The nation’s animal welfare regime will come under scrutiny in a government probe into the domestic livestock industry amid a continuing backlash against the $1 billion live-export trade and a backbench push for tougher rules for farmers, transport companies and abattoirs.
The Gillard government has called for tenders to review the formation of the animal welfare guidelines – which govern the handling, transport and slaughter of livestock around the country – and how they can be improved.
The investigation comes just weeks before the Labor caucus is presented with a model for a federal independent office of animal welfare to oversee the industry.
Tender documents seen by The Australian call for an organisation to conduct a three-month review of the standards development process, including identifying the strengths and weakness of the current model and providing better options.
“A number of concerns have been expressed about the current animal welfare standards development process, including the level of ambition in the standards,” the tender reads.
“(As well as) their timely development process for policy decision-making, the means for engaging stakeholders, the timing and process for regulation impact assessment and the consistency between standards regulatory arrangements.” The regulation review was signed off by the animal welfare subcommittee of the state and federal agriculture ministers council. The findings will be reported to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association executive director Luke Bowen welcomed the review, saying the guidelines affected all aspects of the livestock industry so how they were developed was very important.
“I think it is important to have national standards that are sensible,” he said yesterday.
“And in the development of those national standards, it is critical for those with an interest in animal welfare to have a seat around the table.”
The review comes amid five government investigations into reported mistreatment of Australian animals overseas and increasing momentum to ban the live-export trade.
The inquiries include examining claims sheep were sold in unaccredited marketplaces in Kuwait, the suspicious deaths in Mauritius of 65 cattle, some of which were pregnant, and the brutal culling of thousands of sheep in Pakistan amid a trade dispute.
Julia Gillard and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig have faced a revolt in Labor ranks over the live-export issue since their decision to reopen the trade to Indonesia after a month-long suspension in June 2011.
A working group of concerned Labor MPs is also due to present a model for a separate federal body to monitor animal welfare standards to caucus by the end of the month.Source: The Australian – “Livestock standards for review”
- Greens call for more scrutiny of abattoirs to protect animals (smh.com.au)
- ‘Brutality’ to Australian sheep in Kuwait (news.theage.com.au)
- Animal welfare researchers must be honest about motivations (theconversation.edu.au)
- Australia asked to keep the peace after Sea Shepherd rammed by whaling ship near Antarctica (craighill.net)