The export of greyhounds (particularly to Macau) has been a controversial issue for some time. Whilst the Agriculture Minister sees the Government’s role in this matter being limited to issuing export permits for dogs under the Export Control Act 1982, it is of concern to Labor that Australian animal welfare standards are not met upon arrival overseas.
Labor’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon, has been in discussions with Greyhounds Australasia, as the representative body for greyhound racing in Australia and New Zealand, as to appropriate legislative or regulatory measures the Government could introduce to ensure better animal welfare outcomes.
The industry body has developed a greyhound passport scheme which approves exports only to jurisdictions that are assessed as compliant with GA’s own Required Standard for Countries Seeking to Import Australian Greyhounds. In response to an assessment of Macau’s animal welfare standards, Greyhounds Australasia has suspended the processing of passport applications to Macau. However the current scheme cannot be enforced outside of the Australian greyhound racing industry, allowing non-compliant operators to continue to export animals.
Greyhounds Australasia is disappointed with the Agriculture Minister’s unwillingness to support legislative or regulatory change, potentially through amendment to the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004, to prevent rogue operators.
It is important that the Turnbull Government, including Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, understands the importance of animal welfare for the Australian community. Labor will continue to pursue this issue through Senate Estimates process. Labor also remains committed to re-establishing the position of Inspector General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports.
More recently, Australians will have been shocked by the ABC 7.30 program report on greyhound exports. That's why Barnaby Joyce's unwillingness to act is so bewildering.
The industry’s leadership shares community concern and has acted by asking the Turnbull Government to make the “passport” system mandatory. Unfortunately, to date Barnaby Joyce has refused to meet with the industry to discuss better welfare outcomes for greyhounds.
The "passport" system introduced by Greyhounds Australasia requires exporters to meet animal welfare standards before exports are approved. But Greyhounds Australasia can only impose the "passport" system on its members. Non-members are free to do the wrong thing.
The Government could move to make the "passport" system mandatory for all exporters but Barnaby Joyce won't have a bar of it.
Labor has pursued the “passport” system through Senate Estimates recently and was disappointed that the Minister’s Department took many of the questions on notice regarding advice they have provided to the Minister or discussions they have had with the Greyhound industry.
It is the industry and Labor on one side and Malcolm Turnbull’s Government on the other.