De­bate hin­ders wel­fare Bill

Countryman - - NEWS - Tom Zaun­mayr

Scare­mon­ger­ing and di­vi­sive de­bate risks un­der­min­ing gen­uine re­form to WA’s out­dated an­i­mal wel­fare reg­u­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to the RSPCA.

As pub­lic scru­tiny of an­i­mal wel­fare in WA mounts, partly due to the re­cent live ex­port scan­dal, the State Govern­ment has been press­ing ahead with amend­ments to an­i­mal wel­fare rules first in­tro­duced in 2017.

RSPCA WA pres­i­dent Lynne Brad­shaw said de­bate on “rel­a­tively mi­nor is­sues” had clouded the real pur­pose of the Bill.

“The na­tional Stan­dards and Guide­lines have been in place in ev­ery other Aus­tralian State and ter­ri­tory for years with­out any ad­verse out­comes for pro­duc­ers or any­one han­dling live­stock,” she said.

“If the Stan­dards can­not come into ef­fect in WA be­cause of this de­lib­er­ate spread­ing of false and mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion then WA agri­cul­ture will be seen as the lag­gards of the sec­tor Aus­trali­aw­ide.

“What should be a ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sion about the Bill has be­come a de­bate about pe­riph­eral is­sues such as who can be des­ig­nated gen­eral in­spec­tors to check com­pli­ance with the Stan­dards and other rel­a­tively unim­por­tant mat­ters which make the Bill seem com­pli­cated and im­ply it would be a bur­den on farm­ers and peo­ple work­ing with live­stock, when it will not.”

Ms Brad­shaw said claims farm biose­cu­rity could be put at risk by an­i­mal wel­fare in­spec­tors were un­founded.

Agri­cul­tural Re­gion MLC Colin De Grussa said the de­bate about an­i­mal wel­fare was a symp­tom of the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try’s strug­gle to mar­ket it­self ef­fec­tively.

“The in­dus­try can’t sit on its hands and wait for some­thing to hap­pen be­cause we will lose con­sumer trust, and have new laws, re­stric­tions placed which will be detri­men­tal to the in­dus­try,” he said.

“What needs to hap­pen in the short term is a full re­view of the Act rather than a patch-up amend­ment.”

Un­der the pro­posed amend­ments, a new cat­e­gory of in­spec­tor would be ap­pointed by the De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment.

These in­spec­tors would be able to en­ter non-res­i­den­tial premises and ve­hi­cles to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance with­out no­tice.

The Op­po­si­tion has claimed this new level of power was un­nec­es­sary but the State Govern­ment has sup­port from the WA Greens.

South West MLC Diane Evers said the el­e­ment of sur­prise when reg­u­lat­ing health and wel­fare was noth­ing new.

Ms Brad­shaw said WA’s cur­rent code of prac­tice was out of date and not en­force­able.

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