9 April 2018
Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, has made three announcements following the airing of vision from voyages transporting live sheep to the Middle East in 2017 last night.
Minister Littleproud, who became Minister for Agriculture just before Christmas, is concerned that a mortality report he received recently from the independent regulator - the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - did not accurately reflect the conditions seen in the vision on the ship.
Minister Littleproud announced:
- A review into investigative capability, powers and culture of the independent regulator
- A number to allow whistleblowers to anonymously call and provide information
- An intention to work with the Labor Party to increase penalties for those doing the wrong thing, through the Bill currently before Parliament.
"Personally, I'd like to see company directors be held more personally accountable if they do the wrong thing, facing big fines and possible jail time. They shouldn't be able to hide behind companies and shelf companies," Minister Littleproud said.
"I want to let the light shine in. No-one who is doing the right thing should be scared of transparency. I thank the whistleblower for coming forward - we need more of it. A hotline for whistleblowers to call anonymously is a logical step to increase transparency and encourage that behaviour. I said I'd aim to create an environment where whistleblowers are comfortable and confident stepping forward, and a hotline is a start. I'll consult further with Animals Australia and the RSPCA, both of whom I've been in contact with, to help strengthen this.
"A review into the independent regulator is a good thing. We need to make sure the regulator has the right tools, training and culture to make sure exporters do the right thing. This requires prosecutions and heavy penalties where breaches occur.
"Regarding the ship scheduled to leave Fremantle for the Middle East in the next couple of days, conditions required of the exporter are a matter for the independent regulator, although personally I'm pleased with the idea an independent observer paid for by the regulator will be on board sending back daily reports and photographs."
Background: Inquiries regarding regulation and conditions required for the ship scheduled to leave Fremantle carrying sheep in the next couple of days should be directed to the independent regulator, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.