Live exporters brace for more fallout

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Camera IconFederal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian.

The live export industry is bracing for more fallout as Federal authorities prepare to reveal another batch of findings from investigations into alleged breaches of animal welfare standards.

It is believed the Federal Government has adopted a staged release policy which critics say has shades of its weekly briefings on asylum seeker boat arrivals.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday strongly defended the system for monitoring live exports but did not comment on the release of more findings.

"There is a process and we are following that process. Where there are errant exporters we will investigate their practises, but our clear intention is to continue to support the industry," Mr Joyce said.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Animal welfare groups have been told the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will ditch its policy of briefing them in advance of the release of investigation findings.

The move is understood to be part of a backlash over revelations in _WestBusiness _ that more than 4000 sheep died of heat stress in the space of hours during a voyage from Fremantle to the Qatar on the Bader III. Details of the shocking voyage were not made public for five months.

DAFF released nine investigation reports, including one into the Bader incident, last Thursday. It is expected to deliver more on Thursday week.

Mr Joyce said Australia exported about three million animals a year and there were "going to be problems from time to time".

"We have to manage the situation, not shut down the industry just because there are occasional problems. We strongly support animal welfare, in fact, we are world leaders at it," he said.

"I cannot think of a State where live animal exports are more important than WA - large sections of this trade are producers in the south-west of the State."

Animals Australia and the RSPCA have led calls for tougher action against exporters who breach animal welfare standards.

There are also question marks over DAFF investigations after the report into the Bader incident did not name the exporter (Livestock Shipping Services), the vessel, mention disposal of the carcasses, or make it clear that the shipment had reached port when the deaths occurred.

DAFF records show Australia exported about 35 million sheep in the 10 years to 2013, with the annual mortality rate on voyages always below one per cent. The mortality rate on the Bader III was 5.53 per cent.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails