New animal welfare laws for livestock transport on show

On Monday, the first draft of the new national ‘model’ animal welfare laws for transport of livestock were put on show in Sydney by the ‘Animal Welfare Committee’ (AWC is the forum that brings together all State and Territory animal welfare regulators).

The model laws take the ‘Standards’ which have been developed over the last few years, and translate them into something which is legally enforceable.

WA President Grant Robins made a big effort to get across for the meeting, and took a keen interest in the provisions that will make time off water legally enforceable.

Lorene Whittam from South Australia was also able to get to Sydney. South Australian officials are playing an important role in the meetings of AWC, and it was quite important for our Association to bring a well-known ‘face from home’ to this meeting.

The AWC were happy to have government and industry representatives sitting at the same table, in the same room, and jointly discuss how the laws would work. That was good to see.

Across 74 pages of material, we pointed out numerous clauses that we thought needed improvement.
We gained agreement on all but one of the issues we raised and successfully suggested words on how to rewrite several parts of the laws.

Some of the producer representatives at this meeting were reflecting carefully on the various new legal requirements for managing and, in certain circumstances, recording time off water. They’re a long way from reaching agreement with us on the NVD, but some of them now understand that we do have a good point.

… Animal welfare regulators looking to truckCare

Holding a draft law in your hands tends to focus the mind.

The new laws will require everyone to “ensure that vehicles and livestock handling facilities are constructed, maintained and operated in a way that minimises risk to the welfare of livestock.”

During Monday’s meeting, questions came from some customer representatives, asking ‘how do you expect us to do that’ and ‘what kind of enforcement approach will you take?’

The regulators from every State had a united message. When it came to enforcement, they’ll be looking more favourably at those transporters who are accredited, or farmers or customers who make the effort to use accredited transport operators.

If producers want to show that they are ‘ensuring’ good animal welfare outcomes, part of their solution can be to use a truckCare operator. They’ll also need to think about whether they’re selling through an accredited yard and, yes, using proper ramps.

The Animal Welfare regulators were happy to talk openly about adopting a ‘co-regulatory strategy’, in which accredited businesses that have real auditing and real standards in place will be protected from most fines and inspections. Farmers who use accredited transporters and saleyard would gain the same protection from doing so.

The Victorian regulator reminded the room that this whole approach is ‘locked in’ within that State under the provisions of the Livestock Management Act 2010. That Act provides direct legal authority to ‘approve’ accreditation schemes.

The Queensland regulator pointed to their own powers to approve ‘monitoring’ arrangements with industry partners, which leads to similar outcomes.

The other regulators indicated that they are willing to pursue this approach through direct negotiations with industry.

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