Rural Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
Estimates hearings, 17 October 2011
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
- Mr Phillip Glyde, Deputy Secretary and Executive Director ABARES
- Mr Simon Murnane, General Manager, Livestock Industries and Animal Welfare Branch
Senator RHIANNON: DAFF's budget includes an amount for the implementation of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. I want to ask about the body that is going to be set up. Is the AAWS advisory committee and the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare will be phased out and this new body formed?
Mr Glyde: I will ask Mr Murnane to answer that question.
Senator RHIANNON: I have a few questions about the body if that is the case.
Mr Murnane: The review of the Animal Welfare Strategy in 2009 recommended that the advisory committee for the Animal Welfare Strategy and the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare should be merged into a single committee. To cut to the chase, the minister appointed the members of the new amalgamated committee in September and the new amalgamated committee met for the first time last Thursday and Friday.
Senator RHIANNON: I am particularly interested in the selection process, because I understand that, unlike how it has often been done in the past—but that is no reason to continue doing it—you are no longer selecting members on the basis of representing certain groupings but on the basis of their skills. Could you tell me who the members are and how they were selected? And, if it was on the basis of skills, what are the skills that you attempted to identify in those people?
Mr Murnane: I have here, and can table, the list of the membership and the terms of reference of the committee. They are on our website, but I am happy to table them as well. The members of the new committee are a combination of representatives of particular sectors and people with broad skills that could be of benefit to the committee. Particular sectors that are represented are the states and territories; the farming sector; and the animal welfare sector. Our department is also a member of the committee. On the committee there are also three members, who were on the previous Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Committee, to provide continuity. The other members of the committee are people who, through a process of consultation with the former advisory committee and a departmental assessment process, were judged to bring particular skills to the committee to contribute to the work of the committee.
Senator RHIANNON: Did you set out the skills you were looking for when you determined the people you were selecting? Can you provide that to the committee, please?
Mr Murnane: Yes, Senator. I will have to provide that to you on notice.
Senator RHIANNON: How often will this body report to the parliament and what measures are being taken to ensure that it retains an independence?
Mr Murnane: The reporting process for the committee is to the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and also through the minister to the forum of Commonwealth and state ministers for agriculture. In terms of reporting to the parliament, activities of the committee and progress with the animal welfare strategy will be reported on through the department's annual report.
Senator RHIANNON: From the way you have expressed it I still have a concern that this committee will be able to ensure its independence from the productivity and industry development brief that DAFF operates under.
Mr Murnane : My view is that the committee's terms of reference are very much focused on animal welfare. The principal responsibility of the committee will be to work within the new iteration of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy to identify priorities for action under that strategy and then to report back on progress made in achieving the strategy's objectives. There is a very clear set of parameters for it to work within and these are focused on the animal welfare strategy rather than on the department's other responsibilities.
Mr Glyde: I might add a point that the same relationship is indicative of this committee's structure in that it is administered by the department. With its productivity and production focus it was able to deliver the earlier versions of the strategy and the earlier committees using the method that Mr Murnane has talked about in making sure the terms of reference in its strategy relate to animal welfare in the broad.