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ALRTA RESPONDS TO PHASE OUT OF LIVE EXPORTS BY SEA
ALRTA has prepared a supporting response to the Australian Government consultation process on phasing out live sheep exports by sea. A consultation paper was released in March 2023 and an Independent Panel formed to advise the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry by 30 September 2023.
Given that the main impacts of the phase out will be felt in Western Australia, our National Council is strongly supportive of the detailed submission outlining impacts and options under development by the Livestock and Rural Transport Association of Western Australia.
So, what did we say?
ALRTA acknowledges that the Independent Panel is not considering the merits of phasing out live sheep exports by sea. However, we feel so strongly about this matter that we have nonetheless offered comments in this regard.
As an industry, rural road transport does not shy away from the fact that live sheep export standards and practices were deficient in the past and needed to improve.
However, in response to community and industry concerns about live export practices, the Australian Government has commissioned several internal and independent reviews, adopting a myriad of recommendations aimed at improving oversight, reporting and ultimately animal welfare outcomes. These include the McCarthy Review and the Moss Review.
Most recently, new rules came into place for live sheep exports in April 2023, and the Australian Government has progressed the establishment of an Inspector-General for Animal Welfare that will complement and strengthen the current functions of the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports.
While new restrictions have resulted in a significant fall in the number of live sheep exported by sea, mortality rates have improved dramatically, and are continuing to improve. Key statistics contained in official reports to the Australian Parliament are reproduced in Table 1.
Table 1: Key Statistics for Live Sheep Exports by Sea. Source: Reports to Parliament.
These objective, and publicly available, statistics confirm that live sheep exports by sea could and should continue under strict regulation.
ALRTA believes that the majority of Australians are not opposed to meat production, transport, processing, consumption or live export provided that reasonable animal welfare standards are met.
Given the very significant benefits that the live export trade delivers to Australian rural and regional economies, many of which have few other economically viable options, our first obligation must be to fully explore solutions that reduce risks and facilitate continued trade.
Our domestic livestock supply chain benefits from international trade and other nations rely on Australia to supply food to their growing populations. Over 100 countries around the world export livestock, but in establishing the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and requiring that all exported animals be slaughtered in approved premises, Australia has gone further than any other nation to protect animal welfare.
Asian and Middle Eastern markets simply cannot afford to substitute live imports with chilled boxed meat, nor does Australia have the capacity to supply it. Already, meat processors across Australia cannot find enough staff to process current domestic livestock production. Despite this, meat processors will of course support closure of live exports because domestic livestock prices will fall and farmers will have no alternative but to accept the processor price.
If Australia prohibits live sheep exports by sea, Middle Eastern countries will continue to import live animals from other countries with lower welfare standards, such as countries located around the Horn of Africa. Australia should not surrender the live export trade to less regulated competitors.
Further, as with any complex policy issue, it is important to take a balanced perspective and consider the views of all affected stakeholders.
It would be fair to say that the public outcry about live exports has been at least partially fuelled by a lobby that is philosophically opposed to meat consumption and associated production systems. If live sheep exports are banned, this lobby will move onto their next target. ALRTA is concerned that giving ground on live sheep exports by sea, especially when the trade has demonstrably improved under better regulation (Table 1), will embolden extreme animal activists who will have succeeded in destroying an industry regardless of its actual animal welfare performance. Australian livestock producers, transporters, handlers and processors will likely be subject to increased trespassing, harassment and disruption in the hope that a similar outcome can be achieved across the entire livestock supply chain.
We must fight to save this important part of the Australian livestock value chain.
ATA COUNCIL CONSIDERS EMPLOYEE-LIKE WORK
ALRTA representatives Athol Carter (Executive Member) and Mat Munro (Executive Director) attended ATA Council in Canberra this week. Also in attendance were Andy Divall (ATA Board and LBRCA member) and Kevin Keenan (ATA Owner Driver Rep and LRTAV member).
There were two primary matters under consideration.
Firstly, the NTC provided an overview of progress on the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review. It is slow and complex. Not much progress is visible on the surface, but we expect regulatory impact statements analysing defined proposals to be released for comment in 2023 and draft legislation to be released in 2024. ALRTA will participate in further consultation with the HVNL Steering Committee next week – the main topic being access reform.
Secondly, ATA Council considered the various positions articulated by members in response to Australian Government consultation on employee-like work and independent contractors. Included in this reform package are potential reforms that would establish a division of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to perform a role similar to that of the former Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
While we understand that the former RSRT has no friends within industry, unions or government, it is reasonable to be cautious about the particular nature of the head of power that would establish the new FWC division – primarily to limit the potential for rogue independent Commissioners to embark on reforms not supported by regulated stakeholders.
After much discussion, ATA General Council passed a motion regarding the proposals:
That the ATA General Council—
- considers that the trucking industry must be safe, progressive and sustainable, and supports practical, evidence-based policy measures to achieve these aims
- nonetheless, agrees that the Government’s employee-like forms of work/road transport industry proposal presents potentially devastating consequences for our supply chains and national productivity
- agrees that responding to the proposal is within the ATA’s scope, while noting that ARTIO is responsible for and should take the lead on responding to the commission on IR matters
- calls on the ATA and its members to identify and articulate common positions on as many issues as possible, as well as being aware of where different views are being advanced
- to achieve the best outcome possible, agrees that the ATA and its members will need to work together closely to respond to the Government’s consultation process and to lobby parliamentarians
- agrees to establish a council committee to meet at least fortnightly once the proposal is released to develop the industry’s response.
ALRTA will remain engaged in the consultation process in cooperation with like-minded industry stakeholders.
$20,000 FINE FOR EXTREME FATIGUE BREACH
A NSW Court has imposed a $20,000 fine on a heavy vehicle driver for an extreme fatigue breach. The driver was prosecuted by NHVR for working 19.5hrs in a 24-hour period. The driver’s longest rest break was just one hours and 30 minutes.
WOMEN & LEADERSHIP AUSTRALIA SCHOLARSHIPS
Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) is currently offering professional development scholarships for women across all areas of the Transport and Logistics Sector.
To encourage more women to increase their impact at work and step into leadership roles across our sector, scholarships of $1000-$5000 per person, for women in our industry are available for attendance at leadership development courses.
Applications close on the 31st of July 2023. Find out more.
ALRTA RECRUITMENT PROCESS
An ALRTA selection panel (Scott McDonald, Athol Carter and Grant Robins) undertook face to face interviews with applicants for the ALRTA Executive Director position in Canberra this week.
A preferred candidate will be recommended to ALRTA National Council next week.
ALRTA will announce an appointment to members as soon as possible.
ALRTA MEMBER MAIL OUT
Members are advised to look out for a hard copy mail out from ALRTA containing an update from ALRTA President Scott McDonald about our association activities over the past 6 months. Also enclosed is information and offers from our National Platinum Partners.
ALRTA NATIONAL COUNCIL
ALRTA National Council will next meet formally via video link on Wednesday, 14 June 2023.
For more information please contact the ALRTA Secretariat via email@example.com
LRTASA ANNUAL CONFERENCE – NEXT WEEK
ALRTA President Scott McDonald and Executive Director Mat Munro will head to Adelaide next week to participate in the LRTASA Annual Conference.
The event will feature a keynote address by SA Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP and presentations on eNVDs, AFM templates, prosecution lessons, mapping, succession planning, mental health and zero emissions engines.
To attend please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SAVE THE DATES FOR 2023
- LRTASA – 16-17 June 2023 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, ADELAIDE SA
- LRTAWA/NATIONAL Combined Conference – 4-5 August 2023 – Abbey Beach Resort, BUSSELTON WA
- LRTAV – 11-12 August 2023 – Mercure, BALLARAT VIC
- LRTAQ – 28-29 September 2023 – The Ville Resort, TOWNSVILLE – QLD
SAVE THE DATES FOR 2024
- LBRCA – 23-24 February 2024 – WAGGA WAGGA NSW