The issue of live export of Australian sheep is complex and requires a considered response by government.
No-one condones the mistreatment of animals and I was appalled by the video footage of sheep suffering in poor conditions taken in August 2017.
Animal cruelty in any circumstance is abhorrent and must be condemned.
Our government is determined to make the trade accountable for its actions.
The government recently released the findings of the Moss Review which was commissioned in April by the Minister for Agriculture & Water Resources, David Littleproud.
The review by Phillip Moss investigated the culture and capability of the regulator of live exports, the Department of Agriculture.
The government has accepted all 31 recommendations of the review including the following:
• an external, independent Inspector General of Live Exports will oversee the department’s regulation of live export and report to the public and the Minister;
• a Principal Regulatory Officer within the department to improve regulatory practice, compliance and its culture as regulator;
• an animal welfare branch will be created within the department and the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of compliance systems; and
• the department will improve systems to allow concerns raised by staff members (including about animal welfare) to be addressed transparently and promptly.
These actions follow Minister Littleproud’s move to put independent observers on each sheep vessel to the Middle East and changes implemented after the McCarthy Review, which included a 28 per cent reduction in stocking densities and speeding up the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock to the end of 2018.
It should be noted that Australia imposes more rigorous animal welfare standards than any other country exporting live animals. It is our strong intention to hold the trade to account in a manner that places animal welfare as the highest priority.