Terms of reference 2013 review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and the Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group

​​​Introduction

The Independent Review of Australia’s Livestock Export Trade conducted by Mr Bill Farmer AO (the Farmer review) was commissioned by the government to seek advice on the long term sustainability of the livestock export trade. The Government accepted all 14 recommendations of the Farmer review. These included:

  • Recommendation 1 — The Review recommends that the Australian Government expedite work with the states and territories to more clearly articulate respective roles and responsibilities for regulating the livestock export supply chain.
  • Recommendation 6 — The Review recommends that a comprehensive review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) be undertaken.
    • The review should inter alia examine the policy on export of sheep from southern ports to the Middle East in winter months, with a view to:
      • mitigate feedlot and shipboard losses in adverse weather conditions
      • mitigate losses from heat stress and inanition during the voyage.
    • The review should also consider additional specific criteria, identified in recent industry-funded research, for selection of suitable livestock for export
  • Recommendation 7 — The Review recommends that the role and function of the Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group (LESAG) should be reviewed.

The Australian Government is committed to the live export industry and to delivering reforms that provide stability for the industry and thousands of regional jobs. The reforms to domestic and international supply chains ensure Australian livestock exported for slaughter are treated at or above internationally accepted animal welfare standards.

In response to the Farmer Review the government committed to undertake a comprehensive review of the ASEL to determine improvements that can be made to the standards, taking into account information and findings of the Farmer Review and recent research of relevance.

The department has established the Livestock Export Reform Program Implementation Board to oversee the implementation of these and other recommendations.

Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock

The ASEL outlines the basic animal health and welfare requirements along the livestock export chain including sourcing the animals, land transport, pre-export holding within Australia, vessel preparation and loading and during the voyage up until the point of disembarkation into the importing country.

For animals exported for the purposes of slaughter, after disembarkation the exporter must ensure the animals are handled and slaughtered in accordance with the exporter supply chain assurance system (ESCAS). The ESCAS must include the key elements of control, traceability and animal welfare. The exporter must comply with the ASEL and ESCAS requirements prior to the Australian Government granting permission to export.

Findings of the Farmer Review

The Farmer Review states that “standards need to be clear, essential (causally related with mortality or otherwise scientifically based), consistent and verifiable. Ongoing feedback and review processes need to be clarified and strengthened and roles and responsibilities of bodies engaged in monitoring and enforcement of ASEL and related welfare standards need to be clarified and formalised.”

Review process

A high level Steering Committee will be established to examine the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock, the role and function of the Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group and to clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of governments for regulating the livestock export supply chain, in line with recommendations 1, 6 and 7 of the Farmer review.

The comprehensive review of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock will include, but not be limited to:

  • Expediting work with states and territories to more clearly articulate respective roles and responsibilities for regulating the livestock export supply chain
  • Examining the export of sheep from southern ports to the Middle East in winter months, with a view to mitigate feedlot and shipboard losses in adverse weather conditions and loses from heat stress and inanition during the voyage
  • Considering additional specific criteria, identified in recent industry-funded research, for selection of suitable livestock for export
  • Coordinating with Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in its review of shipping standards and carriage of livestock under Marine Orders Part 43; and
  • Reviewing the role and function of the Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group.

Reporting Arrangements

The Steering Committee will be established under the DAFF Livestock Export Reform Program Implementation Board. The steering committee will be chaired by the Chief Veterinary Officer and will comprise nominees from the Australian Veterinary Association, the Australian Livestock Exporter’s Council and the RSPCA as well as representatives from each state and territory government with involvement in the livestock export trade. A list of proposed committee members is provided at Annex 11.

The steering committee will engage directly with a broad based consultation group covering stakeholders in the livestock export chain including exporters, producer groups, industry organisations, livestock transporters and shippers, veterinarians, researchers, community and welfare groups and others. This group will provide expert comment and views to the steering committee.

The steering committee will be supported by a secretariat from within DAFF. The secretariat will coordinate the activities related to delivering the review of the ASEL and the role and function of the LESAG. The Steering Committee will report to the DAFF Livestock Export Reform Program Implementation Board, which will be responsible for endorsing any changes to the standards and seeking approval from the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and endorsement through the Standing Council on Primary Industries.

1 Note an ALTRA nominee was included in August 2012.

Activities

It is proposed that the review be conducted in two phases, the first covering the collation and review of available information and the views of stakeholders.  The second phase will cover the drafting of revised standards, consultation and implementation.

Phase 1 – Collection and review of information

The DAFF secretariat, in consultation with the steering committee, will:

  • collate, review and assess the scientific and technical literature relevant to all current standards and species covered by ASEL Version 2.3, including relevant industry funded research (undertaken by LiveCorp/MLA or any other body)
  • review submissions to the Farmer review that dealt with the Farmer review’s Terms of Reference, Item b), looking at the adequacy of the current standards, and the adequacy of LESAG
  • collate, review and assess all DAFF Biosecurity investigations into high mortality livestock shipments and related recommendations from 2006 onwards
  • review the current processes and procedures for reporting including arrangements for on-board accredited veterinarians and voyage/mortality reporting requirements
  • review the export of sheep from southern ports to the Middle East in winter months and develop recommendations
  • collate and review all legal advice provided to DAFF Biosecurity on the operation and interpretation of the ASEL
  • coordinate and liaise with AMSA in its review of shipping standards and carriage of livestock under Marine Orders Part 43
  • hold targeted consultations with key stakeholders on areas for improvement and issues that need to be addressed for an updated version of ASEL and LESAG (industry, exporters, registered premises operators, AQIS accredited veterinarians (AAVs), transporters and animal welfare groups); and
  • present and discuss the findings and recommendations arising from these reviews with the steering committee.

Phase 2 – Drafting, further consultation and implementation

Based upon the findings/information developed under Phase 1 and under the direction of the steering committee, the DAFF secretariat will:

  • Prepare the initial and subsequent drafts of the revised standards
  • Prepare the initial and subsequent drafts of an implementation plan for the revised standards
  • Consult with government policy makers and regulators, industry representatives (including the livestock export industry technical working group) and animal welfare organisations on the content of the initial draft and the role of LESAG
  • Manage the broader consultation process on the draft standards
  • Work closely with the office of legislative drafting to seek advice on the preparation of draft regulations and in altering the name of the standards in the legislative orders
  • Manage the preparation of a regulation impact statement as required by the Office of Best Practice Regulation
  • Manage the public consultation process associated with the release of the draft regulation impact statement
  • Seek approval by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and endorsement through the Standing Council on Primary Industries, and
  • Implement the revised standards through regulation.

In undertaking phase 2, the review will draw on the data and information gathered during phase 1, including any recommendations arising from the activities under phase

1.  In addition, the review will take into account:

  • the current ASEL Version 2.3 and previous function of LESAG
  • the respective roles and responsibilities of government, including Commonwealth, state and territory and local government in animal welfare and the livestock export trade
  • the views of government, industry (including the livestock export industry technical working group) and animal welfare organisations on changes to the ASEL; and
  • recent developments in animal welfare, including the replacement of the Australian Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals with Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines, in particular the Australian Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Animals — Land Transport of Livestock.

Attachments

Annex 1

Membership of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and LESAG Review Steering Committee:

  • Chair — Chief Veterinary Officer
  • Nominee — Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
  • Nominee — Australian Veterinary Association
  • Nominee — RSPCA (Australia)
  • Nominee — Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association2 
  • State and Territory Government Representatives — (NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA)

2 Note an ALRTA nominee was included in August 2012​