Cool response to export overseer

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
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The Federal Government has angered both sides in the most explosive debate in agriculture with a plan to appoint an independent overseer of live animal exports.

Farmers and exporters said the position would add another layer of red tape to the industry, which already had the most rigorous regulatory standards in the world.

Animals Australia branded it a waste of taxpayers' money because the overseer would not have the power to tackle fundamental community concerns about the trade.

Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the inspector-general would add an "important layer of independence to the regulatory system" which is controlled by his Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Mr Fitzgibbon said it was a priority to restore public confidence in the live export system, which has been rocked by images of cruelty from overseas in recent years.

Stop Live Exports co-ordinator Katrina Love said the position fell well short of the independent office of animal welfare promised by some members of the Government.

Sheep and cattle producers are already reeling from the impact of administrative costs and the closure of key markets under the Government's controversial exporter supply chain assurance system.

"Another level of regulation and cost will be an unjustified impost on the live export industry that is already struggling to stay viable," WA Livestock Export Association chairman John Edwards said.

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