On World Environment Day the Government turns its back on animals
Despite promising to establish an independent Office of Animal Welfare more than two and a half years ago, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is now refusing to show any support for the move. In November 2011 a motion was carried at the Labor Party National Conference to establish this long overdue initiative. With over 90% of Australians being horrified at the treatment of Australian animals supplying the live trade, the exposure of abattoir cruelty and the intensification of production systems, the ALP responded to public concerns and voted to establish the Office of Animal Welfare to address these and the many other animal welfare concerns.
Or did they? Well apparently yes, but they didn’t really mean it. This was a great way to stem the public outcry over the barrage of cruelty confronting people every time they turn on the television or pick up the paper. And while they lulled everyone into thinking they cared, they quickly rebuilt the live trade industry and it was business as usual. How they must have laughed!
Humane Society International (HSI) is disappointed by this turnaround given the creation of the Office is already long overdue. Verna Simpson, HSI Director, said “Labor has failed to deliver on this much needed independent Office, where animals can be protected and their welfare properly monitored. In the hands of the Department of Agriculture, decisions involving their welfare have inherently favoured economic gain, resulting time after time in animal welfare disasters.”
The Australian public have shown a growing concern for the welfare of animals and there is an increasing demand for transparency when it comes to livestock farming. The sale of ethical produce is escalating as the community is becoming more concerned about where their food comes from. But with intensive farming dominating the marketplace the focus is continually on cutting costs to maximise profits, and often it is the animals that have to pay the price.
Ms Simpson continued, “It is time for a statutory authority that sits outside the agriculture portfolio and is dedicated to animal welfare policy, science and law. Labor needed to follow through with their promise but they have missed the opportunity and now nothing will happen prior to the election. Will the Abbott Government support improved animal welfare? They have no policy and no plans they are willing to share.”
HSI believes that the Office of Animal Welfare should sit within a new Ministry of Food. Food security is the biggest threat to future populations and there is a growing move around the world to focus on these issues, but Australia is not taking notice. Just tackling the waste would reduce the need to produce food by 40%. But that would mean taking on the supermarkets and legislating against ‘best before’ dates, and other built-in deceptions that help increase the profits of these giants.
But our Government still believes there are no fridges in Asia and that a handful of shipping magnates and a few industrialists in the top end rate more than the collective will of the Australian voting public.
We would like to thank the Greens for tabling the Bill this week and for trying to get this legislation over the line before the election, and to the Independents who have shown strong support for ending institutionalised animal cruelty in Australia. With an election looming and neither of the major parties showing any interest in livestock welfare, the next few years are looking very grim for Australian animals.