The Moss Review report into the capability and culture of the live export regulator is a damning critique of former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s reckless administration of the regulation of the live export trade. The Review was commissioned in response to revelations of animal cruelty in the live sheep export sector.
Whilst Labor welcomes the Government’s decision to accept the recommendation to re-establish the position of Inspector General of Live Exports, we will continue to push the Morrison Government for further reforms needed to restore confidence in the live export regulator.
The fact is Labor created the Inspector General position but, following the 2013 election, Barnaby Joyce abolished the Statutory Officer position together with the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy and the Animal Welfare Unit within the Department of Agriculture. The Moss Review highlighted the significant adverse impact on animal welfare of these decisions by Barnaby Joyce, supported by both former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.
The Review’s findings were nothing short of extraordinary. It painted a picture of abject policy failure and budget savings measures which gutted the capacity of the Department of Agriculture to undertake its key tasks. It exposed a culture within the regulator which favoured the industry and profits over animal welfare standards and left key staff too scared to report breaches.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has now asked the former head of the Australian Crime Commission, John Lawler, to investigate seven allegations made by staff who previously worked in the animal welfare branch which were reported to Philip Moss in the course of his review.
Labor will look closely at all the Moss Review recommendations but they have our in principle support.
Labor also acknowledges that the McCarthy Review report concluded that the live export industry was at a crossroads and that significant changes are required to maintain the health and welfare of sheep being exported to the Middle East. These changes will impact on the viability of the live sheep export trade and, based on the scientific evidence from the Australian Veterinary Association, Labor cannot continue to support the long term future of the live sheep export trade.
The focus must be on a immediate ban on the Northern Hemisphere summer trade and a transition away from live sheep exports to maximise value-adding opportunities and jobs here in Australia.
It is clear that the only way to phase out the cruel live sheep trade is to elect a Shorten Labor Government.
Labor has listened to the overwhelming community concerns and the scientific experts and we will continue the fight to put an end to live sheep exports.