Category Archives: Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Labor animal welfare policy may gratify activists

Farm Weekly, 13th May, Colin Bettles

SHADOW Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says the Labor party’s soon to be released animal welfare policy will seek to cut red tape while upholding growing community expectations of livestock production standards.

But he has remained coy on whether the Opposition’s policy position will indulge the Independent Office of Animal Welfare (IOAW) that farm groups have repeatedly opposed but animal rights groups support.

Today, Mr Fitzgibbon visited Yass in southern NSW with Labor candidate for Eden Monaro, Mike Kelly, holding meetings with locals, including farmers, to ventilate topical issues like animal welfare standards.

He said the Opposition’s animal welfare policy for the 2016 election campaign would soon be unveiled detailing his core objective to reduce regulatory burden rather than increase it.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the Labor party’s national conference last year committed to an IOAW and he supported that resolution.

But he promised more detail would be revealed in the coming weeks about how he planned to implement the party’s actual policy.

“I am determined that we do have standards in Australia that assist with both the productivity and sustainability of the sector which protects it from charges of animal cruelty,” he said.

“And I want to do that in a way which does not impose a regulatory burden but certainly helps provide the sector with a future.

“It’s good for the sector if people, consumers and animal activists know that we have a government that is working with the sector to ensure community standards are upheld.”

RSPCA Australia and animal rights groups have released a list of core federal election demands, including calling for an IOAW to be adopted by the federal government.

They have also slammed the Coalition government for axing the $1 million per year Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) immediately after the 2013 election and also urged its return.

But farm groups say the AAWS should not be restored and oppose introducing an IOAW saying a federal watch-dog only adds to existing regulatory burdens while yielding no practical advantage.

The IOAW was designed on a pre-tense the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources possesses a conflict of interest in managing welfare outcomes, while overseeing the expansion of animal production.

But during an inquiry into legislation by the Greens to establish an IOAW in this term of government, the Department rejected that allegation saying animal welfare and livestock profitability had shared values, with improved practices leading to “healthier animals that produce a higher quality, safer and higher value product”.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had heard and understood the various views put forward about the Department’s alleged conflict of interest in managing animal welfare and livestock profitability but kept his gunpowder dry.

“I’m determined that we will produce a policy which helps the sustainability and the profitability of the sector as we see the rise and rise of community concern about animal welfare issues,” he said.

“But at the same time, reducing regulatory burden and hopefully, doing more with the States to better harmonise some of the rules around animal welfare more generally.”

WoolProducers Australia senior vice president Ed Storey operates a fourth-generation wool enterprise near Yass and participated in talks with Mr Fitzgibbon today on core election issues.

Mr Storey welcomed the discussions but said his group had “grave concerns” about introducing the IOAW or returning to the AAWS.

“We see a lot of regulatory creep that only imposes additional costs on livestock producers while achieving little practical benefit,” he said.

Mr Storey said the Labor Shadow Minister understood industry concerns about the IOAW proposal “but the proof will be in the pudding” on any policy announcement.

He said while the AAWS wasn’t discussed, his group saw it as an unnecessary bureaucracy that failed to generate practical animal welfare improvements and “we’re absolutely against bringing it back”.

“The AAWS was just a talk-fest that achieved nothing in meetings with people whose credentials were questionable,” he said.

“They were mostly animal activist groups who are not interested in practical animal welfare standards and don’t want people using livestock for anything like food production or even owning pets.”

It’s understood the National Farmers’ Federation’s Animal Welfare Taskforce – Chaired by Chris Groves – is set to produce a broader, current view on the IOAW proposal.

Retiring Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke – one of the chief architects of the IOAW concept – used her valedictory speech last week to reinforce the need for greater regulatory oversight on animal welfare standards.

The Office gained legs at the 2011 ALP National Conference where Ms Parke also raised a motion to end live exports in a four year phase-out that was defeated 215 (against) to 174 (for).

At the time, Ms Parke said the new Office would be a statutory authority operating outside of the agriculture portfolio, dedicated to animal welfare policy, science and law and independent of undue influence from competing political and commercial interests.

She also acknowledged the work of RSPCA policy officer Jed Goodfellow in assisting with designing the proposed model.

Last week in her farewell speech, Ms Parke said “Lyn White, of Animals Australia, uses forensic investigations and powerful advocacy to raise public consciousness of the plight of the millions of animals raised, transported and slaughtered for human consumption”.

“I agree with the former President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, David Weisbrot, who said animal welfare would be the next great social justice movement,” she said.

“Establishing properly resourced independent offices of animal welfare at federal and State levels should be a priority to ensure that animal welfare laws and policies are strengthened, harmonised and enforced.”

RSPCA Australia has joined Animals Australia, Voiceless and World Animal Protection in calling for the government to restore the AAWS and establish the IOAW as part of a group election campaigning platform.

The collective advocacy block has also called for a ban on live animal exports and a ban on the commercial kangaroo trade.

RSPCA Australia said leaders of the main political parties, Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale, need to redress the lack of leadership on animal welfare issues during this year’s election campaign.

RSPCA Australia Chair Gary Humphries said Australia had been going backwards on animal welfare over the past three years with the dismantling of departmental and administrative structures for animal welfare and withdrawal of AAWS funding.

He said RSPCA Australia was also seeking a commitment from government to work with livestock industries to increase the nation’s meat exports and reduce live exports.

Original: http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/general/news/labor-animal-welfare-policy-may-gratify-activists/2752570.aspx?storypage=4

 

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Political Animals! Australia needs an Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Political Animals – Anne Boxhall article

May 8th 2016

With a federal election around the corner, now is your chance to ask your representatives to commit to standing up for animal welfare. It’s time to remind politicians that large numbers of Australians feel strongly about the treatment of companion animals, wildlife and farm animals. Food retailers are getting the message with farmed meats and eggs increasingly being marketed under higher standards of animal welfare. Politically though, Tony Abbott’s government took us backwards by dismantling Australia’s animal welfare strategy and not acting to end the live animal export trade despite a litany of on-going atrocities. While other countries have stepped up, Australia has fallen behind. Farmers themselves (and industry groups who represent them) are raising concerns over the fragmented approach to animal welfare laws and standards. Existing laws still allow cruel practices to be inflicted on animals, practices that are no longer allowed in other countries. In 2014, Australia fell behind countries such as New Zealand, UK, Germany and Denmark on a ranking of animal welfare laws and policies of livestock producing countries. A key step in protecting the welfare of Australia’s animals is setting up an independent office to take a leadership position on animal welfare. Respected animal protection organisation Voiceless recently used its national lecture series to advocate for such a body. Currently there is no dedicated branch for animal welfare within the Department of Agriculture. It follows that animal welfare should not be in the hands of departments of agriculture whose primary objectives are economic outputs and industry protection as opposed to ensuring the welfare of animals. Voiceless has provided a summary on where Labor, the Coalition and the Greens stand on establishing an independent office of animal welfare. The summary is available at http://www.voiceless.org.au

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House debate: Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Government House debate, Monday, 11 February 2013

Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Photo of Melissa ParkeMelissa Parke (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, Homelessness and Social Housing) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source

I want to take this opportunity to speak about the proposed Independent Office of Animal Welfare. Last November, caucus acted on the 2011 National ALP Conference platform commitment to establish this much-needed oversight body and I am pleased to say that work on the model for the office is well advanced. Australians care about animals, farmers care for their livestock, families care for their pets and people feel passionately about Australian wildlife. There is virtual unanimity regarding the importance of the humane treatment of animals, yet public faith in Australia’s animal welfare system has been undermined in recent years by revelation after revelation of cruelty to livestock, both here and in countries to which we export live animals. In almost every case, the systemic mistreatment has been revealed by animal welfare groups, and the public is right to wonder how these incidents can happen when Australia has good animal welfare laws and prides itself as a world leader in animal welfare. READ MORE HERE

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Labor MPs pushing to ban live exports

Nick Perry ; AAP ; November 07, 2012

CAN note: it is not our usual practice to include animal welfare stories outside of cats and dogs, but this particular article on the live export matter caught our eyes. We have highlighted the sentences that relate to Labor Ministers who are pushing for the establishment of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare. If this takes off, it could and should include companion animals, which could be a huge step in the right direction. At the end of the article, we include email addresses for MPs Zappia and Thomson.

THE federal government is under mounting pressure from within the Labor caucus to phase-out the live animal export trade, after 21,000 Australian sheep were slaughtered in Pakistan.

Questions have again been raised over the trade after footage emerged of the sheep being brutally culled – with some buried alive – by authorities in Karachi.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig described the cull as a distressing but “isolated incident” that didn’t reflect the industry as a whole.

But Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson rejects this, saying he will push for the establish of an independent office of animal welfare when a Labor caucus working group on live animal exports next meets, hopefully before parliament resumes. READ MORE HERE

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