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Humane Society International (HSI) Australia is calling on Australia’s state Agriculture Ministers to publicly announce their phase-out timeframes for battery cages without delay, after this week’s Agriculture Ministers Meeting concluded with no state-specific deadlines.
On Thursday, Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt announced that all state and territory Agriculture ministers had endorsed the new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry which calls for a battery cage phase out by 2036, but that it would be left to each state to decide exactly when they will implement it.
Encouragingly, WA Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis said she is hoping to bring the deadline forward for the state, expecting an end to battery cages in WA by 2032.
Georgie Dolphin, Animal Welfare Campaigner at Humane Society International Australia said:
“The confinement of layer hens in barren battery cages is inherently cruel and out of touch with community expectations. It’s encouraging to see the federal and state agriculture ministers united on a step in the right direction for animals, but it’s not the concrete decision we needed to see.
“Our haphazard and fragmented federal system for animal welfare means that Ministers will each need to enact the newly agreed standard into the animal welfare laws in their own jurisdictions, meaning there will be no consistency across the nation.
“The poultry review is now in its eighth year, yet state governments are still stalling with only one announcing a likely phase-out date. Australia clearly needs an urgent overhaul of the animal welfare standard setting process. Each year this continues to drag on, millions more hens continue to suffer, locked away.
“We thank the WA Government for their confidence in bringing forward the deadline to a much more logical 2032, and we’re calling on the other states to step up as well—don’t chicken out and set a phase-out for well before 2036.”
The ACT is the only region in Australia that has already banned battery cages, enacting the change back in 2014, almost a decade ago. Also, major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi all have long-standing commitments to phase out battery caged eggs by 2025, a strong indication of the growing consumer demand for an end to cruel intensive production systems.
Australia has been lagging behind the rest of the world by continuing to cage layer hens. More than 75 per cent of OECD nations have already outlawed or are winding up conventional battery cages, including the UK, New Zealand, Mexico, and the entire European Union.
“Huge credit goes to the vast majority of Australian consumers who continue to drive this important change. They have long-called for battery caged eggs to be removed from supermarket shelves and voted with their wallets, selecting cage-free options or avoiding eggs altogether.”
HSI Australia is one of the core members of the Australian Alliance for Animals, whose combined efforts, along with RSPCA Australia, will eventually see an end to cruel battery cages.