Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s tougher regulations for live sheep exports are not just aimed rebuilding public trust.
Today’s announcement endorsing the McCarthy Review’s findings could future-proof the trade, he said.
But there’s opposition from inside and outside his government.
“Today is about setting a new course for the live export industry,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I want to make sure there is a legacy, that no matter who comes in after me, that this cannot be broken down.”
Mr Littleproud said he was “getting ahead of the curve” by putting independent inspectors on all boats to eradicate bad industry practices.
He’s grappling with Labor, which wants to ban sheep live exports, as well as government MPs like Sussan Ley who has proposed her own private members bill to end the industry.
In a nod to the challenge he faces in gaining their support, Mr Littleproud flagged broader investigations in live exports.
“We intend to go further, dig deeper and go right through the supply chain. That's the responsibility of the government, that's the responsibility I have to those farmers in Western Australia and South Australia and the responsibility I have to the animals that preside here in Australia,” he said.
Another notable aspect of Mr Littleproud’s handling of the issue is his break with the more defensive approach adopted by his predecessor Barnaby Joyce, who appeared less willing to embrace broader public opinion in the debate.
“I want to remind people of the whistleblower hotline. I want to create an environment where people feel safe to come forward on animal welfare issues,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Government cannot do this by our own. We need the community to come with us.”
“This is about changing the culture of the industry, which has been unacceptable for too long.
Mr Littleproud said he would visit key trading partners next week “to let them understand how important they are to us and that what we have put in place” and reiterated Moss review, due to report at the end of August, into culture, capability and investigative powers of the independent regulator.