The animal law landscape in Australia is generating widespread political interest as live animal exports, the National Food Plan and sow stalls take centre stage of regulatory and political discussions.
Voiceless has expressed its opposition to live exports after news of the inhumane slaughter of 10,000 Australian sheep in Pakistan through ineffective and brutal means, writing to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry calling for an independent inquiry and the ban of live exports.
In light of this latest scandal, Andrew Wilkie MP introduced a revised Bill governing the trade: the Livestock Export (Animal Welfare Conditions) Bill 2012.
The Bill creates a definition of "treated humanely" which has various effects, including the mandating of stunning prior to slaughter except in limited exceptions for approved ritual slaughter arrangements.
The Bill also requires the Secretary act to ensure that animals are treated humanely or no longer exported upon reasonable grounds for not being treated humanely and for livestock export licence holders to provide any evidence of inhumane treatment.
“The discovery of more cruelty to Australian livestock, this time in Kuwait, makes a mockery of the Australian Government’s supposed efforts to clean up the industry,” Mr Wilkie said.
“The fact clearly remains that Australia’s live animal export safeguards remain ineffective and our livestock, in particular cattle and sheep, are still being routinely abused en route to and in overseas markets.”
The Senate discussed the issue in Matters of Public Importance on 10 September. Senator Lee Rhiannon advocated a ban on live exports and spoke in support of Mr Wilkie’s Bill in the lower house, noting that it should be extended to cover ritual slaughter.
Debate on Senator Rhiannon’s own bill calling for an end to live exports began on 11 October.
"Events of recent weeks involving the cruel treatment of the live export shipments from Australia and the failure of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System highlight yet again why it is time to ban the live export trade," said Senator Rhiannon.
"The Labor government must respond to the mounting public concern over the cruelty involved in the live export of Australian livestock. It does need to move quickly to end the trade."
More space for cruelty?
The Queensland Government has amended the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to include minimum space allowances for pigs housed indoors as recommended in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - Pigs 3rd Edition. This has the effect that the space requirements for pigs housed indoors recommended in the Pig Code are now mandatory in Queensland.
While this is being heralded by the industry as a win for animal welfare, Voiceless believes the mandatory requirements are still practicing animal cruelty.
“The mandatory Code outlines dimensions for farrowing crates, space requirements for pigs housed indoors and rules around the surgical castration of male piglets. While it is pleasing to see animal welfare being incorporated into Codes, these practices still subject sentient creatures to abhorrent cruelty,” said Ruth Hatten, Voiceless Legal Counsel.
Voiceless weighs in on National Food Plan Green Paper
Voiceless has expressed its primary concerns and recommendations in a submission to the Federal Government on its National Food Plan Green Paper.
On 17 July 2012, Minister Ludwig released the Green Paper as the Federal Government moves to develop Australia’s first National Food Plan to better integrate all aspects of food policy and ensure a sustainable, globally competitive and resilient food supply.
Voiceless does not agree with the overall approach outlined in the Green Paper. We believe that animal welfare has not been considered adequately and, as a result, will produce a National Food Plan which does not address broader objectives of securing better health and nutrition nor allow Australia to maintain its position as a ‘responsible global citizen’.
Within Voiceless’s submission, we urged a number of amendments to the Green Paper. Key recommendations include trade policies that ensure high animal welfare standards, the establishment of forums and committees with adequate animal welfare representation; clearer product labelling; greater support of plant-based diets and research and development to improve animal welfare.
Voiceless opposes proposed Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012
In August, Voiceless provided written comments on the proposed Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, a list of recommendations including a game licence allowing children and non-residents to hunt and the registration of a dog for hunting.
In its submission, Voiceless opposed hunting or poisoning any animal for the sake of sport or ‘conservation’. While Voiceless acknowledges that Australia is an island with fragile ecosystems and unique native species, and that environmental issues stemming from the introduction of non-native species must be addressed, environmental protection can and should be done in a manner that does not cause suffering to animals. This may include fertility control, fencing or other non-lethal means of population management.
Voiceless believes that viable non-lethal alternatives can be developed to replace current lethal control if scientists are given sufficient motivation in the form of community pressure and Government support. In the absence of non-lethal control methods, Voiceless believes that overriding animal protection reasons exist to prohibit recreational game hunting.
In light of our position and the matters detailed below, we oppose the proposed Regulation.