THE welfare standards of Western Australian livestock during transportation, at saleyards and depots has changed to be in line with the national standards and guidelines which were agreed upon as far back as 2012.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the new regulations would modernise the animal welfare rules for transporting livestock in WA.
Ms MacTiernan said the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards and Depots) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations 2020, follows broad consultation by government with the community and industry - and implements the standards set out in two Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.
Ms MacTiernan said "the McGowan government amended the Animal Welfare Act 2002 in late 2018 to allow Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines to be implemented in Western Australia for the first time".
"The national standards have been endorsed by all States and Territories, some dating back to 2012," Ms MacTiernan said.
"Implementing the transport standards now brings WA into line with other States and Territories, while we are among the first to implement the standards for saleyards and depots.
"Clearly most farmers and transporters provide excellent care for their animals, but we need the ability to take action if this does not occur.
"It is in the interest of all livestock producers to have clear and transparent standards in place."
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will work with industry stakeholders to promote awareness of the new regulations and understanding of any changes under them.
In addition, the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle have been adopted as a Code of Practice, which covers the use of pain relief when dehorning adult cattle.
WAFarmers Livestock Section president David Slade said on the surface the announcement seemed to be in line with what the industry was happy to accept.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore said the new regulations had been drawn up with industry consultation and while they appeared "on the surface to be quite reasonable, I always get nervous when lawyers are leading the charge on the pretence that it's good for the industry".
"As with all aspects of law, we're in the hands of those charged with upholding the law, in this case the inspectors," Mr Patmore said.
"If the inspectors have a sensible and reasonable interpretation of the law, then these regulations will do a good job of cleaning up the industry and prosecuting negligent or recidivist offenders.
"But we don't want to see a situation develop where our compliant members are hindered in their normal course of livestock handling by overzealous inspectors.
"Time will tell."
The Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of WA president David Fyfe said "it is premature to be contemplating new regulations ahead of the Animal Welfare Act Review (Black Review) making its recommendations which are imminent".
"There has been no convincing case made that the current regulation and code of practice system is ineffective," Mr Fyfe said.
"Pursuing national consistency for the sake of national consistency is not a sound basis for amendment, particularly when all States have completely different legal frameworks.
"Rather than simplifying the animal welfare regulatory regime, these regulations have added a layer of complexity that will have an impact on the compliance.
"We are concerned that these changes being made ahead of the larger review will result in unforeseen consequences.
"For example the regulations introduce a number of new definitions that may be impacted by amendments flowing from the overall review of the act."