Compliance and investigations

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources regulates the export of livestock under the Export Control Act 1982, the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry Act 1997 and associated orders, regulations and standards. This includes the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

The department may receive information about possible non-compliance with regulatory requirements from a number of sources, including:

  • self-reporting by exporters
  • independent audit reports
  • department intelligence
  • reports from third parties.

The core elements of the department’s compliance strategy are:

  • to assist stakeholders to understand their rights and obligations
  • to make it as easy as possible for exporters to meet their regulatory obligations
  • to support stakeholders who want to do the right thing
  • to actively pursue those who opportunistically or deliberately contravene Australian legislation that governs the export of live animals.

The investigation process starts with receipt of information. The department assesses the information to determine whether a formal investigation and/or regulatory action are required.

The department's process for handling information about possible non-compliance is summarised in the flowchart below:

This flowchart shows the departments process for handling information about possible non-compliance  

The department has a range of regulatory options to address non-compliance, either following the completion of an investigation or, in some circumstances, during an investigation. These options include:

  • requesting further information from an exporter about an export consignment
  • applying additional conditions to an approval to export
  • refusing to approve an application to export
  • issuing directions to be complied with by an exporter
  • taking action against an exporter’s licence
  • referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Possible criminal sanctions include fines or imprisonment.

Read the Guideline - management of non-compliance and Compliance measures and sanctions for livestock exports.

Investigations into regulatory compliance

Information about regulatory compliance investigations and their outcomes, including self-reports by exporters and reports from third parties, is published on the department’s investigations into regulatory compliance page.

Independent observations of livestock export voyages by sea

Information and findings collected by independent observers while accompanying livestock export voyages by sea is published on the department’s independent observations of livestock export voyages by sea page.

Investigations into mortalities

Since 2005, a report on livestock mortalities that occur on sea voyages is provided to Parliament by the Minister every six months. The reports are compiled from information provided by the masters of the ship and contain the name of the exporter, when the voyage took place, destination ports and details of the livestock (species, number of head, type and total number of mortalities per type). The reports also include information on any actions taken by the department to minimise risks of mortalities on future voyages.

In addition to the information contained in the reports to Parliament, with the agreement of the live export industry, the department publishes mortality investigation reports on its website. These reports primarily deal with the cause of the event and any subsequent action taken to address the issues raised. They are not designed to be record of events and do not include details of the exporters involved.

Although there is no requirement to investigate reportable mortality events, by doing so the department is able to:

  • improve transparency of the live export trade
  • determine, where possible, the cause of the high mortalities
  • determine if any action is required to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

Information about reportable mortality investigations as well as livestock mortality reports to parliament are published on the department’s investigations into mortalities web page.

How can I lodge a formal complaint?

Reports of possible non-compliance with regulatory requirements should be made in writing and sent to:

Email LAE Compliance or

Director, Performance Management Unit
Export Division
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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