minister Littleproud’s move to put independent observers on each sheep vessel to the Middle East and changes implemented after the McCarthy Review, which included a 28 percent reduction in stocking densities and speeding up the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock to the end of 2018.
Exporters welcome industry reform measures
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council independent chairman Simon Crean said in April, exporters called for the introduction of an Inspector General to oversee independence and cultural change in the industry and to work constructively with exporters to improve animal welfare outcomes.
“That reform is part of a suite of initiatives endorsed by ALEC in April targeting major cultural change in the industry and the strengthening of welfare accountability.
“The minister’s announcements today reflect clear alignment in terms of industry reform and enhancing regulatory transparency.”
Mr Crean said exporters have demonstrated a willingness to reform to secure a sustainable future for the livestock export industry and to ensure producers who rely on the trade have certainty and confidence for the future.
He said ALEC welcomed measures to improve systems to allow concerns raised by DAWR staff to be addressed transparently and promptly. Mr Crean also restated ALEC’s support for the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of regulatory compliance systems.
“ALEC’s number priority is best practice in animal welfare – poor welfare outcomes are never acceptable.
“That’s why as an industry we’re working with the researchers to define the welfare measures and to apply the technology to better monitor livestock in our supply chains,” he said.
“Concurrent with regulatory reform, industry must play the leading role in building a culture and vision that supports improved animal welfare outcomes, in alignment with the best available science and community values.
“We’ll work with all those who are committed to improved welfare practices because we are determined to achieve ongoing improvements, built on the genuine care producers, exporters and importers have for the animals in our supply chains. That commitment is reflected in our work to introduce the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP).”
LGAP is designed to deliver improved Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) compliance by applying responsibility for welfare across international livestock export supply chains.
“LGAP is underpinned by our commitment to major change and long-term sustainability,” Mr Crean said.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the minister, the regulator and other industry stakeholders, to adopt ongoing reforms, including on the introduction of LGAP.”
The Moss Review report and government’s official response can be found at www.agriculture.gov.au/moss-review
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