As the regulator, we are committed to continuous improvement. We have several live animal export reform activities in progress. These are designed to:
- increase the efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness of regulation administration
- increase transparency of live animal export trade regulations
- provide community assurance on the effectiveness of live export trade regulations.
These also address many key recommendations from recent reviews.
We have several key projects underway to reform live animal exports.
Australia’s agricultural trade reform
The department is transforming Australia’s agricultural trade export services by:
- making more services available online
- streamlining processes for producers to export
- safeguarding Australia’s reputation as a reliable, high-quality exporter.
Over $450 million is being invested in trade reform initiatives. This includes $328.4 million for The Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters package. This package aims to grow and strengthen the agricultural export sector.
These reforms will ensure:
- it is easier for producers and exporters to get their goods to market
- Australian products are of the highest standard
- Australian products meet our trading partners requirements.
The Busting Congestion package includes the following measures that are relevant to live animal exports:
- Digital Services To Take Farmers To Markets: This investment of $222 million is delivering modern digital and IT capability to streamline Australia’s agricultural export system. This will help exporters experience faster and more cost-effective services by making more transactions available online through a single export account.
- Improving Regulation Post–COVID-19 including Targeted Interventions for Seafood and LAE. This measure will build a modern, reliable data reporting and analytics capability. This initiative will support risk-based, data led regulation. This will also ensure regulation is timely, cost-effective and targeted.
In addition, the department is progressing a suite of projects agreed with the livestock export industry via a roundtable working group that are improving the regulatory framework.
We have 6 key projects underway as part of Australia’s agricultural trade reform.
The project aims to streamline the administration process of approved arrangements through:
- improved business processes, guidance material and IT systems to streamline the process
- finding a balance between checking individual consignments and checking exporters’ systems
- timely, proportionate, and predictable action on non-compliance.
Some key deliverables from this project include:
- implementation of a risk-based and streamlined process for assessing notices of intention (NOIs). This has significantly reduced assessment times.
- commenced a trial to reduce NOI assessment times and reduce compliance burden on exporters. The trial aims to better accommodate the commercial realities faced by exporters where consignment details can change frequently leading up to the date of export. This trial selected exporters shipping livestock from Darwin to Indonesia. Feedback from the exporters and staff participating in the trial has been positive. The next steps will be to determine whether we can extend the trial to all exporters in that market.
- implementation of a National Livestock Identification System tag check automation process for China cattle consignments. This has reduced the time taken for part of the process from 4 hours to 13 minutes.
- revised and published the list of core documents that livestock exporters with approved arrangements must provide to us for each consignment.
- commenced work on a 12-month schedule of enhancements to the Tracking Animal Certification for Export (TRACE) system. These will improve its ability to:
- automatically advise exporters on required documentation according to export market. This will streamline the management of consignment documentation by exporters and the department
- provide a centralised location for exporter Approved Arrangement/Approved Export Program documentation. This will improve accessibility for exporters and the department
- identify changes made to an NOI application after each variation
- automatically verify information that we hold in different databases
- provide exporters with automated real-time consignment status tracking and tools. This will allow exporters to advise us on the status of required information
Through the Streamlining Approved Arrangements Framework project, we identified a barrier to implementing more risk-based and targeted regulatory approaches. This barrier was our performance and compliance framework and supporting systems.
We completed 47 hours of detailed user research with:
- registered establishment operators
- accredited veterinarians
- departmental staff.
This research allowed us to better understand the problems with the performance and compliance framework.
We are co-designing an improved live animal export compliance framework with relevant stakeholders. This framework will use digital tools that more accurately reflect exporter compliance. This will support exporters to continuously improve their performance. This will also allow us to respond to non-compliance more precisely.
It will enable us to reduce the regulatory burden on compliant exporters while maintaining the integrity of the trade.
This discovery work is now leading to the creation of a new digital capability, improving how we manage risk and compliance. This will also:
- reduce regulatory burdens and costs to exporters
- improve visibility of exporter compliance history throughout the supply chain
- improve targeting and streamlining of our assessments
- improve consistency of service delivery.
Our assurance framework refers to all the activities we do to check whether regulated entities are meeting:
- importing country requirements
- Australian Government export requirements including animal health and welfare standards.
Regulated entities include exporters, accredited veterinarians, and registered establishments.
These activities include:
- inspecting livestock
- assessing documents
- conducting audits
- the independent observer program.
We do these activities at different points in the export supply chain such as:
- at the registered premises prior to export
- on vessels
- in overseas countries through the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.
Together these activities provide us with assurance that exporters are meeting their requirements. We can then provide assurances to our trading partners and the community.
The project is looking at our framework to see what improvements can be made to support our assurance activities to be more efficient and effective.
The first phase of the project has focused on the independent observer program. The main aims of this part of the project are to:
- integrate the independent observer program into our assurance framework, and
- reduce the cost of the program without reducing assurance that animal health and welfare outcomes are being managed on vessels.
This program follows on from recommendations of the Moss Review and departmental feedback.
This program aims to increase clarity on the purpose, role and reporting requirements of AAVs. This will be achieved through further engagement, training and auditing of AAVs.
AAVs play an important role in the regulatory framework, including in pre-export activities and shipboard reporting. By strengthening the AAV program, the public and government can be assured that AAVs and exporters are meeting animal health and welfare standards and importing country requirements.
Some key deliverables from this project include:
- the AAV accreditation course has been updated, which now reflects changes to export legislation and livestock export standards. This ensures AAVs are provided with the most up to date information to perform their work
- providing clarity on roles and responsibilities of AAVs throughout the export process. This is being achieved through updating guidelines and providing clarity on their legislative and operational requirements
- developing a guideline to support AAVs submit and update their material interest declarations. This will ensure the department and AAVs are able to manage conflicts-of-interest in a professional and ethical manner
- developing an audit and assurance program for AAVs
- ongoing work to engage with AAVs and provide training to ensure their work is being conducted to the level that is required.
This project focuses on building a modern and reliable data reporting and analytics capability. This will support timely and efficient regulation of all live animal exports. We will achieve this through the development of a digital and integrated reporting model. This will connect live animal export data across the live export supply chain.
This will allow:
- better identification of trends and potential risks in the live export supply chain
- us to implement targeted risk-based regulation and policy measures.
Some key deliverables from this project include:
- building a single integrated reporting model for live animal exports
- improving our collection, handling and use of data captured under the regulatory framework
- replacing manual data processes with digital solutions through system enhancements and systems development
- transitioning to Power BI as a visualisation tool. This also makes data more accessible to users and supports regulatory functions and operations.
- securing access to external live animal export data systems. This includes developing an automated data transfer system to receive and store regulatory LIVEXCollect data from the Australian Livestock Export Corporation (LiveCorp). LIVEXCollect standardises data entry and reporting, allowing improved data aggregation and analysis.
By March 2022, we estimate that the initial deliverables from this project will reduce departmental costs by $120, 000 a year. This is through time saved on data cleansing, manipulation and analysis.
We are developing policies and procedures to better engage with relevant stakeholders. This will ensure that interested parties can be confident their views on policy matters will be heard. We are also working to ensure our external communications are clear and transparent, so that all stakeholders can be confident of what our requirements are and our approach to regulation.
Some key deliverables from this project include:
- updated livestock client service standards
- developing a public stakeholder and communication engagement policy
- updating information on our websites to ensure information is current and helpful
- reviewing the current list of EANs and migrating information to appropriate webpages. To date this has reduced the current list of EANs from 180 down to 55, making it easier to check which EANs still apply. This ensures information is easy to find and information is only located in one place.
Animal welfare in livestock exports
We monitor welfare outcomes and conduct regular reviews related to the welfare of livestock for export to inform policy and standards development. Reviews of livestock exports outcomes also guide our reform activities. They help us create better export conditions, standards and regulations. This leads to improved health and welfare of exported livestock.
The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are regularly updated to ensure the standards reflect industry and regulatory developments, and the best available science and evidence.
2021/22 reviews include:
- Heat and cold stress in Bos taurus cattle from southern Australia during long-haul export by sea
- Review of live sheep exports by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer
The Inspector-General for Live Animal Exports (IGLAE) also conducts regular reviews.
We will update our webpages and information about our current reviews and previous reviews shortly.
Historical events, reviews and reforms
|ASEL 3.2 commenced. It included updates to clarify requirements and reduce ambiguity.||November 2021||Reform|
|ASEL 3.1 commenced. It incorporated changes in line with new export legislation.||March 2021||Reform|
|New and updated legislation implemented that is easy to understand. New laws support our livestock industries to innovate and be more efficient.||28 March 2021||Reform|
|We started collecting ASEL reports using LIVEXCollect.
LIVEXCollect, built by LiveCorp, standardised data entry and reporting. This improved data aggregation and analysis, which helps us do our job as a regulator more efficiently and gives LiveCorp access to data for research and development activities.
|ASEL 3.0 commenced. It implemented recommendations from the 2018/19 Technical Advisory Committee review of the ASEL.||1 November 2020||Reform|
|We participated in a roundtable working group with:
|Prohibition periods were introduced for the export of live sheep to the Middle East on 1 May 2020 and is enforced under the Export Control Rules. This followed a comprehensive review of heat stress risks associated with the live sheep export trade in the Northern Hemisphere summer, considering:
||1 May 2020||Reform|
|In consultation with AMSA, we prepared the Post Implementation Review on the:
||15 September 2020||Review|
|Technical Advisory Committee review of ASEL air standards completed.||October 2019||Review|
|Following assessment of the relevant science and evidence, we prohibited the export of live sheep to the Middle East between 1 June 2019 and 31 August 2019. This was introduced under the:||April 2019||Reform|
|Technical Advisory Committee review of ASEL sea standards completed.||March 2019||Review|
|Amendments to the Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 were made. All livestock exporters must have an approved export program (AEP). This contains instructions for AAVs.||July 2018||Reform|
|In response to McCarthy Review recommendations, we set new standards for livestock vessels to the Middle East between May and October. This included:
|The McCarthy Review, initiated in response to the Awassi Express incident, was completed. It reviewed conditions of the export of sheep to the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer.||May 2018||Review|
|We began the Independent Observer (IO) program. It appoints independent observers to accompany consignments of livestock on a voyage.||April 2018||Reform|
|Sixty Minutes aired footage showing unacceptable animal welfare of sheep on board the Awassi Express. Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, announced a number of measures in response:
|All exporters must have an approved arrangement to export livestock, unless they hold a small and infrequent exporter exemption.||January 2017||Reform|
|The transition to the new approved arrangements regulatory model began. From April 2016, exporters could apply for an approved arrangement. This was a significant reform, moving away from individual consignment approvals.||April 2016||Reform|
|The Livestock ESCAS report is released. The report looks at how effective ESCAS was for animal welfare outcomes and trade. It includes data and examples of how ESCAS has been useful for different markets.||January 2015||Review|
|ESCAS implemented in Egypt. This was the last of current export markets to be covered under ESCAS.||March 2014||Reform|
|Review of the ASEL and Livestock Export Standards Advisory Group (LESAG) was completed.
|We coordinated a review on behalf of the Industry Government Implementation Group (IGIG). This was in response to recommendation 14 of the Farmer Review.||April 2013||Review|
|The Fremantle Review was completed. It reviewed export inspection processes at the Port of Fremantle.||December 2012||Review|
|ESCAS implemented across all other active livestock markets except for Egypt.||December 2012||Reform|
|ESCAS expanded to Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.||September 2012||Reform|
|ESCAS expanded to Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey.||March 2012||Reform|
|The Farmer Review was completed. This was an independent review of Australia’s livestock export trade.||August 2011||Review|
|Following the suspension of trade to Indonesia, we worked with industry to develop a new regulatory model known as ESCAS.
In August 2011, the first consignment was exported to Indonesia under ESCAS.
|The live export trade to Indonesia was suspended following an ABC 4 Corners program in May 2011. The program showed footage of mistreatment of Australian animals in Indonesian abattoirs.||June 2011||Event|
|ASEL 2.3 implemented||April 2011||Update|
|ASEL version 2.2 implemented||December 2008||Update|
|ASEL version 2.1 implemented||December 2006||Update|
|ASEL version 2 implemented||September 2006||Reform|
|The first version of the ASEL was implemented||July 2005||Reform|
|The Keniry livestock export review finalised. This review was triggered by sheep mortalities on the MV Cormo Express. Saudi Arabia had refused to allow the vessel to unload sheep in August 2003. The review recommended a national welfare standard for livestock exports.||December 2003||Review|
|Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep on board the MV Cormo Express. This was due to the sheep being infected with scabby mouth.||2003||Event|
|New legislation was introduced:
|The Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 were introduced.
Exporters of live animals must apply for a permit.
|The Quarantine (Animals) Regulations 1935 were introduced. A government-approved veterinary surgeon must examine all animals within 48 hours of shipment. Livestock must be healthy and meet quarantine requirements of the importing country. The vet issues a Certificate of Health and a Permit to Embark to animals that met conditions. Animals that did not meet conditions could not be exported.||1935||Reform|
|The Navigation (Deck Cargo and Livestock) Regulations 1926
The first regulations were introduced for livestock export. They included space, food, and ventilation requirements.
|The first trade in livestock from Australia started. Gradually, over time, trade expanded to include more species and markets.||1830s||Event|