UPDATE 8 APRIL 2019: DAIRY COW DEATHS AND SUFFERING IN SRI LANKA
The Dairy Cow Program was made possible by a facility provided by the Morrison Government’s Export Finance Insurance Corporation.
The recent footage showing death and animal suffering raises legitimate questions about whether the breed of dairy cow being exported is capable of thriving in the climatic conditions in Sri Lanka. Further, it appears that in-country extension services in Sri Lanka have been hopelessly inadequate.
The Sri Lanka incident has highlighted a gap in the regulatory regime. It offers no assurances on animal welfare for the export of non-slaughter animals. A Shorten Labor Government will address that gap.
We will also review the powers in the relevant legislation which currently denies the Regulator any power to test the likely welfare outcomes of non-slaughter live animals in export markets when issuing an export permit.
Despite Minister Littleproud’s huffing and puffing, it is clear the Morrison Government is still not taking animal welfare issues seriously.
UPDATE 26 MARCH 2019
Despite Labor’s best efforts, the Morrison Government has given the green light to the re-commencement live sheep exports in some of the hottest northern hemisphere summer months. The unfortunate decision runs against the Government’s own expert advice.
And now they plan to spend $2.2 million of taxpayers’ money on a research project in an attempt to work around the scientific conclusions of its own reviews of the live sheep trade.
The Government has gone from ignoring the science to fighting the science.
After investing in five costly reports including one by an Independent Heat Stress Risk Assessment Technical Reference Panel, the Government wants industry to invent a dehumidification machine to beat the wet bulb test which the experts say is the right measure of animal welfare.
The $2.2 million should be used to help sheep farmers make the transition to domestic processing and higher value product markets. That’s more jobs in Australia.
UPDATE 6 MARCH 2019
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon MP, has called on the Morrison Government to come clean and release both the Heat Stress Risk Assessment for live exports review report and the Independent Pegasus report into the Biosecurity Import Levy.
Minister Littleproud extended the submission deadline for the Heat Stress Risk Assessment for live sheep exports review until 1 March 2019 and stated that “Interim arrangements for the coming Northern summer can be considered once the submission period has ended.”
This time has come and gone and the Northern summer is just around the corner, sheep farmers, exporters and the broader Australian community want to know what the Government will do to ensure the welfare of Australian sheep.
The Pegasus report was commissioned to provide the Minister for Agriculture an independent perspective to the consultation process for the implementation of the Biosecurity Import Levy. It was provided to the Minister last week at a cost of $45,000 dollars, but once again the Morrison Government is choosing to keep it a secret.
If the Morrison Government continues to keep both reports a secret the Australian community will have little choice but to believe the Government’s actions are covering up calls for significant change to both the live sheep export trade and to the design and implementation of the Biosecurity Import Levy.
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.