Thursday 9 June 2016
The idea of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare has been discussed and proposed at a federal level for a number of years, with the Greens introducing bills in the federal parliament in 2013 and 2015. In stark contrast, the Abbott Government took animal welfare off the Commonwealth agenda in 2013. Instead, it left individual departments of agriculture to be primarily responsible for implementing animal welfare standards.
The conflict of interest is clear. Departments of agriculture are charged with protecting and promoting profits for the agriculture industry while at the same time ensuring animal welfare. Revenue raising and animal welfare do not make happy bed-fellows.
According to Bruce Poon, lead senate candidate for the Animal Justice Party in Victoria, “Considering the growth of the vote for the Animal Justice Party since the first election it contested in 2013, the shift in community expectations and attitudes towards animal welfare in Australia has never been greater”.
“The establishment of an IOAW provides an opportunity to meet community expectations and deliver a new national framework for animal welfare and protection.”
“The Animal Justice Party’s proposed IOAW model is one of an independent, central and active voice for animals at a federal level.”
“To preserve its independence and avoid the current conflicts of interest that plague animal welfare regulation at a state and territory level, an IOAW must be established as an independent statutory authority, with its functions, powers and administration enshrined in legislation.”
“The IOAW should be responsible for:
· coordinating, developing and implementing animal welfare and protection standards at a Commonwealth level;
· investigating a new national approach to protecting animals under the law, including the enforceability of animal cruelty-related court orders in all jurisdictions, and the status of animals in law as sentient beings;
· engaging with a wide range of stakeholders (including animal welfare, protection and rights groups, industry bodies, and experts) on animal welfare standards in Australia, and improving Australia’s international reputation for the treatment of animals;
· monitoring, developing and enforcing Commonwealth animal welfare and protections laws, with a specific focus on the live animal export trade;
· working with the federal, state and territory police forces to develop specialised teams of officers who are charged with enforcing animal welfare and animal cruelty law;
· creating a centralised database for animal welfare and protection information (including legal, scientific and regulatory information) for the purpose of educating and informing law and policy makers, law enforcement authorities, the legal system, and importantly, the public, on current animal welfare and protection related topics;
· facilitating the establishment of state and territory-based independent offices of animal welfare, in order to effectively coordinate, develop and implement the objectives of an IOAW and further the rights of animals to live their lives protected from human harm.”
“The IOAW must also have the opportunity to encourage, support and commission animal science and research into any topics related to its delegated responsibilities, with a view to better informing its and the Commonwealth’s decision-making, and to give all animals a voice at a national level.”
Contacts for comment:
AJP Victorian Senate Candidate Bruce Poon: phone 0400 248 226; Email: [email protected]