Repeating his strong support for live sheep exports, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced this morning the government is accepting all 23 recommendations from the McCarthy Review into the Middle East summer trade.
“I announce today, there will be no ban on the live trade sheep in the Middle Eastern summer,” Mr Littleproud told media in Sydney.
He said the review ushered in sweeping changes, delivering a seismic shift” away from mortality rates as a measure of animal welfare to focus instead on heat stress, to incentivise exporters to upgrade ships.
Mr Littleproud commissioned experienced industry veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy to review shipping standards in the wake of recent scandals over animal welfare.
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His recommendations, to be introduced by July 1 before this year’s summer trade kicks off, include:
- Heat stress will replace mortality rates as the key measure of animal welfare.
- The reportable mortality level will be halved, from two to one per cent.
- An allometric stocking density system will be introduced, providing for around 39pc more space for sheep on the voyage, and reducing stocking density by about 28pc.
Also taking effect immediately will be the requirement for an independent observer on every voyage carrying either sheep or cattle - not just the sheep voyages during the northern summer - reporting daily to the Independent Regulator.
Mr Littleproud will introduce a Bill for new laws creating a new offence of profiting from poor animal welfare outcomes.
Under this offence, a director of a company could face 10 years prison or $2.1 million fine.
An individual convicted under the same offence would face 10 years and $420,000 fine.
For a company, the fine will be $4.2 million, three times the benefit gained, or 10 per cent of the company’s annual turnover, whichever is greater.
Under the current Australian Meat and Livestock Act, penalties will increase from the current five years prison and/or a $63,000 fine for an individual to 8 years prison and/or $100,800 fine.
For a company the fine will be increased from $315,000 to $504,000.