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Damning live export review prompts major overhaul

Sweeping reforms will be made to the Agriculture Department after a scathing review into its handling of live exports.

An independent report found the industry’s regulator failed to prevent animal welfare abuses and didn’t fully use its powers.

The much-awaited review was ordered back in April, after horrific footage emerged of sheep dying on ships bound for the Middle East.

31 recommendations have been made, including reinstalling an independent watchdog and an animal welfare branch – functions that were scrapped in 2013 when Barnaby Joyce was the Agriculture Minister.

The federal government will accept the review’s recommendations, and sweeping changes to the industry are expected.

But Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says it’s not possible for the live sheep export trade to be humane as it stands.

“The science is very, very clear. It’s impossible to ship those sheep on those long voyages in the middle eastern summer while meeting community expectations,” he tells Deborah Knight.

“It doesn’t matter how good the regulatory framework is, it doesn’t matter how good the supervision is, you just cannot continue with that northern summer sheep trade while also ensuring the sheep are treated humanely.

“They’re just not compatible.”

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Mr Fitzgibbon says the former minister, Barnaby Joyce, needs to be held responsible for the Department’s poor culture.

“The unit for animal welfare within the department, it also ran an Australian animal welfare strategy.

“Joyce got rid of all these initiatives and of course that’s what drove such a bad culture.”