Report considers welfare changes

27 May, 2016 02:00 AM
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RSPCA WA inquiry chairman Rick Mazza.
RSPCA WA inquiry chairman Rick Mazza.

PROSECUTION for animal cruelty cases should be authorised and overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), according to a report tabled in State parliament last week.

The report was the outcome of a parliamentary inquiry into the operations of RSPCA WA.

It has made 56 findings and 26 recommendations regarding the RSPCA WA's operations and its prosecution powers.

It also highlighted the strained relationships between RSPCA WA and DAFWA and its relationship with Racing and Wagering WA during the live baiting scandal in the greyhound industry in 2015.

Inquiry chairman Rick Mazza said the investigation was in response to issues raised by members of the public and industry groups into the RSPCA WA's operations and animal welfare inspector's use of power.

"There has been a lot of criticism for the inquiry, but I believe it has been a valid attempt to clear the air and set the record straight," he said.

The inquiry found there was a lack of direction and oversight by DAFWA, which resulted in RSPCA WA inspectors acting independently in prosecution matters, and confusion as to the prosecuting body in animal welfare cases.

It also found previous advertising by RSPCA WA could be perceived as misleading and factually incorrect to the general public.

One of the recommendations is that the Animal Welfare Act 2002 be amended so prosecutions are authorised and overseen by the CEO of DAFWA or a nominated representative. DAFWA is also to maintain a list of general inspectors on its website.

Mr Mazza said it was important for the Animal Welfare Act 2002 be amended to ensure that the powers of RSPCA WA inspectors, as well as local government authorities and parks and wildlife officers, was clearly defined.

The 2015 co-investigation by RSPCA WA and Racing and Wagering WA into the live baiting scandal in the greyhound industry was also scrutinised in the inquiry, with the committee recommending that RSPCA WA publicly confirm no evidence of live baiting had been discovered in WA and that the $10,000 reward for information has not been claimed.

The RSPCA WA slammed the report, with president Lynne Bradshaw questioning inquiry motives.

"RSPCA WA questions why it was necessary to put a charitable organisation through the expense and stress of a parliamentary inquiry when a simple review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 would have sufficed,"she said.

"In addition, we believe the RSPCA WA, its staff, volunteers and supporters have been unfairly criticised."

The government has two months to debate the report before recommendations are adopted or rejected.

Key inquiry recommendations:

Only the DAFWA CEO has the power and discretion to appoint all general inspectors

All prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 are authorised and overseen by the DAFWA CEO

Additional inspectors to be appointed in region and remote area to meet the identified animal welfare needs

RSPCA WA to publicly confirm no evidence of live baiting and the $10,000 reward for information into live baiting remains unclaimed

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READER COMMENTS

Hank
31/05/2016 9:08:58 AM, on Farm Weekly

Suggestion that prosecution cases should be authorised by DAFWA is an absolute joke. There wouldnt be any prosecutions...but then thats the aim. Always has been the aim.
Who Cares?
1/06/2016 9:15:17 PM, on Farm Weekly

What a scam! DAFWA should be closely monitoring these so called regulated industries....then there would be no cause for RSPCA to be involved! There's a reason they're acting independently at prosecution cases, they have to! Quite simply DAFWA is ineffective.

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