Communication and engagement in livestock export regulation
This submission concerns Review by the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports of the performance of functions and exercise of powers by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Department) in regulating livestock exports under the Export Control Act 2020 (Cth) and the Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021 (Cth). It is made by the Corporations Committee of the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia (the Committee). The Committee welcomes the opportunity to make a submission.
Given the existence of a live export trade, animal welfare groups are an important and legitimate stakeholder. This is acknowledged in the Department’s policy, ‘Stakeholder Communication and Engagement Policy—Live animal exports’ (Policy).1 The Committee notes that the review will assess how effectively the Department engages with livestock export stakeholders. In the Committee’s view, the Department’s engagement with animal welfare stakeholders does not appropriately balance the interests of live exporters and animal welfare, and could be improved by:
1. recognition of independent veterinarians and animal welfare groups as primary stakeholders in relation to non-routine regulatory matters that affect animal welfare;
2. greater transparency regarding the consulted stakeholders and the inclusion of animal welfare input into ‘Policy Guidelines and procedures development that affect export operations’; and
3. full publication of the reports of Independent Observers (IOs) and associated video footage.