ALTA calls for compliance clarity on new animal laws

Stock dumping media report highlights need for certainty for drivers

By Rob McKay | February 15, 2011

The image of long-distance livestock transport from Western Australia took another hit in the mainstream media yesterday, with the Perth Now news website publishing accusations of cruelty from Animals’ Angels (AA) and a picture.

In an emotive report, AA says injured sheep had been dumped by drivers and left to die at the Eucla truck stop on the Western Australian border.

But the Australian Livestock Transport Association (ALTA) believes there are deeper issues at play that need addressing.

ALTA raised the possibility that the threat of being found to have had injured stock aboard may be an impetus for stock dumping by drivers.

"While the results at the inspection stations at Eucla and Ceduna are very encouraging, the pictures that Animals’ Angels have sent out from their mobile on-road investigation are a concern to us," CEO Philip Halton says.

"We talk with Animals' Angels constantly, like we do with all the important animal welfare groups.

"They are worried that there must have been a driver who has abandoned a distressed animal, or unsuccessfully attempted to put it down at the roadside.

"We understand that worry; in fact, we share it.

"Something to reflect on is that, if a driver did this, he may have been motivated to do it by the expectation that, at the checkpoints at Eucla or Ceduna, he would have been detected and possibly punished."

Halton also reiterated the need for proper compliance framework surrounding new regulations.

"ALTA has asked governments to put in place proper compliance strategies for the new animal laws," he says.

"We’ve written to all ministers on this issue.

"A proper national compliance strategy would clearly designate, for example, the circumstances in which a driver would receive a warning and the circumstances in which regulators would pursue the customer rather than or as well as the driver."

"Getting clarity around these strategies would mean that a driver whose done all the right things would be confident that he’ll be treated fairly if he turns up at a checkpoint with an animal that’s in trouble.

"And if he’s been ‘set up’ by someone loading an animal on to his truck that wasn’t truly fit to travel, he’ll have confidence that the consignor will be held accountable for failing to meet the ‘fit to load’ requirements.

"Animal welfare laws need to have an effective chain of responsibility, just like ordinary road transport law."

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