Author Topic: Appears Liberal Govt out to destroy animal welfare in Australia  (Read 2874 times)

WA Export News

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Appears Liberal Govt out to destroy animal welfare in Australia
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2013, 02:17:43 PM »
Federal Government scraps welfare advisory group.

The group that provided animal welfare policy guidance to the Federal Government has been disbanded.

The Coalition Government will scrap the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Committee, which brings together representatives from livestock industries and welfare groups, as well as research organisations and government.

It oversaw the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, which drove a review of standards and guidelines for sheep and cattle production, and livestock transport.

  Animal welfare committee scrapped height=227  Photo: The Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Committee drove the development of new standards and welfare guidelines for sheep and cattle production and livestock transport. (Jeremy Story Carter)   

The chairman of the Advisory Committee, former Australian chief vet Dr Gardner Murray, says dissolving the group is unwise because animal welfare is a huge mainstream issue under intense public scrutiny.

Dr Murray says Australia's approach to animal welfare is highly regarded internationally, and disbanding the Advisory Committee will harm the development and implementation of policy in the future.

"In a qualitative sense, yes [it will], because it's a very inclusive body that is representative across the spectrum, and a body like that is pretty unique.

"What we suggest and recommend are really agreed by a whole group, so yes, there is simply no question in the world that by abolishing the Committee you're going to lose something significant," he said.

"Government has got to make its own decisions about how it's going to manage and reduce monies, sometimes in the process of looking at budgets the qualitative nature of the purpose is excluded from the thought process, but I have no idea if that's happened in government.  <blockquote>  By abolishing the committee, you're going to lose something significant. It doesn't strike me as a wise move. 

Dr Gardner Murray, chairman, Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Committee
"It doesn't strike me as being a wise move."

This [advisory committee] is unique, and importantly, under our governance rules, although people may come from the Cattle Council of Australia or the university sector, for example, in our meetings they really operate as independent experts. In my view they've been terribly successful."

The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has defended the Government's decision to axe the Committee, saying that the national Budget is under intense pressure and something has to give.

"People can suggest another group they'd want to disband in its favour. I'm not being trite, but someone could say, oh well, we'll cut funding to the ABC and we'll make the money up there.

"The reason we're doing this is because it can be absorbed back into the Department of Agriculture, which will continue to have oversight over the national animal welfare goals and objectives under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy," Minister Joyce said.

"In my discussions with people who have a stake in the process, they're quite at ease with this."

But Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes, who sat on the Committee as a representative of the animal advocacy sector, says she's devastated that the group is being dissolved.

"The Australian Animal Advisory Committee has been progressive, it certainly means that Australia has looked at animal welfare and seen it as important.

"The message it's giving to our community and, I have to say, our trading partners too, is that animal welfare doesn't matter any more," she says.

"The Committee has been able to bring animal advocates, veterinarians, government welfare people and livestock industry leaders around the table to have progressive discussions.

"That will all go."  So long as the Government don't scrap the Animal Welfare Strategy itself, we won't be materially worse off than we were before. 
Matt Linnegar, CEO, National Farmers'

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon described the decision to scrap the Committee as "disappointing", saying that as agriculture minister, he "placed great value on the work of the AAWC and relied upon it for assistance in building public confidence in the live export sector."

"[The decision risks further damage to public confidence in the live export system, and the long term sustainability of the sector," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"The Government's unpredictable and inconsistent changes to live export policy should be of concern to the industry and community alike."

The National Farmers Federation, which also had a representative on the Committee, says the important question is whether the national animal welfare effort will be better or worse off as a result of the decision.

"My answer is that we absolutely support the Government in its efforts to reduce red tape," NFF chief executive Matt Linnegar said.

"There's always someone who'll be disappointed by a committee like this going, but have to support measures that reduce red tape.

"So long as the Government don't scrap the Animal Welfare Strategy itself, and that's still acted upon, then we won't be materially worse off than we were before this decision was made.

"But we recognise that getting those players together in one room, to offer consensus advice to government, is worthwhile.

"The impetus is now on all those groups, including NFF, to find a way of getting together anyway, in the absence of this Committee." 

ABC Rural  By Anna Vidot

« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 11:27:46 PM by WA Export News »