THE Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AAWAC) is among the 21 non-statutory bodies the federal government is abolishing as part of its drive to cut what it says is “unnecessary and inefficient regulation”.
The government is also amalgamating four bodies with other non-statutory bodies and absorbing the core functions of five bodies “within the relevant department to reduce duplication”.
The AAWAC had a number of roles, including to drive the implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) and identify any issues or gaps in the existing animal welfare system in Australia.
In a statement released today by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, he said the government was determined to deliver on its election commitment to reduce the cost of unnecessary and inefficient regulation on business and the community by at least $1 billion each year, every year.
“Regulation won’t be the default position for government and will only be imposed where unavoidable,” he said in the statement.
“Cabinet submissions will henceforth require regulatory impact statements that quantify the compliance costs imposed and matching compliance cost cuts where regulation is unavoidable.
“Over the last six years, more than 21,000 additional regulations were introduced, productivity declined and Australia fell in the global competitiveness rankings. There are currently more than 50,000 Acts and legislative instruments, many of which are a handbrake on Australia’s ability to get things done.
“The government’s new approach recognises that regulation has a cost. Responsibility for the deregulation agenda now sits with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure there is a whole-of-government approach to this critical issue.”
Mr Abbott said many non-statutory bodies had “outlived their original purpose or are not focused on the government’s policy priorities. As a result, their work is best carried out by the relevant government departments or agencies.”
He said ministers would continue to receive advice from a range of sources including industry and community stakeholders, relevant departments and from Ministerial Advisory Councils.
Other non-statutory bodies to be abolished include the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council.
Non-statutory bodies to be absorbed by portfolio departments include the National Sustainability Council.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said Mr Abbott's decision to abolish the AAWAC was disappointing.
"It risks further damage to public confidence in the live export system, and the long term sustainability of the sector," he said in a statement.
"This adds to previous decisions by the Abbott government that pose a threat to Australia’s live export trade, particularly the abolition of the position of Inspector General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports, and preparations for a move to industry self-regulation.
"As Minister, I placed great value on the work of the AAWAC and relied upon it for assistance in building public confidence in the live export sector.
"The government’s unpredictable and inconsistent changes to live export policy should be of concern to the industry and community alike."