Exporters to face ‘full force’ of the law

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says exporters who flout animal welfare face harsh penalties.Live exporters who put financial gain ahead of animal welfare will be named, shamed and face jail under harsh new penalties proposed by the federal government.

Fines of at least $4.2 million for companies and $2.1 million for individuals are tough enough to not be seen as a cost of doing business, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told parliament on Thursday.

Individuals who break the new laws could also feel the “full force” of prison terms of up to 10 years, he says.

The draft laws follow an inquiry into sheep exports to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer, after horrific footage emerged showing sheep dying on a ship in 2016.

It would become an offence to obstruct or hinder a vet or livestock officer, or dishonestly influence anyone involved in an export program.

Exporters who commit an offence with the intention of obtaining financial advantage over competitors, or cause “economic consequences” to would also face penalties.

Courts would also be given powers to name and shame a person found guilty, or forced to pay civil penalties.

“For those who seek to flout our laws, the full force of those laws will be felt,” Mr Littleproud said.

The penalties include:

* Up to 10 years prison or a $2.1 million fine for a company director convicted of the new offences.

* Up to 10 years prison or a $420,000 fine for other individuals.

* Penalties for companies up to $4.2 million, three times the benefit gained or 10 per cent of the company’s turnover – whichever is greater.

Labor MP Ed Husic labelled the bill a “sellout”.

The federal opposition is backing Liberal MP Sussan Ley’s bill to phase out live sheep exports to the Middle East over five years.

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