RSPCA must mend fences: VFF

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

The VFF has called on RSPCA Vic­to­ria to fully com­mit to end­ing cam­paign­ing and use its in­flu­ence to con­vince the na­tional branch to do the same, fol­low­ing a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry.

A nine-per­son, bi-par­ti­san Vic­to­rian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil com­mit­tee tabled a re­port into the RSPCA last week, rec­om­mend­ing greater trans­parency around fund­ing and cam­paign­ing.

The com­mit­tee also rec­om­mended that RSPCA Vic­to­ria en­sure that it in­ves­ti­gates cru­elty to com­mer­cial an­i­mals in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions only.

RSPCA Vic­to­ria chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Liz Walker said the or­gan­i­sa­tion would im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions.

‘‘RSPCA Vic­to­ria will work with the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment each of the three rec­om­men­da­tions, while also con­tin­u­ing our progress in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions from last year’s In­de­pen­dent Re­view of the RSPCA Vic­to­ria In­spec­torate,’’ Dr Walker said.

VFF pres­i­dent David Jochinke wants more to be done.

‘‘RSPCA Vic­to­ria has made a clear com­mit­ment to stop cam­paign­ing, but un­less it washes it­self of any con­nec­tion to ac­tivism at both state and na­tional lev­els, the per­cep­tion will be that it is just a wolf in sheep’s cloth­ing, mask­ing its cam­paigns be­hind the ac­tiv­i­ties of a pow­er­ful na­tional body,’’ Mr Jochinke said.

‘‘There is a clear con­flict of in­ter­est when RSPCA Vic­to­ria has a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the State Gov­ern­ment to reg­u­late an­i­mal wel­fare laws for farms while RSPCA Aus­tralia is ac­tively cam­paign­ing against farm­ing prac­tices.’’

Com­mit­tee chair Bernie Finn said ob­jec­tions raised by stake­hold­ers in re­la­tion to RSPCA Vic­to­ria largely re­lated to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s his­tor­i­cal prac­tices.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has in the past been in­volved in an­i­mal rights ac­tivism, in some in­stances cam­paign­ing against ac­tiv­i­ties that are le­gal in Vic­to­ria, such as duck shoot­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘Some stake­hold­ers sug­gested that RSPCA Vic­to­ria in­spec­tors were in­volved in cam­paigns and ac­tion re­lat­ing to com­mer­cial an­i­mals, over­step­ping their statu­tory func­tion.’’

Mr Jochinke said stronger ac­tion from the RSPCA was needed to gain farm­ers’ trust, point­ing the fin­ger at RSPCA’s ‘‘me­dia ma­chine’’ for mak­ing their jobs ‘‘com­pli­cated’’ and con­demn­ing nor­mal an­i­mal wel­fare pro­cesses.

‘‘If RSPCA Vic­to­ria wants to end its cam­paign­ing and re­pair re­la­tion­ships with farm­ers, we need real as­sur­ance that this be­haviour is go­ing to change at all lev­els, and that there is no po­ten­tial for RSPCA Vic­to­ria to use RSPCA Aus­tralia to at­tack farm prac­tices,’’ he said.

‘‘The fact that the re­port doesn’t rec­om­mend any path­way to change sug­gests we are deal­ing with a per­fect sys­tem, but that is not what we said in our feed­back and it is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of farm­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

To read the full re­port, visit: www.par­lia­ment.vic.gov.au/eic/ ar­ti­cle/3133

Craft on show . . . East Goul­burn Val­ley group sec­re­tary Mar­garet Guppy and pres­i­dent Gwenda Met­zke with some of the suc­cess­ful dis­plays.

All in the fam­ily . . . Joan Leeder with her bas­ket that won the Swan Cup for bas­ket mak­ing with nat­u­ral prod­ucts. The cup was named af­ter her grand­mother May Swan.

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