Technical Advisory Committee terms of reference

Publication details

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, July 2017

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​​Review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock

The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) set out the requirements livestock exporters must demonstrate have been met to ensure animals presented for export are fit to export and will maintain their health and welfare status throughout the export voyage.

The Australian Government has committed to a review of the standards beginning in 2017. This review will build upon the previous ASEL review initiated in 2012.

The review will be conducted by a Technical Advisory Committee in consultation with stakeholders. The review will be conducted as a series of modules with each module expected to take six to eight months to complete. Dividing the review into modules allows the committee to address issues in priority order and align review topics with projected government funded research outcomes. In each of these modules the committee will conduct public submission processes to ensure all interested stakeholders are given the opportunity to participate in the review process.

The initial module of the review will circulate a modernised draft of ASEL that includes the agreed items in the 2013 review report, prepared by the department, and call for public submissions. The committee will consolidate the issues raised in stakeholder submissions to establish a work plan for future modules. The review work plan will be published on the department’s website.

Following the initial module, the committee will conduct each future module as follows:

  • release an issues paper on the identified work-plan topic and call for public submissions
  • analyse submissions using their expertise, and engage directly with the ASEL reference group (see the Technical Advisory Committee handbook for further details)
  • draft recommendations to be released for public comment
  • finalise recommendations, taking into consideration issues raised in the public comment period
  • provide finalised recommendations and a consultation report to the department.

The committee will then 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.

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Objectives

The committee will:

  • make recommendations to the department aimed at ensuring all livestock that enter the supply chain are fit for export and maintain their health and welfare status throughout the export voyage
  • develop and maintain a review work plan that aligns review topics with projected government funded research outcomes where possible
  • carry out the approved review process to facilitate the continuous improvement of the standards, considering new animal welfare research and innovations in industry practices in a timely manner
  • facilitate contemporary outcomes based regulation which will allow flexibility in achieving the required animal health and welfare outcomes, encourage innovation in industry practices and adoption of relevant technological improvements
  • ensure the recommendations align with the guiding principles of the committee.

To achieve these objectives, the committee will:

  • conduct public submissions processes to ensure all interested stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input to the standards and work plan
  • ensure all technical issues, new research and scientific knowledge submitted by stakeholders relating to ASEL have been properly considered and independent expert advice sought as necessary
  • examine a range of viable, genuine, policy options
  • clearly analyse the benefits and costs of all the proposed options for affected stakeholders in a balanced and objective manner, with particular regard to the practicalities of livestock management and implications for animal welfare in Australia
  • review the format of the standards and ensure they are written in line with best practice regulatory principles and other relevant standards and provide recommendations to the department where improvements may be adopted.

Out of scope

The committee will not:

  • expand the scope of ASEL within the supply chain
  • assess other livestock export licencing and regulatory arrangements such as approved arrangements and the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS)
  • examine legislation enabling livestock exports with the view to amending it
  • review the Australian Position Statement on the Export of Livestock which is located at the front of the current ASEL
  • assess the implementation and compliance of ASEL by individual exporters
  • comment on the suitability of domestic animal welfare standards for livestock
  • seek endorsement of recommendations after providing them to the department, nor draft final orders.

Guiding principles of the committee

The committee will:

  • operate in a transparent, timely and accountable manner at all times
  • communicate clearly and regularly with stakeholders and the department as appropriate
  • adopt existing Australian animal welfare domestic and livestock standards where applicable
  • endeavour to reach consensus within the committee, taking into account the views of all members.

The committee’s recommendations must:

  • not be inconsistent with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards
  • be based on the best available scientific information, evidence based policy and encourage best practice in animal welfare
  • balance the implications for animal welfare with the practicalities of livestock management, compliance costs and industry sustainability
  • be clear, logical and verifiable
  • demonstrate that the views of affected stakeholder groups have been considered
  • aim to reduce unnecessary, ineffective or duplicative regulation.

Membership

The committee will consist of:

  • an independent chair
  • two animal health and welfare specialists, to ensure appropriate coverage across livestock species/issues
  • one person with a practical understanding of the operational, technical and logistical facets of the live animal export industry
  • one standards development/regulation specialist.

The department will seek applications and nomination of committee members from the public, state and territory governments, key stakeholders and relevant academic institutions. Applicants will be assessed by the department against the criteria in the committee’s handbook. Appropriate applicants will then be contacted and a shortlist provided to the department’s executive. Members (including the chair) will be initially appointed for an initial period of two years.

Other external experts and participants may be invited by the chair to discuss particular agenda items.

Declarations of personal interest (conflicts of interest)

A conflict of interest would occur where a committee member, their immediate relative or business partner, or an organisation with which a committee member had direct pecuniary or non-pecuniary involvement, has a personal stake or strong interest in the outcomes of committee deliberations leading to advice or recommendations to the department.

Given the specialised nature of the industry and the research within Australia, it is possible that conflicts of interest may occur. Committee members will be required to declare any real or perceived conflict of interest so that appropriate risk management processes may be implemented prior to their appointment to the committee.

Each committee member is to declare to the chair all known actual or potential conflicts of interest as soon as they become aware of the conflict. The initial declaration of personal interest made to the department prior to joining the committee and subsequent statements will be deemed to be a ‘standing statement’ for all meetings of the committee.

At each meeting, members are to advise of any new actual or potential conflicts of interest arising in respect of issues on the meeting agenda. These should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, along with the course of action taken in relation to managing the conflict of interest.

Where a conflict of interest is declared by a member on a particular agenda item, the chair and remaining committee members are to consider the nature and extent of the conflict and adopt one of the following courses of action:

  • allow the member to participate in discussion and in decision-making on the matter
  • allow the member to be involved in discussions on the matter but not be involved in making a decision in relation to the matter
  • exclude the member from participation in any discussion or decision-making on the matter
  • direct the member to leave the meeting during deliberation on the matter.

The use of external experts is also subject to conflict of interest considerations. Each potential external expert must declare any potential conflict of interest or any possible perception of bias that could prevent him or her from participating in the review of a particular issue/standard. If this declaration raises concerns about whether the external expert should participate in the review, the chair may nominate an alternative expert.

Expected lifespan

The committee will initially be appointed for two years and both membership and the committee performance will be reviewed 21 months from commencement. See the ‘Technical Advisory Committee Handbook’ for further details.

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