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JOE LUDWIG: This evening I can announce that I have lifted the suspension of live exports to
Indonesia.

I'm able to announce this tonight because a number of key conditions for resumption have been met.
This includes; agreement within industry about how international standards would be
operationalised, confidence that a number of exporters in Australia are ready to meet these
standards, and advice that Indonesia is prepared to issue import permits for importation of live
cattle.

On 30 May, the Australian community witnessed shocking footage of animal cruelty. The Australian
community made it clear that it would not support a trade that allowed these things to occur.

In our ability to provide for the welfare of those animals, it is vital in securing a strong future
for the live animal export industry.

I want to make it clear that the decision to suspend the trade was not an easy decision to make but
it was the right decision to make. The Government understands that the decision to suspend the
trade has made things tough for people in the industry. I've had an opportunity of visiting many of
those people in Northern Territory, in Mount Isa, and talking with them about some of the issues
that they face.

Since making the decision to suspend, the Government has been hard at work at - to put the
necessary supply chain assurance in place so that this important trade can resume.

It has involved a collaborative effort between government, Indonesia, and from industry itself. The
Industry working group that I set up, together with Team Australia - Minister Rudd, Minister
Emerson, myself, and the Prime Minister - have been working very hard to get this trade back up and
running again quickly. In doing that, I then lifted the suspension so that we can support and
continue to support an industry that is vital, that is good for the Australian economy, and
mutually beneficial trade for both Australia and Indonesia.

And this is one of the important steps towards resumption of that trade.

Questions?

QUESTION: Is it the entire trade or just to selected abattoirs?

JOE LUDWIG: We've lifted the suspension. So what that means is that the export control licence,
people can apply for those, and if they meet the regulatory framework that's around that, which is
the supply chain assurance, then they can obtain that permit, and of course demonstrate to the
department that they've met all of the requirements in that. That is the issues around tracking,
the transparency of that supply chain, and the independent auditing of that supply chain.

So what I've been arguing for, and what we have now put in place is that a supply chain assurance
regulatory model which permits that.

QUESTION: So essentially you have individual exporters having to be responsible for all of those -
getting all of those things into place?

JOE LUDWIG: What it requires is each consignment. So if - as it has done in the past, exporters
seek an export control permit. In seeking that export control permit they would then have to meet
those supply chain assurances that I've spoken about so often.

QUESTION: Right to the very end?

JOE LUDWIG: Right to the very end. So that includes the supply chain assurance. That supply chain
assurance is the tracking, the transparency and the independent auditing. And so they will be able
to demonstrate to the department that they meet that, then the export control licence can be issued
and the trade for them can resume.

QUESTION: Senator, when do you envisage, practically, the first shipment of cattle will leave
Australia? And will it be sufficient to alleviate the backlog that's developed in the north of the
country?

JOE LUDWIG: Well, what we've done in lifting the suspension, it means that companies that are - and
I've been dealing with a range of companies in this area, they are either ready, near ready or will
shortly be ready, can then apply for those permits. So what it does is, it enables those specific
companies, individuals, who are seeking to export live animals to Indonesia can apply for the
permit, meet the regulatory framework that's in place, and then of course have that granted to
them. And then the trade can resume at that point.

QUESTION: So do you envisage a matter of days or weeks?

JOE LUDWIG: Well, I do already understand that companies like Elders, which is about 60 per cent of
the trade, are very close to meeting the supply chain assurance. So they have been working with the
department in meeting all the requirements of that supply chain assurance. When they're in a
position to then finalise that, then now - because the suspension has been lifted - they can work
with the department, demonstrate that they can meet that supply chain assurance. Having met that
supply chain assurance then they can be granted the export control permit.

QUESTION: So can you give a guarantee tonight that no Australian animal will be slaughtered
inhumanely in Indonesia?

JOE LUDWIG: What we've said continuously throughout this whole process is that it's about ensuring
that animals won't be mistreated. And that's why we suspended the trade, because of the animal
cruelty issues. We suspended the trade to allow the export control licence, the regulatory model,
to be put in place, those standards that I spoke about, the OEI guidelines to be developed; all of
that material to be put in place so that the trade could then resume while safeguarding animal
welfare outcomes because it includes those issues that I spoke about earlier, the trackability, the
transparency and the independent auditing.

And it is important to look at that, because that will mean that people will be able to look for
transparency. They will be able to look at the data, and confirm the cattle which left Australia
have left our shores, have gone onto the boats, into the feedlot, and from the feedlot into the
abattoir, and they will be able to be audited - independently audited - against that, to ensure
that their animal welfare outcomes are met.

QUESTION: Is that a guarantee?

JOE LUDWIG: It's a safeguard, because what it means is that companies will have to meet -
individual consignments - that supply chain assurance. When they meet those supply chain assurances
then they can be issued that export control permit, and of course there will be compliance
mechanisms around that. So if there's failures in the system these will be able to be picked up
through the program.

QUESTION: Minister, you've been made aware of the problems, concerns that existed about animal
welfare well before the Four Corners program, and I think you have said that you wrote letters to
various people expressing your concern about that, and you were unhappy with their responses.
Nonetheless, Four Corners came and you had to take the action that you took. Should you have done
something before that? Does the buck stop with you, in terms of having acted earlier, and will you
take - do you believe you are personally responsible in any way for it getting to the point that
the suspension was necessary, with the subsequent loss of people's money?

JOE LUDWIG: One of the important things here is that what we have had in the past is a
self-regulatory model by industry. What I was doing was writing to industry to indicate a number of
things: one, they had to improve animal welfare outcomes. No one, not I, had guessed that the ABC
was going to demonstrate the level of animal mistreatment that was available. In fact, that footage
wasn't made available to my office, my department, which could start an investigation of that,
until it aired on the 30th. What is important is that that lead up - that period up to the 30th -
we'd heard indications that animal welfare issues in a range of markets needed to be improved. We
wanted to work with industry to improve those.

Industry at that point, came back with - can I say - some plans which were a little short on detail
and not sufficiently robust for me to accept them as plans that you could guarantee they
safeguarded animal welfare outcomes.

What I then did, post that footage, of course, was take the first steps, which was to suspend into
12 - banned into 12 abattoirs - because of the nature of the footage, and the indication that those
were abattoirs that did - had mistreatment of animals.

The second thing I did, if you recall, was I then asked for the department to investigate options
to ensure we could then put in a supply chain assurance to safeguard animal welfare outcomes. The
department came back to me with clear advice that we needed to suspend, so that we can then take
this time...

QUESTION: My question was - and you've partly answered it - why didn't you act before? Aren't you,
as the responsible minister, shouldn't you have acted earlier when these things were raised with
you?

JOE LUDWIG: What I've been indicating is that I had been acting quite strongly with industry. Not
only had I written to them in January and asked for a plan about how they would deal with animal
welfare outcomes, I also then followed up with further work. If you recall, the industry then
announced a plan about how to deal with animal welfare outcomes. Forgive me for the date, it was
about April.

I then said to them, that is still not sufficient, it still does not demonstrate a sufficient
assurance that animals won't be mistreated or that animals' welfare won't be taken into account.

The industry right up to that point, can I say - and I don't want to get into this blame game, but
can I say - that the industry were still presenting plans which were too little and too late, right
up to the time of the Four Corners program.

I've been continuously working and arguing with the industry that we do need to lift animal welfare
outcomes right across our export - live animal export market.

QUESTION: Minister, I still don't quite understand, you're saying you're going to track the animals
through to the abattoirs, but what's new in this agreement to stop the animals being treated like
we saw them being treated in the Four Corners report? As I understand it your team of Australian
vets haven't been allowed into Indonesian abattoirs.

JOE LUDWIG: What I indicated was that - in my opening remarks - was that - four things: we'll deal
with the supply chain assurance first. The supply chain assurance means that the exporter is
required to trace the animals from the domestic supply chain into the feedlot, from the feedlot
into the abattoir. The abattoir will be independently audited. That will mean that they will then
have to meet OIE guidelines to ensure animal welfare outcomes, and that independent audit will be
available because of the transparency issue that I've mentioned.

What that means - what that means...

QUESTION: Who will be these independent auditors?

JOE LUDWIG: Independent auditors, such as SAI Australia is one. And there are a number of ...

QUESTION: There'll be a [indistinct] of auditors.

JOE LUDWIG: No, no. It will be independent auditors in Indonesia that will be able to audit the
supply chain. But bear in mind it's the exporter which is required to provide that assurance. So
they will then have to go and deal with the supply chain assurance and those elements that I spoke
of. They will have to demonstrate that clearly to the department, that they have met those
requirements. In meeting those requirements they will have to meet the last requirement - which I
mentioned was the independent auditor.

QUESTION: How many approved abattoirs are there - if the exporters - if it's up to the exporters to
take them over there, how many approved abattoirs are there, right now?

JOE LUDWIG: And that's right. It will depend on - as people come forward, as companies come
forward, such as Wellard, such as Elders, and say we can meet the supply chain assurance, we have
abattoirs available to us that meet OIE guidelines, we have the independent auditing, we have the
transparency, we have the tracking - the ability to trace the animal through the supply chain, then
they will get a consignment, the export permit will provide - will be provided to them, and so they
will be able to go into that abattoir.

So what my...

QUESTION: So no abattoir is approved yet?

JOE LUDWIG: Well, what we are doing is lifting the suspension so once the suspension is lifted
we've put in place the framework to allow exporters to come forward and say we meet the supply
chain assurances.

So, as I indicated earlier, Elders, such as Wellard, are very close to meeting the supply chain
assurance, they will be able to come forward and say we meet the supply chain assurance. In meeting
that they will have to demonstrate those elements, that is the tracking, transparency and
independent auditing. In meeting that they will then say where the abattoir is, and that it meets -
in that independent auditing - OIE guidelines.

QUESTION: What's the advice from Elders about how - and those other companies - about how many
abattoirs are going to be involved? There's about 700, I understand, in Indonesia, all up.

JOE LUDWIG: What we're looking for is the progressive re-opening of the trade and so what that will
allow is that each consignment will be able to - companies will be able to apply for those permits
and then re-open the trade as they move forward.

QUESTION: Given that Elders has already been saying that they can assure the animal welfare
standards, has it been worth it, to shut down this industry for so long?

JOE LUDWIG: What's important is maintaining animal welfare outcomes. No one would want to see...

QUESTION: But Elders...

JOE LUDWIG: No one - let me finish because it's important to put this in context. No one would want
to see the cruelty that we saw on the Four Corners program.