Inquiry into the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Amendment (Animal Welfare) Bill 2023

14 Aug 2023

On the 14 August 2023 the AVA appeared before the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee to discuss the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Amendment (Animal Welfare) Bill 2023.  We made a short written submission (see text box to the right hand side of this webpage to view the submission), and spoke to this in our witness statements.

We spoke to aspects of our previous submission (March 2023), expressing our support for strengthening of the current live animal export regulatory framework, as well as independent oversight of this, given the risks to animal welfare inherent in the trade.  

We also expanded on our previous comments relating to the restricted scope of the proposed role, and our vision for a broader independent body for national animal welfare coordination and oversight.

Our key recommendations for the role of the office of the Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports (IGAWLAE) were:

• Reporting must move away from a focus on mortality – this is a crude measure that reflects the ‘tip of the iceberg’ – to a focus on measures that reflect the welfare of the animal (morbidity). Notifiable Events should be triggered by a certain level of morbidity, not just mortality;

• There should be standardised and consistent reporting of all morbidity on every voyage, and this must be made available to the parliament and public in a transparent manner. This
should include the extent to which monitoring and investigation by the Department results in tangible changes and mitigation of risks for future voyages;

• The office of the IGAWLAE should prioritise high risk issues: e.g. long-haul voyages, journeys into the northern hemisphere summer, mortalities and conditions at destinations, slaughter standards at destinations;

• Staff in the office of the IGAWLAE should be wholly independent and have capabilities in veterinary science, animal welfare science and epidemiology;

• The work of the IGAWLAE office should also include assessing alternatives to live export for high-risk routes and destinations, and the development of effective cold chain facilities to facilitate the chilled and frozen meat export trade.

In conclusion, the AVA recommended expansion of the functions of the IGAWLAE to a much wider remit, along the lines of the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for the establishment of an ‘Australian Commission for Animal Welfare’ - to coordinate national animal welfare policy and standards development, and to publicly assess the effectiveness of state and territory implementation and enforcement.