​Media Release

Regulation reset for live export industry

31 October 2018

  • Moss review into live export regulation and Government response released
  • Independent Inspector General of Live Animal Exports to oversee the Department in its role as regulator
  • Principal Regulatory Officer and animal welfare branch to be created within Department

The live export industry will be reset following the completion of the Moss Review into the culture, capability and investigative capacity of the regulator of live exports – the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

"Australians were appalled in April when they saw footage of sheep dying on voyages to the Middle East during a shipment in August 2017, and further angered at their assessment the report of the incident did not match the footage," Minister Littleproud said.

"Australians need to be confident the independent regulator of the live export industry will hold the industry to account. It was clear we needed an independent inquiry into the culture and capability of the regulator.

"I said in April I was determined to clean this industry up and make it sustainable, because so many farm families and rural towns rely on it. I followed through on the McCarthy Review into the northern summer trade and today I follow through on the Moss Review into the regulation of the industry, accepting all recommendations. The live export industry needs a tough cop on the beat and the Department must become a capable, trusted and effective regulator.

"Today I reset the live export industry to make it sustainable. I announce:

  • An external, independent Inspector General of Live Animal Exports who 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 within the Department and the development of animal welfare indicators to be used as part of compliance systems
  • That the Department will improve systems to allow concerns raised by staff members to be addressed transparently and promptly.

"I specifically asked Mr Moss to consider an Inspector General in his review, and I said at the time I don't care who thought of the idea. Mr Moss recommends it so I'm doing it. I don't give a stuff who claims the credit.

"The Principal Regulatory Officer will be key in driving cultural change within the Department as well as improving compliance and investigations.

"I accept Mr Moss's recommendation the regulator of the live export trade have an animal welfare branch and introduce animal welfare indicators along the supply chain as part of the regulatory framework. Compliance and regulation should not be a bureaucratic tick box – to change culture, the light needs to be shone onto animal welfare andthe threat of being caught and punished needs to be real.

"Employees of the Department need to be confident their concerns about animal welfare will be taken seriously and the Department will improve systems that encourage this.

"I thank Mr Moss for his review and look forward to implementing his recommendations.

"I call on Labor to give a written guarantee they'll support my Bills to double penalties for live export animal cruelty without political amendments, through both houses of Parliament."

Minister Littleproud will bring forward legislative amendments to establish the Inspector General position.

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.

The Government's official response to the Moss review can be found at www.agriculture.gov.au/moss-review

Background: The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources acts as the regulator of live exports in Australia, independent of the Minister's direction and unlike the relationship between most departments and Ministers.

Legal advice from the regulator in 2013 says:

"The powers available to you as Minister under live export legislation can be described as 'rule making' or 'standard setting' as opposed to the Secretary of the Department, who has 'regulatory' and 'decision making' powers."

Legal advice from the regulator on July 11 this year:

  1. The Minister has the power to make orders under the Export Control Act 1982. 
  2. The Minister also has the power determine principles relating to the export of livestock from Australia that must be taken into account by persons exercising or performing functions under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997. 
  3. These are both rule making powers of general application, not the power to give directions in relation to individual decisions or regulated entities.​