AJP Independent Office of Animal Welfare proposal gains Labor support
An Animal Justice Party proposal for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare has gained federal Australian Labor Party support.
Professor Steve Garlick, President of the AJP said “The AJP proposes that the Commonwealth Government establish a regulatory office focussing on animal welfare. The Office of Animal Welfare would cover all animal sectors coming under Commonwealth Government legislation.”
Professor Garlick said ALP support for the AJP proposal was confirmed in a letter from the Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Mark Butler.
Mr Butler had said that when in Government the ALP “would work with the states and territories to identify the most appropriate structure of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare operating independently of government. Labor would also re-establish state and territory intergovernmental cooperation to ensure animal welfare matters receive the consistent national approach they deserve.”
“We welcome the fact that the ALP sees the need for government to look more closely at animal welfare in areas such as live trade, kangaroo killing and intensive animal agriculture. We are happy to work closely with the ALP to ensure an animal welfare regulatory framework and agenda such as this becomes a reality”, said Professor Garlick.
”While ALP support is important, nevertheless an AJP presence in Parliament is vital to ensure animal welfare issues are taken into account in relevant government-supported programs.”
Professor Garlick said the IOAW would function similarly to regulatory bodies like the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission or the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. He said, “The recent ABC 7.30 program showing appallingly cruel treatment of Australian exported live cattle to Vietnam once again demonstrates that industry and the Turnbull government cannot be relied on for animal welfare.
An Independent Office of Animal Welfare would prepare a regular State of Animal Welfare report for Parliament, including breaches to legislation. It would also report to a relevant Ministerial Council to ensure consistency and collaborative effort between all spheres of government, Professor Garlick said.
“”It would include an independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare, with policing functions. Such arrangements would make any need for the so-called ‘ag-gag’ legislation(1) being considered by the Turnbull Government, completely redundant[i],” he said.
“The support of the Labor Party for an IOAW means that such an office may soon become a reality and a welcome light will at last be shed upon a wide spectrum of animal cruelty activities in Australia.”
[i] Ag Gag legislation is legislation specifically designed to curb animal activist monitoring and investigative activities within the agricultural sector. For example In September 2015 the NSW government signed into law the Biosecurity Bill 2015. The Biosecurity Bill legislation has been criticised and labelled as the advent of Australian “ag-gag” legislation due to the powers and provisions it provides law enforcement with, particularly regarding activist activities on behalf of mistreated and abused animals.