Live export standards review to finish early without Back as chairman

Sheep Central, May 24, 2018

Former WA senator Dr Chris Back.

A REVIEW of Australia’s standards for livestock exports will be completed this year, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud announced today.

Mr Littleproud said the current review into the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock, formerly due at the end of 2019, will now be finished by the end of 2018.

A statement from Mr Littleproud also said the review technical advisory committee’s chair, former Western Australian senator and veterinarian Dr Chris Back, has notified the Department of Agriculture he is unable to continue in the role, due to the shortened timeframe and competing time commitments.

Mr Littleproud said a replacement chair will be announced in the near future and thanked Mr Back for his contribution thus far.

No reason for bringing the review forward has been given; however, Mr Littleproud has faced criticism from the Opposition’s shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon over the review’s former timeframe.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the  Australian Labor Party welcomed the government’s announcement to bring forward the ASEL review and replace Mr Back.

“The review of ASEL has been delayed by this Government for three years, waiting another twelve months was an unacceptable outcome,” he said.

“Former Senator Back was a Barnaby Joyce appointment.

“Labor believes that the review committee should be led by someone truly independent of the live sheep trade.”

Animal activists have also criticised Dr Back’s appointment to the review role due to his long-time support of the live export industry and his promotion of legislation designed to thwart extended undercover activist campaigns against livestock cruelty. Dr Back’s initial appointment was supported by the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council.

The other advisory committee members are animal health and welfare experts Dr Teresa Collins and Dr Hugh Millar, regulation specialist Russell Phillips and livestock export industry expert Kevin Shiell.

ASEL is mandated by the Federal Government and regulates the handling of animals in Australia’s livestock export supply chains, from pre-export preparation to the point of discharge in the importing country.

Earlier this year Department of Agriculture and Water Resources deputy secretary Malcolm Thompson said the committee will work closely with a reference group of key stakeholders, including Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the RSPCA, livestock producer bodies and the Australian Veterinary Association to ensure the standards consider livestock industry innovation and development, along with the latest animal health and welfare research.

The committee will ultimately provide recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Committee members are appointed for two years and public consultation was scheduled to start in early 2018.


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  1. Trish Brown, May 30, 2018

    Hi there Ted Atkins. It seems that you don’t quite get it by suggesting that the deaths of 2400 sheep was an accident. Are high temperatures of over 40 degrees in Middle Eastern countries between the months of May to late August an accident? I don’t think so.
    All you have to do is go to Meat & Livestock Australia’s and Livecorp’s annual reports and you will read the warnings that are given to exporters that these months are high mortality months for livestock to be shipped to the Middle East. If you care to go the Animals Australia website who have publicised mortality rates for nearly two decades you will see that most deaths occur in these months of shipments.
    As for your suggestion that shipping standards have improved; well, you are living in La- La Land. These ships are a bloody disgrace and deathtrap for all animals. I have seen this for myself, because I have been on a live export ship while it was loading sheep and cattle in the Port of Fremantle in 2003. What I saw, I reported to the Minister of Agriculture who was horrified that I had been able to get on this ship, the MV Bader III.
    What did he do when he read my report? He banned all members of the public to ever be allowed on a live export ship and gave the head of the Australian Marine Safety Authority a roasting for allowing me to board this vessel.

  2. Jennifer MacDougall, May 28, 2018

    So good riddance to Mr Back, the biggest cheerleader for the live export industry that Barnaby could find. But no doubt Littleproud will make sure he appoints someone from the industry, so no change in the so-called standards. But in any case, this is a waste of money as this trade should just be banned. Fiddling with the edges yet again.
    And who is Littleproud’s chief of staff, formerly a chair of Livecorp I read? Will that person be invited to suggest replacements for this so-called review? It’s just another waste of money, like the McCarthy Review, which did nothing for the animals and this review will not either. A bloody disgrace the whole rotten industry and all the in-house back stroking with paid positions to support it, no matter what the outcome for the animals. Someone should advise Littleproud on the meaning of the word ‘independent’, as clearly he has no idea what that actually means.

  3. Ted Watkins, May 27, 2018

    Well said to the above contributors. If they are that stridently opposed to the trade, how about coming up with a feasible alternative. Saudi imports more sheep than anybody and guess what, they don’t get any from Australia. They source them from other countries with questionable standards. So, is it better to condemn someone else’s livestock and lower the bar for the balance of the industry?
    The fact of the matter is Australia is actually setting a very high standard with its shipping program, thus raising the bar for the whole industry. Sure it’s unacceptable for 2400 sheep to die in such awful conditions, but it was beyond the shipper’s control. Just as when the Titanic sank; it was an accident.

  4. Trish Brown, May 26, 2018

    One of the committee members Kevin Sheil was on the Livecorp board in 2003 and remained there for many years. For those who do not know, Livecorp is a huge company owned by all the exporters. To be on the board you have to be a member so Sheil, no doubt, had an exporting licence and may still have one. Conflict of interest? That’s for sure. As for Chris Back’s resignation from the committee — such good news.

  5. Julie smithS, May 25, 2018

    These companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Australian government defending the bulk of profit on 250 million trade going to Middle Eastern and related companies which keep costs down by ignoring animal cruelty laws, claim Kuwait government subsidies for meat processing and then sell to other countries.

  6. Marianne Coutant, May 25, 2018

    All this money being filched to pay for review after review when the industry has clearly lost its social licence. Why? When will the government wake up to the fact this industry is barbaric, cruel and out of date. Time to move on Littleproud and ban live exports.

  7. Elizabeth Shanahan, May 25, 2018

    Are they actually going to do something to stop this barbaric trade or are they having a lend of us? Truly I can’t believe anything these people say.

  8. Irina Tennant, May 25, 2018

    It makes me so angry, while you’re all fiddling with so-called reports, sheep and other animals are being abused. It’s a national disgrace.

  9. Katrina Love, May 25, 2018

    Any government review process into ASEL or ESCAS or any other legislation and/or regulations affecting non-human animals, yet not having input from Animals Australia, is not seriously “working with key stakeholders”.

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