Technical Advisory Committee handbook

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Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, July 2017

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Review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock

The Technical Advisory Committee will review the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) in consultation with stakeholders. The committee will provide recommendations, along with a consultation report outlining the relevant issues raised by stakeholders and the committee’s deliberations in reaching final recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for consideration. The committee is a non-statutory committee made up of members selected through a public application process and appointed by the department. Members will be appointed to the committee for an initial period of two years.

The committee is responsible for delivering on the Technical Advisory Committee Terms of Reference. The committee reports to the department.

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Purpose of this handbook

The purpose of this handbook is to provide further guidance on the operation of the committee, including participant roles and responsibilities. This handbook is to be read in conjunction with the committee’s terms of reference. The Technical Advisory Committee Secretariat Handbook will outline procedures for secretariat services provided to the committee, including the management of committee activities.

Committee membership

Committee members will be selected for their relevant skills, expertise and understanding as outlined in the committee roles and responsibilities below.

It is expected that the members of the committee will be required for a commitment of approximately 50 to 80 days in the 2017-18 financial year and 30 to 60 days, to a maximum of 60 days, annually thereafter.

Committee members cannot be a member of an organisation or business with a current direct interest in the livestock export industry. This includes:

  • owners, employees, committee or board members of livestock export industry businesses and associations
  • owners, employees, committee or board members of livestock producer organisations, animal welfare organisations and lobbyists.

This would not preclude someone participating who had previously had interests in these organisations or businesses provided that they had exited the business/organisation at least 12 months prior.

Applicants who are employees of business and research entities that have accepted funds from organisations or businesses with a direct interest in the livestock export industry will be considered unless the employee:

  • has a financial stake in the organisation or business they are employed within
  • personally received funds  directly from the organisation or business with a direct interest in the livestock export industry. This does not extend to covering the costs of travel associated with appearing at conferences or workshops to report on their research.

Notwithstanding all other requirements, applicants who have publically expressed a strong philosophical opposition to the livestock export trade, or improving animal welfare may be precluded from participating.

See the Technical Advisory Committee Terms of Reference for more information about conflicts of interest and membership.

Committee roles and responsibilities

The membership structure of the group is to ensure the committee will have a balance of interests and expertise to allow for sound advice to be provided to the department. Committee members will be selected to achieve the best balance of skills across the committee.

All members are responsible for:

  • remaining fundamentally committed to the improvement of animal welfare within a context of the continuation of the trade
  • operating in a transparent, timely and accountable manner
  • ensuring all technical issues, new research and scientific knowledge submitted by stakeholders relating to ASEL have been properly considered by the committee and independent expert advice sought as necessary
  • contributing to the development of clear timelines and work plans for the committee
  • consider whether the problem is serious enough to warrant the Government’s intervention or whether other approaches could be used
  • ensuring the committee’s recommendations are focussed on the intended ASEL objective; ensure animals presented for export are fit for export and will maintain their health and welfare status throughout the export voyage
  • ensuring all interested stakeholders have the opportunity to provide review input
  • developing a priority list of issues for consideration in consultation with the department and stakeholders
  • clearly analysing the benefits and costs of the proposed options for affected stakeholders in a balanced and objective manner.

The animal health and welfare experts are expected to be well informed about both livestock and broader live export animal health and welfare issues and research developments, domestically and internationally.

The animal welfare experts must have suitable skills, experience and qualifications to:

  • plainly interpret scientific animal health and welfare information so that it may be appropriately considered by the committee reference group and incorporated in the standards
  • conduct expert analysis and evaluation of information submitted to the committee in order to:
    • assess the validity of the information
    • evaluate the impact of different policy options on animal welfare outcomes
  • shape the committee’s recommendations to ensure they deliver the intended animal welfare outcomes
  • assess whether the policy option provided in the recommendation is consistent with OIE standards.

The standards development/regulatory expert must have suitable skills, experience and qualifications working with government regulation to:

  • review the format of the standards and provide advice on how they can be written:
    • in line with best practice regulatory principles and other relevant standards
    • to allow flexibility in achieving the required animal welfare outcome and
    • encourage innovation in industry practices and adoption of relevant technological improvements
  • ensure the committee recommendations do not duplicate state and territory regulation or existing Australian animal welfare standards
  • ensure the committee’s review of the standards is in line with the Australian Government’s Guide to Regulation.

The livestock export industry expert must have suitable skills and experience with the livestock industry, in livestock handling and logistics, and an understanding of livestock export business processes to:

  • conduct expert analysis and evaluation of technical and practical information relating to the livestock export industry in order to assess the viability and practicalities of different policy options
  • provide advice on the compliance costs and implications to the sustainability of the trade of proposed options for livestock export industry participants.

The independent chair must have suitable skills and previous experience as a chairperson to:

  • chair meetings. This includes:
    • advising the committee about meeting protocols
    • reminding committee members that they are bound by confidentiality provisions
    • managing declarations of conflict of interest.
  • facilitate constructive processes that allow for continuous improvement of ASEL
  • ensure work of the committee is conducted efficiently and that recommendations are presented to the department within agreed timelines
  • ensure committee members act in accordance with the guiding principles of the terms of reference in all aspects of operations
  • ensure the committee undertakes appropriate record keeping of decisions and actions
  • provide final approval of committee meeting papers and recommendations
  • provide progress updates and reporting to the department.

Role of the ASEL reference group

Within the review process, the committee will engage directly with a reference group of representative bodies with direct interests in the livestock export industry, including representatives from key animal welfare organisations, industry and producer bodies, and from the veterinary profession.

The role of the reference group is to provide the committee with a resource to discuss technical and practical aspects of the review informed by their extensive experience with export conditions relevant to Australian livestock species and export processes. The reference group will be the key consultation group for the committee.

The reference group will:

  • provide further information and advice to the committee during the development of recommendations, but will not oversee or direct the committee
  • be consulted about proposed options arising from the committee’s consideration of submissions, prior to the committee putting recommendations to the department
  • meet as a collective with the committee at the beginning to set expectations of the group
  • be consulted either as a collective, or individually throughout the review process
  • be chaired by the chair of the committee when meeting with the committee
  • not be required to meet independently of the committee
  • not be remunerated for their time, nor reimbursed for travel and related meeting expenses.

Committee meeting provisions

The department will provide technical secretariat support for all committee meetings. All members must be in attendance for a meeting to be held. Attendance may be via teleconference or video link. Unless otherwise agreed, meetings will be limited to standard working hours.

Issues that do not reach consensus through discussion will be resolved via a majority decision, however the minority view will be recorded in the recommendation to the department.

Proxy

Committee members will not be permitted to nominate proxies for their duties including committee meeting attendance. Committee members must advise the secretariat as soon as practicable if they may be unable to attend a committee meeting or are unable continue to participate in the committee.

Observers

Observers are not permitted in committee meetings. However the committee may conduct discussions with members of the reference group (collectively or individually) as part of their meetings and may invite relevant experts to attend meetings to discuss specific issues.

Out of session work

In addition to face to face meetings, committee members will be required to perform out of session work as necessary to deliver upon the specific requirements of their roles.

Reporting arrangements

The committee, through the chair, will report to the department. In addition to the information published about the review and the committee on the department’s website, each review stage will also have its own web page. This page will include information outlining the issues for consideration, the consultation timelines and updates on progress of the review. Submissions (unless clearly marked ‘IN CONFIDENCE’) and draft and final recommendations will also be published on these pages.

The department is responsible for endorsing any changes to the standards. Committee reporting must show how issues raised by stakeholders have been addressed and include the reasoning that led to final recommendations in a formal consultation report.

Should other live animal export policy issues arise in the course of the review the committee will refer them to the Live Animal Export Programme within the department, through the secretariat. Issues raised in the review that are relevant to particular state or territory government animal welfare regulators will be collated by the committee secretariat and provided to the department to discuss with the relevant regulators.

Confidentiality

Unless clearly marked ‘IN CONFIDENCE’ and attached to a statement explaining why the submission or parts thereof should not be published, submissions received will be made public through the department’s website.

Submissions marked ‘IN CONFIDENCE’ and the committee’s deliberations should be treated as confidential information. Subject to any legal obligations requiring release of information (e.g. freedom of information request, court subpoena, and parliamentary enquiry), confidential information may not be released to the public without consulting the committee and the department.

Confidentiality provisions exist to protect:

  • the identity and details of individuals providing information to the committee, including in submissions
  • commercial-in-confidence information
  • details of individual members’ deliberations, inputs or positions in the meetings of the committee
  • the integrity of the review arrangements
  • the integrity of international reporting and market access activities.

Committee members will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement. These agreements will be held by the secretariat.

Media enquiries

  • Committee members are responsible for forwarding all media enquiries to the chair immediately on receipt.
  • The chair is responsible for informing the secretariat about all media enquiries brought to their attention on receipt.
  • All committee members are responsible for ensuring no unauthorised media statements, press releases or responses to media enquiries are made.

Remuneration

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’. This rate is currently $393 per day for members and $523 per day for the chair. Payment of the fee is subject to the conditions and requirements set out in Schedule B of the above determination. These are gross fees; there is no superannuation component included in annual or per diem fees for holders of part-time office and no additional amount is payable by the department to meet any taxation obligations. Superannuation may be payable to individual committee members depending on the hours spent per month in attending meetings. There may be scope for negotiation of per diem amounts on an individual basis depending on the particular skills and experience of the candidate.

Travel and reimbursements

All domestic air travel and accommodation will be booked and paid for by the secretariat in accordance with the department’s Chief Executive Instructions. Meal and travel allowance will be provided at the SES rate as per the Chief Executive Instructions for domestic travel. Official travel taxi charges will be reimbursed upon presentation of receipts to the secretariat. Members have up to two weeks after a face-to-face meeting to submit reimbursements requests.

Sunset and review

Committee member and chair will initially be appointed for two years. Because this is a new process for the ASEL review, both the membership and the committee performance will be reviewed after 21 months to ensure the committee is delivering on the terms of reference.

If after 21 months it is found that the terms of reference have not been met because the review process is ineffective then, using committee and stakeholder input, the department will adjust the process in order to improve its usefulness.

If it is found that the terms of reference have not been met because a member/s of the committee have been ineffective in their duties, the member/s in question will not have their appointment renewed and they will be replaced following a public call for applicants/nominations. If the committee is found to be effective then committee members may be reinstated for a second term.

The committee may be disbanded at any time if required by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. In addition, a member can dissolve their membership at any time by written notice to the Secretary. The membership ends and resignation takes effect once the notice is received or as otherwise specified if another date is referenced in the written notice.