Greens launch 'factory farm' offensive

09 Feb, 2015 06:30 AM
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Upper House MP and Greens spokeswoman for animal welfare, Dr Mehreen Faruqi.
Many factory farming practices, such as sow stalls and battery cages, are unnecessarily inhumane
Upper House MP and Greens spokeswoman for animal welfare, Dr Mehreen Faruqi.

A PLAN to create an independent Office of Animal Welfare and to put an end to "cruel factory farming practices" is the cornerstone of the Greens animal welfare policy launched on Sunday.

NSW Upper House MP and Greens spokeswoman for animal welfare, Mehreen Faruqi, unveiled the party's plans to protect animals, saying the creation of an Office of Animal Welfare is long overdue.

Dr Faruqi told Fairfax Media that it would for the first time ensure that animal welfare in NSW is regulated "without influence" from the government or the agricultural sector.

"Too many animals in NSW are at risk from animal cruelty," she said.

"Many factory farming practices, such as sow stalls and battery cages, are unnecessarily inhumane. While there have been some industry efforts to phase these out, it is now time to relegate these cruel practices to the history books where they belong."

RSPCA 'not up to task'

The move also comes after recent criticism of the RSPCA's ability to prosecute animal cruelty cases.

Animal groups have called on the RSPCA to relinquish its role as prosecutor under the state's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The organisation has previously admitted that it is unable to effectively regulate the state's puppy farms under current funding arrangements.

Fairfax Media has previously reported animal activists group Oscar's Law had uncovered evidence of alleged animal cruelty at the Frazer puppy farm in northern NSW last year but was outraged that the farm was allowed to keep operating despite evidence of "squalor, malnourishment and freezing conditions", along with a history of disturbing RSPCA NSW vet reports.

The Greens policy is to establish an independent office take the primary responsibility away from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), be given a staff of 40 which include animal welfare investigators to work with police to identify and prosecute animal cruelty. It would be costed with the $5 million of current funding from the DPI plus additional; small recurrent funding increase.

They also want activities relating to animals to be licensed including dog breeding, slaughterhouse regulations, farm animals.

And they want to introduce a ban on battery cages for hens, pig stalls and farrowing crates.

Although there have been some voluntary industry initiatives such as Woolworths phasing out battery eggs and Australian Pork Limited committing to a partial sow stall phase-out, the Greens argue that legislation is required to ensure improved welfare for all farmed animals.

Marshall backs regulator plan

In January, Nationals MP Adam Marshall lobbied the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, to establish a dedicated task force. The Northern Tablelands MP has had two puppy farms raided in his electorate in the past year.

Mr Marshall suggested that the government could overhaul the current animal welfare system and look at establishing a separate agency to monitor these cases of animal cruelty.

"These cases highlight the need for more rigorous monitoring." he said. "If there have been breaches of the code of practice, then these people need to have the book thrown at them."

Animal welfare groups have been calling for the establishment of the office for the past year.

Animal Liberation spokeswoman Emma Hurst said the Office of Animal Welfare needed to be separated from the DPI.

"The Minister for Primary Industries' main focus is to protect the financial stability of primary industries and welfare often falls in opposition to this," she said.

"The current minister is pushing for controversial ag-gag laws, which will prevent issues of animal welfare reaching the public," Ms Hurst said. "Instead of trying to cover up welfare issues, the focus of any minister with the portfolio of animal welfare should be to rectify them."

Ms Hurst called on the minister for police to take on the responsibility for the role. "That is the only way it would work," she said.

Ms Hodgkinson would not comment whether the NSW government would consider establishing an Animal Welfare Office.

She reiterated the NSW government's commitment to animal welfare through the Companion Animals Taskforce and said that the animal welfare system, "will soon be bolstered even further through the introduction of the NSW Biosecurity Bill".

According to the legislative framework, the yet-to-be-introduced NSW Biosecurity Bill is designed to "protect the economy, human health and the environment from problems associated with pests and diseases of animals".

The state's chief regulator of animal welfare, RSPCA NSW, has declined to comment.

- with Eryk Bagshaw

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READER COMMENTS

THE FARMER
9/02/2015 7:21:24 AM

Thought police, nanny staters. They would have Kommissars follow us around all day on farm if they could. When its hot & the cricket's on they can sit in the heat with the flies.
Farmers' daughter
9/02/2015 8:41:49 AM

there are some very scary 'statements' being uttered - "it would for the first time ensure that animal welfare in NSW is regulated "without influence" from the government or the agricultural sector". if I've got tooth ache, i'll seek advice from a dentist not a political party spokesperson. Likewise "They also want activities relating to animals to be licensed including dog breeding, slaughterhouse regulations, farm animals". I was of the belief that there is already considerable legislation in place. Looks like another back door approach to kill off primary production.
angry australian
9/02/2015 9:24:07 AM

This is just a friendly reminder to all those farmers who "lock the gate" at the behest of your local green that if you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas. At the end of the day The Greens will appease the vegans, ferals and inner city Balmain hoi polloi first, they don't really care about the 94% who aren't rusted on to their Utopian ideals.
Cam
9/02/2015 9:29:17 AM

So where will they get the staff for this office. They will be nothing but a bunch of townies running around the bush looking lost. A neighbour of mine had a fly veil on one of their mares in a paddock near the road on a 35 degree day the other week. RSPCA inspector comes knocking saying a tourist driving past put in a complaint about the "blindfold" on the horse on a hot day. Yep just what we need.
chelseaf
9/02/2015 11:02:15 AM

Best idea i've ever heard of in politics. It makes me wonder what all the farmer types are whinging about (again). If practices in NSW are as squeaky clean in NSW as the primary producers suggest then why not let the greens bring in this bill - what a marketing tool it would be!? If, one the other hand, farmers have something to hide... It strikes me that a clever producer could take advantage of this whole situation rather than whinging and sitting idly by.
Makka
9/02/2015 11:07:49 AM

Will we also be banning the import of livestock products from countries which do not comply with these draconian regulations? Also, are their supporters aware that these measures will vastly increase the price of the food they take for granted?
Johno
9/02/2015 11:48:45 AM

chelseaf uses the same old stereotypical line again (what about the whinging greenies!) but this belies the real agenda - to shut down any agricultural production systems that don't invite the cows and pigs into the loungeroom and treat them like the human beings the greens perceive them to be. Perhaps they should spend more time getting rid of feral cats.
angry australian
9/02/2015 12:31:56 PM

chelseaf, the usual disingenuous argument from those who don't care about what human rights they trample, as long as Napolean from Animal Farm is well. You want to divert at least $15m, for if a pollie says $5m it's usually $15m with add on costs, from schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure to fund a dream! Just what do you do that makes you so blase with taxpayers' money. I'm getting sick of you devotees of Pete Singer and Christine Townend who can spot alleged problems but have no credible alternative solutions. We have animal welfare laws, learn to live with them.
Mabna
9/02/2015 4:25:50 PM

Don't shut the farm gates, open them, if the animal farmers have nothing to hide what are they so incensed about? They are the same people who say they love their dog, but want to eat their pig. (Who is smarter than the dog). Go figure!!!
Chick Olsson
10/02/2015 5:01:04 AM

The majority of Aussie farmers already have an open gate policy, and welcome any visitor with genuine hospitality and friendship, something we need to encourage and promote. The few that do abuse their animals should be prosecuted and booted off the land, those awful few that give us all a bad name.
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