The recommendations of the McCarthy Review are a first step on a pathway forward for Australia’s live sheep export trade says National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson.
“There is no doubt that farmers felt let down that the animals they raised with care and integrity could be exposed to such appalling circumstances.
“We support the future of the trade but there absolutely must be meaningful change.
“Change that increases oversight and transparency, facilitates continuous improvement and most importantly, upholds animal welfare to the standard expected by all reasonable Australians.”
Ms Simson said the McCarthy Review was a crucial first step towards achieving such change.
“We accept that these recommendations are the result of the application of scientific algorithms and analysis and that this analysis was applied with the objective of protecting animal welfare,” Ms Simson said.
The Review proposes an assessment of heat stress conditions that focuses on the welfare of the animal rather than mortality as a key indicator. A change that is very much welcomed.
The 'allometric stocking density system' considers the unique size and weight of an animal in order to determine the overall stocking density of a vessel.
As a result, the Review has recommended sheep be afforded up to 39 per cent more space and for overall stocking densities to be reduced by up to 28pc, during the northern summer months.
"We also welcome the Minister's crack down on exporters found not to be upholding animal welfare standards and practices,” Ms Simson said.
"The prospect of a fine of $4.2 million for companies and up to eight years in prison for individuals, is sure to send a clear signal.
“We have valued the Minister’s pragmatic approach to this issue so far, his commitment to achieving change and to bringing to account, those found to being doing the wrong thing.
“It is our hope that this will translate into meaningful change in the way the sector operates.
“Our farmers, our regional communities and most of all our sheep – cannot afford a repeat of the circumstances brought to light on 8 April.”
Ms Simson said the NFF would now analyse the Review’s finding in detail and continue to work with the Minister and its Members as a matter of priority.