A leaked letter today reveals the Turnbull Government has turned a deliberate blind eye to animal welfare warnings in the live export industry.
The Coalition Government has:
- Ignored both industry and animal welfare group warnings of systemic failure;
- Delayed the review of the Australian Standards for Livestock Export (ASEL);
- Rejected Labor’s commitment for a review of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS);
- Abolished Labor’s Inspector General of Animal Welfare;
- Rejected Labor’s proposal for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare;
- Rejected regular Ministerial reports to Parliament on investigations into reported breaches;
- Abolished the Australia Animal Welfare Advisory Committee;
- De-funded the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy;
- Abolished the Animal Welfare Unit within the Department of Agriculture; and
- Allowed exemptions from animal welfare standards without review and sun-setting clauses.
Ongoing reform and strengthening oversight in the live export sector came to a halt when the Abbott/Turnbull Government was elected.
When Labor announced its 6 Point Plan for Animal Welfare during the 2016 Election Campaign, Barnaby Joyce reacted with condemnation and declared a link between Labor’s 2011 live export suspension and asylum seeker arrivals.
Belatedly, the Turnbull Government has commissioned four reviews into the regulation of the industry, but the timeframe on some of these mean they will not be complete until after the next election.
Labor repeats its call for sheep exports to be suspended until the review into the northern summer trade is complete.
The Turnbull Government must do at least four additional things today:
- Appoint an Interim Inspector General of Animal Welfare;
- Bring the belated ASEL Review forward (currently not due to report until mid-2019);
- Relace Barnaby Joyce’s hand-picked ASEL Review Chair (former Liberal Senator Chris Back) with someone truly independent; and
- Embrace Labor’s commitment to an Australian Meat Industry Plan to increase value-adding in Australia and to employ more Australians
The time for talk is past.
It’s time to take real action to address animal welfare concerns; rebuild community trust in the red meat sector; and to grow value and jobs here in Australia.