Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP says the Federal Government’s response to the McCarthy Review into the live sheep trade will deliver higher standards to animal welfare while preserving the future of the industry.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has confirmed that the Government will adopt all 23 recommendations of the McCarthy Review.
The live sheep trade will shift to an allometric stocking density system, which accounts for animal weight and size.
Sheep will get up to 39 per cent more space and stocking densities will be reduced by up to 28 per cent.
The change will affect shipments during the Middle Eastern Summer this year.
Additionally, the reportable mortality level will be halved from two to one per cent, which ensures that if more than one per cent of sheep die on any shipment it must be reported immediately and investigated.
Mr Wilson said implementing the recommendations would require the industry to adhere much stricter standards of animal welfare while ensuring farmers in O’Connor retained access to important markets in the Middle East.
“I think we all need to acknowledge the industry must ensure we don’t see a repeat of the terrible events we witnessed on the Awassi Express, but I’m pleased that the Minister has been measured and pragmatic in his response,” he said.
“Maintaining the future of the live export trade is extremely important for my electorate, because any shutdown of the trade would have profound consequences for farmers in O’Connor.
“The most important thing was ensuring that we didn’t rush to a decision that would cause significant damage to our local economy, and I’m fully supportive of the Minister’s position.
“We’ve seen the average mortality rate for live exports fall over the last couple of decades from 1.9 per cent to 0.7 per cent, so the majority of the industry is already meeting what will become the new standard.
“However, it means the exporters who do see high mortality incidents will be held to a higher standard of accountability.”
The Minister will also introduce legislation increasing penalties and creating a new offence of profiting from poor animal welfare outcomes.”
For the full report and response to the recommendations, visit agriculture.gov.au/LAE.