Live export review expert technical panel announced

Cattle on sunset at Lawn Hill station.
Cattle on sunset at Lawn Hill station.

STANDARDS in Australia’s live export industry will be subject to public consultation after an expert panel was appointed to lead a Federal Government review.

The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) review will look at the handling of animals throughout the supply chain, from on-farm to when they are discharged in the importing country.

AgForce North Regional President Russell Lethbridge said the review was timely given the freeze on live export from Karumba Port due to dredging and permit issues.

Mr Lethbridge said reopening Karumba Port to vessels was critical to Northern Australia’s live export future.

”To have any sort of advantage in the livestock industry or Northern Australia in general then we have to have good and effective transport lines open to us,” he said.

“That doesn't include redirecting cattle for a 2000km trip to Darwin.

“The first thing to do in any industry is to have good, effective transport infrastructure in place.

”This latest business of the boats not being allowed to come in on the highest tide of the year is detrimental to the entire northern industry.

”In these times I think we're treating the North like a third world country.

”It’s up to the State and Federal Agricultural ministers to get together to sort this out.”

Mr Lethbridge said port fees raised from Karumba last year should be spent on dredging the channels.

”It’s an extremely strategic live export port for the north, there’s a lot of cattle in catchment to Karumba.

“It is the only port you can walk cattle straight out of the yard to the boat.

“This directly effects the viability of the producers in the North.”

“With government’s and others going on about growing the north and industry in the north, while ever we’ve got these impositions it’s like a big hand break.”

Mr Lethbridge said animal welfare was a concern for all in the industry and he hoped the review would look at Karumba as a better alternative for live export rather than sending the region’s cattle on the road to Darwin.

”AgForce is in complete support of this review and they way it’s conducted, the people doing it. It is timely as there’s been a lot of efficiencies that can be gained.

”The ASEL has been built on the run and now's the time to have a close look at how efficiently we're doing things, which will benefit trading partners and the producers at home.”

The review committee will be lead by independent chairman and former West Australian Senator Dr Chris Back and includes two animal welfare experts, a regulation specialist and an industry expert.

Agriculture Department deputy secretary Malcolm Thompson said the review was vital to the live export industry’s future.

“We want to maintain Australia’s reputation as a world leader in animal welfare standards and as an ethical and reliable trading partner for quality protein,” Mr Thompson said.

He said the committee would work with key stakeholders to ensure the standards considered livestock industry innovation and development, along with the latest animal health and welfare research.

NOTE: This story first appeared on the North Queensland Register.

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