Laws to toughen

By Country News

Live exporters who put financial gain ahead of animal welfare will be named, shamed and face jail under harsh new penalties proposed by the Federal Government.

Fines of at least $4.2million for companies and $2.1million for individuals are tough enough to not be seen as a cost of doing business, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.

Individuals who break the new laws could also feel the ‘‘full force’’ of prison terms of up to 10 years, he said.

The draft laws follow the inquiry into sheep exports to the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

It would become an offence to obstruct or hinder a vet or livestock officer, or dishonestly influence anyone involved in an export program.

Exporters who commit an offence with the intention of obtaining financial advantage over competitors, or cause ‘‘economic consequences’’ to Australia would also face penalties.

Courts would also be given powers to name and shame a person found guilty, or forced to pay civil penalties.

‘‘For those who seek to flout our laws, the full force of those laws will be felt,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

The penalties include:

■Up to 10 years in prison or a $2.1million fine for a company director convicted of the new offences.

■Up to 10 years in prison or a $420000 fine for other individuals.

■Penalties for companies up to $4.2million, three times the benefit gained or 10 per cent of the company’s turnover — whichever is greater.

Labor MP Ed Husic labelled the bill a ‘‘sell-out’’.

The federal Opposition is backing Liberal MP Sussan Ley’s bill to phase out live sheep exports to the Middle East over five years.