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STRIVING FOR ZERO WELFARE INCIDENTS
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has acknowledged the recent tabling in the Australian Senate of animal welfare incident reports occurring at export abattoirs in 2020 and 2021. Chair of the ALRTA National Driver and Animal Welfare Committee, Graeme Hoare, said that the association welcomes the very high compliance rate but will continue working to eliminate welfare incidents entirely.
Chair of ALRTA National Driver & Animal Welfare Committee, Graeme Hoare.
“Livestock transport is like no other part of the road freight sector. The interaction of animal welfare laws, workplace safety laws and road transport laws can create challenges in balancing the equally important elements of driver welfare and animal welfare,” said Mr Hoare.
“During the reporting period, there were 70.6 million animals transported to export abattoirs, with 631 welfare incidents recorded involving 4,083 individual animals. Expressed as a percentage, this represents a non-compliance rate of 0.0058 percent. Or in other words, more than 99.99 percent of livestock arrived without incident.
“The Senate reports indicate that the vast majority of incidents relate to the carriage of animals that were not ‘fit-to-load’, or to injuries that may have occurred during the transport task. Unfortunately, there was also a handful of reports indicating cruelty or mistreatment.
“There simply is no place in the livestock production chain for persons who deliberately mistreat animals. All of those cases have been reported to authorities and will be investigated. If proven, the persons responsible must be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“While recognising that our drivers must play a role in identifying and removing animals that are not fit-to-load, the reality is that this can be difficult in some circumstances. A drivers’ observational vantage point may not allow full viewing of each individual animal and can be obstructed by infill sheets, other animals or poor lighting. In some cases, drivers are prohibited from entering the loading area due to on-site safety or biosecurity protocols.
“But this is not to say that drivers do not inspect animals and refuse to load unfit individuals. In fact, the rate of rejection during the loading process is orders of magnitude higher than the 0.0058 percent non-compliance rate. We absolutely play our role to the fullest extent possible.
“Yet, from a transporter’s perspective, any rejected animals should never have been presented for loading in the first place. It is the person with possession of the livestock prior to loading who has the best opportunity to inspect and remove unfit animals from the herd. They have more time. They have better vantage points. They understand their production system and they should be trained to recognise the warning signs.
“While a 99.99 percent compliance rate isn’t bad, we won’t be resting on our laurels. Via our National Driver and Animal Welfare Committee, ALRTA is continuing to push for improvements in education, infrastructure and practice with the aim of reaching 100 percent.
“For example, ALRTA asked Meat and Livestock Australia to revise published guidance material on fit-to-load requirements to provide better information about relatively common animal conditions such as hernia, uncut claws, blindness, broken horns and expression of pain. While awareness of the revised guide is generally high, there are unfortunately still some producers, like hobby farmers or those who do not engage with industry associations, who remain difficult to reach.
“Our association has also spearheaded the development of an Australian Standard for Livestock Loading/Unloading Ramps and Forcing Pens. Unsafe ramp facilities are dangerous both to people and to animals. A 2021 ALRTA survey found that 87 percent of respondents involved in loading livestock had experienced an injury in the past five years and almost 70 percent continue to experience near misses regularly or often. There can be no doubt that some of the reported 631 animal welfare incidents were caused by sub-standard ramps and loading facilities. ALRTA is now campaigning to mandate the ramp standard at all livestock facilities.
“To help reduce injuries that may occur during the transport task from slips, trips and falls within a livestock crate, ALRTA is leading the development of an industry code of practice for managing livestock effluent. We have engaged with the supply chain to identify practical control measures that reduce effluent production in transit, provide better information and improve options for capture and disposal. This code will be registered under the Heavy Vehicle National Law during 2022.
“And we should not forget that an important element of our industry’s approach to ensuring excellent animal welfare outcomes is the TruckSafe Animal Welfare quality assurance system. It covers animal welfare, food safety and traceability. It is fully auditable and is built around the quality assurance principles contained in international standards and also uses hazard analysis of critical control points. ALRTA members that adopt the TruckSafe system are not just compliant with all animal welfare laws, they can readily demonstrate it to customers, governments and the community.
“The recent statistics are encouraging, but we must always aim to be 100 percent compliant,” said My Hoare.
ATO ADVICE ON FUEL TAX CREDIT
The temporary reduction in fuel excise and excise equivalent customs duty rates ends next week on 28 September 2022.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) says from 29 September:
- increased fuel tax credit rates will apply. Eligible businesses must apply the applicable fuel tax credit rate based on the date the fuel was acquired.
- eligible businesses that use fuel in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads can claim fuel tax credits for fuel acquired. They cannot claim between 30 March to 28 September 2022 because the road user charge exceeds the excise duty paid, reducing the fuel tax credit rate to nil.
- the road user charge for liquid fuels will increase to 27.2 cents per litre. This means the fuel tax credit rate for liquid fuels used in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads will change to 18.8 cents per litre.
The ATO says businesses should keep accurate records to support their claims. Records need to show the type, date, and quantity of fuel acquired for business activities. Find out more at the ATO website.
GEARING UP FOR GRAIN HARVEST
With a bumper grain harvest predicted this year, the NHVR is reminding primary producers of the important role they play in ensuring the safety of heavy vehicle drivers – a responsibility that applies regardless of whether they own the heavy vehicle used to transport grain, contract heavy vehicle services, or are a grain receiver.
NHVR Acting Manager Operational Services Fiona Brophy said that having a plan in place to manage safety and compliance risks was essential.
“It’s important primary producers have an up-to-date plan to manage fatigue, monitor mass and loading, ensure the mechanical safety of their vehicles, and secure appropriate access and permits,” Fiona said.
“Your pre-harvest mechanical check is important to ensure the vehicle you’re using is safe, well-maintained and compliant.
“Not only will this result in less downtime and stress, but you can also expect a more streamlined interaction with on-road compliance officers and police should a vehicle be stopped for a roadside check.
“Our data shows that defects are found more frequently in older vehicles, so please be aware that maintenance may need to be undertaken more regularly.”
More information is available at www.nhvr.gov.au/primary-producers
RESEARCH – COMMUNICATING ANIMAL HEALTH INCIDENTS
Researchers from Charles Sturt University and Gulbali Institute are inviting livestock transporters to participate in a survey to establish the best way to communicate with transporters about animal health incidents.
You can help by taking the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TRANSPORTER2022
Completing the survey should take about 10 minutes of your time.
Q FEVER RESURGENCE
Queensland Health is warning that Q Fever infection numbers in Australia are at the highest level in the past five years.
While some people remain asymptomatic, others develop flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue and muscle pain.
Vaccination is encouraged for high risk workers in contact with cattle, sheep or goats.
SAVE THE DATES FOR 2023
LBRCA – 9-11 March 2023 – TAMWORTH
LRTAQ – 16-17 March 2021 – TOWNSVILLE