New scrutiny for live animal trade

The West Australian
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Australia's live animal export trade will be the focus of a new independent examiner.

Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has announced the creation of an inspector-general position to help "restore public confidence" in the trade, which has attracted controversy.

Reporting directly to the minister, the inspector-general will review and audit live trade practices, adding an "important layer of independence to the regulatory system", Mr Fitzgibbon said.

The appointment follows the federal government's implementation of supply chain assurances and the requirement for a memorandum of understanding with new markets that take Australian livestock.

The measures stemmed from Australia's temporary ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia amid claims of animal mistreatment in 2011. The move was a blow for the local cattle industry and sparked outcry from producers.

Mr Fitzgibbon denied the statutory role would mean additional red tape for the already burdened industry.

The Australian Livestock Exporters' Council offered a tepid response to the announcement, questioning the terms of reference which will govern the position.

"It is difficult for industry to comment on the merits or otherwise ... and whether it will deliver the assurances required," Council chief Alison Penfold said, citing a lack of detail in the announcement.

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