13 July 2011
The 'exclusive' that ran in the Australian this morning related to documents which have been publicly accessible for months.
Animal welfare issues in the live export trade have been an ongoing concern for Australians and the Federal Government.
As Minister I have consistently raised these concerns and sought to give the industry a sustainable and secure future.
On 30 November 2010 I met with representatives of the industry to discuss animal welfare issues in the live export trade.
Following on from this meeting I wrote to industry on 17 January PDF [64kb]. This letter was addressed to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council and also sent to LiveCorp. In this letter I made it clear that I was seeking industry support and advice on systems to improve the animal welfare outcomes achieved in the live trade generally and in particular during the Eid-ul-Adha festival.
On 24 January, I received a response from the Australian Livestock Exporters Council PDF [42kb] which was copied to LiveCorp. This letter makes clear that after my involvement the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, LiveCorp and Meat and Livestock Australia were taking steps in deliver better animal welfare outcomes through the trade.
On 21 March I again wrote to the Australian Livestock Exporters Council PDF [45kb] reiterating my support for the industry and again asking for proposals to improve welfare outcomes across the trade.
On 22 March I received a response from the Australian Livestock Exporters Council PDF [142kb]. This response again makes it very clear that as a result of my engagement with these issues the industry - Australian Livestock Exporters Council, LiveCorp and Meat and Livestock Australia – had commenced a process to deliver better animal welfare outcomes.
All these letters are matters of public record and were tabled in the parliament on 4 July 2011.
The footage which screened on Four Corners was unacceptable and the Gillard Government took immediate action.
Over time welfare outcomes for animals in the live export industry have improved. The footage aired by Four Corners demonstrated that they have not improved far enough or fast enough.
Self regulation for this industry has been a failure. This failure has required the government to step in and regulate the conduct of the industry throughout the supply chain from the paddock in Australia to processing in international facilities.
This is the most significant reform of the live export trade by any government.
More work now needs to be done to embed animal welfare outcomes throughout live export supply chains. We continue to work with industry on this issue.
Let me reiterate, animal welfare is not a recent concern for the Government, but an issue I have been working to address throughout my time in this role.
I have written and met with industry bodies, producers and stakeholders on this issue constantly since my appointment.
Any suggestion that I have not been actively engaged in these issues is both ridiculous and untrue.