Live export trade moves
The Federal Government will establish an independent inspector-general of live exports after a damning report blasted the Agriculture Department’s repeated failures to police the industry.
The Government has also promised to create an animal welfare branch in the department and vowed to clean up the culture inside the bureaucracy to take a tougher stance against rogue operators.
The so-called Moss report, which was commissioned in the wake of the Awassi Express scandal, suggested that cuts introduced by former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce weakened the department’s enforcement regime — setting the scene for a series of live export incidents.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud promised to accept all recommendations from the review, saying he was determined to clean up the industry and ensure it was able to continue.
The plan for an independent inspector-general had first been put forward by Labor but Mr Littleproud said he did not care who had thought of the idea.
“Compliance and regulation should not be a bureaucratic tick box. To change culture, the light needs to be shone on to animal welfare and the threat of being caught and punished needs to be real,” he said.
The report also called for a principal regulatory officer to be established in the department and said vets working on live export ships should declare conflicts of interest.
The inquiry said a full costrecovery model should be levied on the industry for the changes. The report detailed Mr Joyce, during his time as agriculture minister, abolished department animal welfare units.
It is understood some live exporters protested against the watering down of the department’s policing of animal welfare standards.
The Government has already put new stocking density restrictions on voyages to the Middle East in summer and placed independent observers aboard vessels.
In August, the Agriculture Department stripped the export licence from Perthbased company Emanuel Exports amid outrage over vision released by activists showing animals dying in extreme conditions aboard vessels.
State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the report vindicated the State’s decision to intervene in the animal welfare space.
The National Farmers Federation said the changes would improve the regulator’s capability and culture and ultimately increase confidence in the regulation of live exports.
Live exporter Wellard warned that the Government risked “regulating for the lowest common denominator”, complaining changes would create more bureaucracy and raise costs for companies.
Sheep bound for export.