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New Role to Strengthen Animal Welfare

05 August 2013

AUSTRALIA – A new government role within animal welfare assurance, created to secure treatment standards for live exports has caused disharmony among producers.

The Independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports is a statutory position reporting to the Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbon, who explained the position at the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy National Workshop in Surfers Paradise.

Farmers in Victoria have reacted angrily to the handling of the announcement and the lack of information made public. 

Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has called for the apopintment to be delayed until;

  • The role has been more clearly defined
  • The state governments have been consulted to determine how the inspector-general’s role fits in with their responsibilities and legislation.
  • All livestock sectors have been given adequate time to analyse the role.

Livestock President Ian Feldtmann described the actions of the government as 'a rushed decision that's left us cold." 

“We’ve only been given half the information on the Inspector-General’s role, so how can we or anyone else for that matter make a decision on whether we support or oppose it," said Mr Feldtmann

“It’s yet another example of the Rudd Government making a decision on the run. This Government has a history of rushing decisions that have cost us all very dearly. So why are we leaping into this one?" 

The Independent Inspector-General builds on measures already put in place by the Australian Government to regulate animal welfare in the live animal export trade, including:

  • The implementation of a world-leading animal welfare assurance system, known as the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS)
  • Funding a range of projects to strengthen the implementation and delivery of ESCAS both domestically and internationally, including workshops with exporters to build community attitudes; and
  • Ensuring Australia has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with new markets that take our livestock.
  • Tackling animal export welfare has been a priority for Minister Fitgibbon since he took office .

However, he has assured that appointing an inspector general would not create any unnecessary red-tape.

He stressed the high standards being practiced in Australia and called the new role a ‘sensible extension’ to the nation’s welfare portfolio.

Minister Fitzgibbon said: “The Independent Inspector-General will audit and review the live animal export regulator across the supply chain, including our investigation and compliance procedures, adding an important layer of independence to the regulatory system to ensure it delivers animal welfare outcomes.”

The Inspector-General will also be responsible for reviewing two national animal welfare committees and ensuring they deliver against their workplans.

Draft legislation will now be developed to define the scope and appropriate powers of the new role.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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