This comes after footage from employed livestock carriers departing Australia emerged, causing public protest over the activity. The footage which was aired in April 2018 on 60 Minutes demonstrated sheep going through severe heat stress; wounded and sick animals being left to die; decaying bodies and newborn lambs dying.
Western Australia's Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development charged Emanuel Exports, a Perth-based live export firm, alongside two of its directors, after an 18-month investigation. Charges for cruelty to animals under the State’s Animal Welfare Act, relate to the stress experienced by sheep on the trip from Fremantle to the Middle East on the Awassi Express in August 2017. In fact, 2,400 sheep died throughout the trip, and the vessel was then renamed Anna Marra.
The 2018 Moss Review noted that the focus by the Department on trade facilitation had a negative impact on its role as a moderator of animal welfare. This amounted to the ongoing authorization of shipments, with authorities ignoring the substantial evidence throughout the years that animal health and well-being would be threatened.
The RSPCA has endorsed the bill, stating that as the the Department of Agriculture overviews the regulation of animal well-being, the establishment of the Inspector-General will highlight the need for strong supervision. Moreover, the RSPCA congratulated Minister Bridget McKenzie on passing the bill and acknowledged the amendments proposed by Senator Mehreen Faruqi and supported by the opposition, ensuring animal well-being as a key element of the role of the Inspector-General. Whatsoever, it is highlighted that the Inspector-General will not immediately solve the ongoing issue of animal handling related problems in the live export trade.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) welcomed the move which demonstrates the dedication of the government to improve the activity and animal well-being outcomes by establishing the legitimate care importers, exporters and producers have for the animals. ALEC CEO, Mark Harvey-Sutton, stated that
The appointment of the Inspector-General will only enhance our systems and improve regulator performance and provide the community with further transparency and assurance around the livestock export industry.