Back the independent live ex reviews

Back the independent live ex reviews


Opinion
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Hedland Export Depot owner Paul Brown addresses the views put forward by RSPCA WA chairwoman Lynne Bradshaw.

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I WOULD like to address the views of Lynne Bradshaw in her comments regarding the live export trade.

The live sheep export industry has just undergone two comprehensive independent reviews with reports delivered by two very well respected academics, Dr Michael McCarthy and Philip Moss.

Both of those reports recommended comprehensive reforms to the methods, regulations and culture of not only the commercial live export sector, but also of the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) that oversees the industry as the Federal regulator.

What must be further highlighted is that not only has the Federal government and Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud accepted all of the recommendations from both reviews, so has the industry.

Even more importantly, greater ownership of the future of the live sheep export industry has been taken by the wider farming community such as shearing contractors, truck drivers, livestock agents, fodder suppliers and the myriad of allied businesses in those communities, not just the farmers themselves.

The layer of opaqueness that shielded the industry from view has now been removed and greater transparency of the industry will be the benchmark for its future.

Everyone in the wider farming community is also well aware of the threat of the industry being shut down by either the ideology of a future Federal Labor government or another high mortality calamity during a live export voyage.

What Lynne fails to highlight is that the overall live export industry has shown that it can accept and adopt reforms to ensure future success, as was done after the 2011 suspension of cattle to Indonesia by the then Federal Labor Minister, Joe Ludwig.

Those reforms ensured that the Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was implemented and became legally binding through legislation introduced through the Australian parliament.

Lynne is happy to focus on a minor language discrepancy of 2.5 per cent of on-board stocking densities, rather than the 15pc increase that is being introduced to benefit the overall welfare outcomes to all sheep, even though this wasn’t one of the recommendations of either review.

Lynne’s ideology won’t accept that the industry should be allowed to deliver these important reforms and remain a viable alternative for the Australian farming industry.

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We have seen that the wider industry can deliver reforms and show repeatedly that those reforms have meant better animal welfare.

The reforms adopted by the live cattle export industry have been so successful that we no longer hear Federal Labor considering a shutdown of that industry, instead they promote its sustainability and the necessity for it to continue.

The industry has also agreed to adopt the Independent Inspectorate of Animal Welfare model that has been proposed, which will allow even greater oversight of the industry.

But the Independent Inspectorate shouldn’t be used as a weapon by Federal Labor to shut the industry.

Rather, it should be an agency that helps deliver the reforms and allows the live sheep export sector to continue and flourish, just as the live cattle industry has with delivery of its reforms.

Lynne, as an academic herself, should be backing the independent reviews, allowing the recommended reforms to be implemented and tested, not just continually calling for the industry to be shut down.

- Hedland Export Depot owner Paul Brown

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