If ever there was a time when the interests of animals in this country needed to be represented in the Australian Parliament, it is now. Animal welfare rates scant mention in the Turnbull Government’s 2016 Budget, except to transfer responsibility to the states.
In this era of multi-lateral free trade agreements, the Animal Justice Party views this abrogation of responsibility for animal welfare by the Commonwealth as unacceptable, and economically unjustified. The responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government in animal welfare have now been watered down to virtually nothing.
Australia has become a huge exporter of live animals of all species, as well as the meat from Australia’s unique native macropods. The AJP believes this is totally unsatisfactory and calls for an independent office of animal welfare with powers of investigation and policing similar to the ACCC and ASIC.
We strongly oppose the funding of small exporter assistance to market kangaroo meat internationally. We also oppose the live trade in cattle and sheep, with its industry-determined animal welfare codes.
Animal cruelty in Australia continues on an epic scale, with the Budget offering nothing. Animals are affected by the activities of many Commonwealth Government portfolios, but none of the portfolio budget statements or ministerial statements talks about it. This government-sanctioned cruelty is Australia’s shame.
It is time there was a cross-portfolio focus on the impact the Government’s various activities have on animal wellbeing. Commonwealth portfolio initiatives and responsibilities in agriculture, trade, the environment, health, education, tourism and infrastructure development should be high on the list for early action.
The AJP welcomes further Budget support for plant-based agriculture, which we see as more ethical, healthy and environmentally responsible than lethal animal agriculture.
We also support ongoing initiatives in the Environment portfolio on the protection of specified marine animals and other threatened species, including in relation to their illegal trade. The AJP would however stress that the focus of rigorous protection needs to be extended to all Australian native animals via the EPBC Act, rather than to only a few species.
A crucial baseline in progress towards a smarter, more holistic and sustainable economy is to regard the use of animal cruelty to meet economic goals as unconscionable and without moral justification. Our view is that any politicians, institutions and enterprises supporting animal cruelty are ethically and morally diminished.
An approach to economic policy that values the capability and wellbeing of animals can generate greater national benefit for all. We propose an economic policy with wisdom, compassion, and fairness as guiding principles. These principles are absent in the economic policy narrative of the 2016 Budget, with its people- and animal-free mantra of labour productivity, innovation and aggregate demand.
Professor Steve Garlick, President, Animal Justice Party. email@example.com