A leaked letter today reveals the Turnbull Governmenthas turneda deliberate blind eye to animal welfare warnings in the live export industry.
The CoalitionGovernment has:
- Ignored both industry and animal welfare group warnings of systemic failure;
- Delayed the review of the Australian Standards forLivestockExport(ASEL);
- RejectedLaborscommitment for a review of theExporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS);
- Abolished Labors InspectorGeneralofAnimal Welfare;
- Rejected Labors proposal for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare;
- RejectedregularMinisterial reports toParliament on investigations into reported breaches;
- Abolished the Australia Animal WelfareAdvisory Committee;
- De-funded the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy;
- Abolished the Animal WelfareUnit within the Department of Agriculture; and
- Allowed exemptions from animal welfare standards without review and sun-setting clauses.
Ongoingreform 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 Labors 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 fouradditional things today:
- Appoint an Interim Inspector General of Animal Welfare;
- Bring the belated ASEL Review forward(currently not due to report until mid-2019);
- RelaceBarnaby Joyces hand-picked ASEL Review Chair (former Liberal Senator Chris Back) with someone truly independent; and
- Embrace Labors commitment to an Australian Meat Industry Plan to increase value-adding in Australia and to employ more Australians
The time for talk is past.
Its time to take real actionto address animal welfare concerns; rebuild community trust in the red meat sector; and to grow value and jobs here in Australia.