Shake-up for live exports

By Country News

An independent inspector-general will oversee Australia’s live export industry as part of a major reset of the under-fire trade.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last Wednesday released Philip Moss’ long- awaited review of the culture, capability and investigative capacity of his department.

The external inspector-general will oversee the department’s regulation of live animal exports, reporting to the minister and publicly.

There will also be a principal regulatory officer within the department to improve regulatory practice, compliance and its culture.

Within the department, an animal welfare branch will be established and new welfare indicators will be introduced along the supply chain.

‘‘Compliance and regulation should not be a bureaucratic tick box — to change culture, the light needs to be shone onto animal welfare and the threat of being caught and punished needs to be real,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

Systems will be improved to ensure concerns raised by staff members are addressed transparently and promptly.

Labor proposed the idea of an inspector-general in 2013, but former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce dumped it when the Coalition won government.

‘‘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 Littleproud said.

‘‘Mr Moss recommends it so I’m doing it. I don’t give a stuff who claims the credit.’’

Mr Littleproud said Australians were appalled in April when they saw footage of 2400 sheep dying on voyages to the Middle East during a shipment in August 2017.

That sparked turmoil in the industry, with calls to phase out the trade from Labor, the Greens and some Liberal backbenchers.

‘‘Australians need to be confident the independent regulator of the live export industry will hold the industry to account,’’ the minister said.