Live exports: First Independent Observer report released

Live exports: First Independent Observer report released article image

The first public Independent Observer’s live export summary report has been released documenting a recent voyage carrying sheep and cattle exported to Israel last June.

The Observer reported that the vessel’s crew were diligent in performing their duties to ensure the well-being of the animals on board, meeting all conditions of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and the export licence.

Independent Observers provide an additional layer of assurance that Australia’s standards for live exports are being met.

The introduction of Independent Observers on live export voyages in April was part of significant changes to the regulation of live animal exports introduced over the course of the year.

The shake-up followed a review of live exports following the release of disturbing footage aboard the Awassi where more than 2500 sheep died of heat stress on route to the Middle East.

The appointment of an Independent Observer is designed to create full transparency and rebuild trust in the live export industry.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said full transparency is the only way to build public trust in any industry.

Tough cop on the beat

“That’s why I said we needed the ‘truth, and proof’ of what happens on live export boats,” he said.

“We need a tough cop on the beat and we need eyes and ears on those boats.

“This is the only way possible the industry will have a sustainable future and that’s what the Independent Observers should provide.

“I’ve made sure there’s Independent Observers on all sheep voyages.”

The reports and accompanying photos will show the public what the Independent Observer sees on live export boats.

Regular updates

“Independent Observers check the welfare and care of the animals, take photographs and notes to later collate into a report,” said Mr Littleproud.

“They provide regular updates to the regulator on conditions on the boat, which should mean any issues are dealt with as they arise.

“The Australian public must have trust in the integrity and regulation of the live export trade. Reports from Independent Observers are a huge part of building this trust.”

Since the Awassi crisis earlier this year, the government has: 

  • Ordered and received the McCarthy Review into the Middle Eastern Summer trade and accepted all recommendations
  • Ordered the Moss review into the Department of Agriculture's Capability, Culture and Investigative Power – and accepted all 31 recommendations
  • This included the appointment of an independent Inspector General of Animal Welfare to oversee the Department of Agriculture’s regulation of the trade
  • Delivered Independent Observers on all live sheep boats
  • Delivered increased space allocation for sheep being exported to the Middle Eastern
  • Brought forward legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty by live exporters

The Independent Observer’s report is available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website


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