Budget estimates - Lee questions LiveCorp re live exports

video

Australian Greens animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon questions LiveCorp officials during Senate Estimates about their operations and involvement in the regulation of live animal exports. Read the transcript or watch the video.

Monday, 11 February 2013 - Senate Estimates

Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited (LiveCorp)

Mr Sam Brown, Chief Executive Officer
Mr Raoul Nieper, Chairman

[17:11]

CHAIR:  Welcome to the officers.

Senator RHIANNON:  I will start with your website. I found that it is quite out of date. The media statements are only up to February 2012 and others are about a year old. What is the issue there? We rely on the website so much.

Mr Nieper:  Thank you, Chair, for your comment 'lovingly known as LiveCorp'. It is nice to be here under that guise. Senator, I fully accept that our website is out of date. In some areas it is considerably out of date. We have recognised that well and truly and are in the process of updating it. I would hope that the next time we are here, if we are here again, we can say that it is probably one of the better websites that you have visited. At present, yes, we do have some things out of date. LiveCorp is a very small organisation, as you would appreciate-not like our cousins MLA. We have only four permanent staff and we do appreciate with the workload that we have at present in LiveCorp we do not have a great deal of time for some of the niceties of updating websites. I will ask my CEO if he will give you a bit of information on the updating process.

Mr Brown:    I have little more to add to Roly's overview other than in the coming weeks, hopefully not months, we will have a new website launch which will provide you with a suite of information, research reports,  the exercises and the programs which LiveCorp undertakes. 

Senator RHIANNON:    I notice that in your material you give emphasis to existing and developing new markets. Considering we have heard Senator Back speak about this and there has been a lot written about the enormous changes that are going on in the industry, to what extent is your work looking at new markets within Australia, having regard to the crisis that the industry is in?

Mr Nieper:  We are not focused on the Australian market. LiveCorp is focused on export and that is where our efforts are. MLA obviously does have involvement within Australia. If there was any coordination it would be through there.

Senator RHIANNON:    Considering the enormous attention the industry has received, and that there are increasing calls for an independent authority to be established separate to government and industry, with similar investigative powers to those currently granted to DAFF to regulate the export of livestock, do you see any merit in this proposal? Do you see any tension between your dual roles of supporting the industry and keeping it profitable, and looking after animal welfare?

Senator Ludwig:  You might consider that you are actually asking LiveCorp for an opinion about a policy issue. You could direct the question at me.

Senator RHIANNON:  I am happy for you to answer it.

Senator Ludwig:  I would say that all of those things are always under consideration.

Senator RHIANNON:  So you do not see that there is a tension or a contradiction in having a body whose purpose is both to make the industry profitable and to look after animal welfare?

Senator Ludwig:  DAFF plays the regulatory role in relation to this, not LiveCorp. LiveCorp, I am sure, on behalf of its members, has its members' interest at heart, which is to ensure that ESCAS operates effectively and efficiently and continues to be well supported. As I understand it, LiveCorp has that view. I am sure they can speak for themselves.

Senator RHIANNON:    In estimates last year, Mr Nieper, you explained that, as part of the work on the ESCAS regulatory framework, LiveCorp was undertaking a review of the export standards. Would you explain to the committee the findings of the review and any improvements to animal welfare that we can expect as a result of this work.

Mr Nieper:  That review is still current; it is work in progress. It is being coordinated through DAFF and we are part of that. A steering committee has been put together with agreed representation on it. It is meeting now and I could not comment more than that it is under process.

Senator RHIANNON:  When? Can you give us a time line?

Mr Nieper:  I would have to refer to DAFF to give you a time line.

CHAIR:  If there is anyone at the table who can answer that, great; otherwise, would somebody get back to Senator Rhiannon before they leave the building.

Senator RHIANNON:  When will the review be finished and released?

Mr Glyde:  We are fairly close. I will probably have to take it on notice, but I would think in the next couple of months.

Senator RHIANNON:  Would you take it on notice, please?

Mr Glyde:  Yes.

Senator RHIANNON:  Mr Brown, as the Acting CEO of LiveCorp you promised in the May estimates last year that your strategic plan and annual operating plan would be made available on your website after June 2012.

Then, in November 2012, you noted your website was in the process of being updated, and we have heard that again today. You now need a login to even see who is on your board. Why is this? Can you table the information today? When will you place these important documents on your website?

Mr Nieper:  I can be brief in that the strategic plan has been put to the department for its consideration. We have received a reply from the department with their comments on our strategic plan for the next few years. They will be considered next week by the board and at that stage we would finalise our strategic plan and, hopefully with the upgrade of our website very soon, you will have access to that strategic plan.

Senator RHIANNON:  So within a month?

Mr Nieper:  Best endeavours.

Senator RHIANNON:  Thank you.