The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is establishing a technical advisory committee to conduct a review of Australia’s Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and is seeking applications for membership.
Deputy Secretary Malcolm Thompson said ASEL was an important component of Australia’s world leading livestock export system, setting the standards of health and welfare that exporters must meet during the transport of Australian livestock overseas.
“The committee we’re establishing will look at the standards for the export of livestock to ensure they are fit for purpose and take into account the latest animal health and welfare scientific information and advice,” Mr Thompson said.
“This technical committee will be made up of an independent chair and experts in animal health and welfare, regulatory design and the livestock industry. Members will be required to meet specific eligibility requirements and will be selected on the basis of their skills, experience and qualifications rather than their affiliation with an organisation.
“This is about getting the science right behind any proposed updates to the standards—there will be a number of opportunities for stakeholders to contribute to the standards throughout the review process.
“We anticipate appointing an independent chair and four committee members for a period of two years, to begin in late September.
“The review will be conducted as a series of modules with each module expected to take six to eight months to complete. This means we can prioritise some areas of work, encourage industry innovation and move more quickly to adapt technological improvements.
“It is anticipated that committee members will need to be available for 30 to 80 days over a year to undertake committee duties.”
Committee members will be paid at the rate published for ‘Offices not specified’ in the Australian Government Remuneration Tribunal ‘Determination 2016/18—Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-Time Public Office.
Livestock exporters welcome ASEL review
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council has welcomed confirmation of the formal review of ASEL.
ASEL governs the handling of animals in Australia’s livestock export supply chain from selection on-farm through pre-export preparation, quarantine and transport to the point of discharge in the importing country.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Simon Westaway said the ASEL review process would include the establishment of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
“That Committee will ultimately provide recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), as part of a process which ALEC believes will provide outcome-based standards, backed by sound scientific evidence,” Mr Westaway said.
“ALEC has previously called for a formal review of ASEL and we endorse the approach being undertaken.”
The TAC will comprise an independent chair, two animal health and welfare experts, a person with an expert knowledge of the livestock export industry, and a regulatory expert. The TAC is supported by an ASEL Reference Group, comprising representative bodies with a direct interest in the livestock export industry, including animal welfare organisations, the production sector and veterinary profession.
“ALEC has encouraged this review of our $2 billion industry because livestock exporters wants ASEL to remain relevant, which in turn promotes a sustainable and growing livestock export trade,” Mr Westaway said.
“Our industry knows the importance of incorporating the latest evidence-based science and new technology into the high standards governing our trade, to ensure the regulatory framework governing the live trade is up-to-date and aligned with world’s best livestock welfare practices.”
ALEC Director and industry veterinarian Dr Tony Brightling (pictured) said Australia continued to play a world-leading role in the global livestock export trade.
“Australia is the global leader in livestock welfare practices and the current ASEL standards are recognised as an international gold standard,” Dr Brightling said.
“However, livestock export is a dynamic industry. As such, it’s important to ensure ASEL is reviewed and updated to incorporate new technology and research findings, so as to genuinely reflect and meet community expectations of Australian industry operating at international best-practice standards.”
Compliance with ASEL is mandated by the Australian Government. A May 2017 report released by the Australian Farm Institute confirmed that mortality rates during ocean transport have significantly declined over time through better management and ship design, to the extent that losses are now comparable with or below normal farm rates.
“Best practice is an ongoing process. We need to ensure new technology and research findings that enhance animal welfare are promptly adopted as standard operating procedures, and that the standards are consistent with regulatory best practice,” Dr Brightling said.
Sources: Department of Agriculture, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
- Applications from suitably qualified people are now being sought. To find out more about the committee’s terms of reference and to apply visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/animal/welfare/export-trade/review-asel