Author Topic: Row heats up over SA animal welfare prosecution rights  (Read 783 times)

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Row heats up over SA animal welfare prosecution rights
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 06:44:44 PM »
A PUSH to give PIRSA the power to manage livestock animal welfare and prosecute cruelty cases in South Australia is likely to be fought out in a deadlock conference in Parliament.

The amendment to the Livestock Act proposed by Family First MLC Rob Brokenshire passed through the Legislative Council last week with the support of the Liberals and two Independent MPs but the government, which holds the majority in the House of Assembly, where it could be tabled after a three-week break, is vehemently opposed to stripping the RSPCA of its role.

Both Family First and the Liberals are concerned about the effectiveness of the charitable organisation to bring offenders to justice, especially after a legal bungle saw the State's largest livestock animal cruelty case thrown out of court.

They also say the organisation is financially stretched. It was paid $660,000 last year by the State Government to investigate and prosecute breaches of the Animal Welfare Act but then put in more of its own money from donors to make up a funding shortfall.

Despite this, the RSPCA is adamant it has a long and successful track record and has the independence needed to put the welfare of all animals first.

Mr Brokenshire says he has no personal agenda with the RSPCA but believes PIRSA was the right agency to police welfare of livestock and horses under the Animal Welfare Act.

He supports the RSPCA continuing its role of managing companion animals such as dogs and cats, and wildlife.

He says most of his constituents believe PIRSA staff � including the chief veterinarian and chief inspector � have the specific qualifications and experience in livestock to work with farmers, especially during droughts, to ensure their livestock are well-treated.

"They need to ensure animal welfare and also that there are opportunities for agriculture, particularly the livestock industry, and understand the fact farmers need to make a living," he said.

Mr Brokenshire says the government's decision to empower RSPCA was purely budgetary but it was unfair to continue to burden the RSPCA for its "budget mismanagement".

"There are questions about whether an organisation which is a charity should be in the business of prosecution," he said. "One reason (the government) doesn't want to see the amendment passed is because it will add costs to their budget but farmers pay taxes so why should the government walk away from its responsibility just to save some money.

"If they need to employ another couple of inspectors the government will just have to cut some of the waste to find the money."

Opposition spokesperson for agriculture Adrian Pederick said PIRSA staff would provide a more balanced approach to producers and the wellbeing of animals.

"PIRSA will do the job well and make compliance work whereas the RSPCA is seeking prosecution which is not always the right approach," he said.

Mr Pederick said PIRSA staff who already had a prominent role at saleyards could work well with producers and stock agents.

He was concerned the RSPCA was becoming closer to animal activist groups which could potentially infringe on farmers' rights to farm.

*Full report in Stock Journal, April 5 issue, 2012.

05 Apr, 2012