Under the constitutional arrangements, state and territory governments are responsible for animal welfare arrangements in their jurisdictions. The states and territories set and enforce animal welfare standards through animal welfare or prevention of cruelty to animals legislation. New South Wales has the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA). While the states and territories don’t have identical legislative frameworks for the protection of animals, there are some common themes:- all anti-cruelty statues share the inclusion of a range of provisions which put certain practices beyond the reach of the law. Malcolm Caufield: This is an expression of the idea that, although it is morally wrong to be cruel to animals, it is nevertheless permissible to be cruel to animals where that cruelty is ‘necessary’, ‘justifiable’ or ‘reasonable’. Prime example being – farming practices, including severe confinement and ‘surgical’ procedures such as mulesing without anesthetic (which I’ll go into more detail on the next slide). Another shared theme across jurisdictions being an absence of effective enforcement options. (For Angela – maybe expand on the fact enforcement tends to be referred to RSPCA a not-for-profit, charitable organisation, so Gov doesn’t need to put resources into it)
Mulesing is a classic and extreme example of a procedure which is considered ‘necessary and justifiable’. Mulesing involves cutting off a significant amount of skin and flesh from the rump and breach of the sheep. The aim of this procedure is to prevent ‘flystrike’, which is where flies lay eggs in the folds of skin in that area and the resulting maggots eat away at the flesh. It is done without anaesthetic.Very careful husbandry can protect sheep from flystrike without surgery. Unfortunately, sheep do not receive this sort of care and attention.There is no doubt that mulesing is extremely painful.Mulesing does reduce (but does not eliminate) the incidence of fly strike.The Australian wool industry, under pressure from international wool markets, indicated in 2004 that mulesing was to be phased out by 2010. As we know, this has not happened. In 2006, a new ‘appendix’ to the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals for Sheep, was introduced.It provides further guidance on the best mulesing method, but is a voluntary code. Because mulesing is described in this code and is thus considered an ‘acceptable husbandry’ practice, it is therefore exempt from the cruelty provisions of animal welfare laws.
At a federal level, there are a number of Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in place (which can be found on the CSIRO website). The Model Codes were written in the 80s and 90s and some have been revised over time. The Model Codes were developed by a small working group, prior to the introduction of regulatory best practice models such as Regulatory Impact Statements and weren’t subject to a lot of scrutiny prior to introduction. It is widely accepted that the Model Codes merely reflected common practice at the time. The Model Codes have no force unless scheduled to a piece of state/territory legislation. Some Codes have been implemented to differing levels of state and territory legislation, but have largely served as voluntary guides. Ironically, as GlenysOogjes of Animals Australia points out in a recent article, State legislators were actually lobbied by faming interests to recognise the Codes – ensuring that compliance with Codes was an exemption from prosecution for animal cruelty. This of course meant farmers could continue to subject animals to a range of cruel practices (tail docking and castration without pain relief, confinement to small cages etc) because if the practice was listed in the Animal Welfare Model Code, (which it generally would be because the codes reflected common practice), then you were seen to be complying with animal welfare model practices and thus could not be prosecuted for animal cruelty as you would be had you committed the same act against say a companion animal.
The mid-2000s saw a rise in community interest in animal welfare and an increase in international attention and pressureon Australia's animal welfare standards (particularly in relation to live export and the treatment of sheep in the wool industry). This attention of course, started to raise government and industry concerns about trade and export. In 2005 a review was conducted of the system of model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals. As a result of the review, it was recommended that the Codes be converted into Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. The idea was to streamline animal welfare regulation, and build consistency across jurisdictions. The Standards are designed to be legal requirements, and will say ‘must’. The Standards are intended to provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. Guidelines are ‘recommended’ practices.
The COAG Standing Council on Primary Industry (formerly PIMC) endorsed the decision to develop and implement nationally consistent animal welfare standards.PIMC asked the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to consider arrangements for reviewing the Model Codes – and reformatting into Standards. Under DAFF’s ‘Australian Animal Welfare Strategy’ (AAWS), Animal Health Australia (AHA) was commissioned to facilitate the development of the nationally consistent standards and guidelines – starting with Standards on the land transportation of livestock.AHA worked with the Animal Welfare Committee (a sub-committee of the Standing Council on Primary Industry) to manage the development of the Standards. AHA established two working groups to progress the work: A ‘Writers Group’ - made up of 4-8 industry representatives (COULD NOT CONFIRM MEMBERS). The Writers Group prepared the drafts of the Standards, incorporating feedback from the SRG; andA Standards Reference Group (SRG) - 40 members, including only two animal welfare related organisations. The remaining 38 members were comprised of industry bodies, as well as the CSIRO and other ‘technical’ experts. The SRG reviewed each draft of the Standards and provided guidance. If an impasse is reached at the Writing Group level, SRG was the penultimate arbiter. (Neither DAFF nor AHA could provide a list of members)The SRG presented a final draft to PIMC for endorsement (through the sub-committee structure.)PIMC endorsed the Standards in 2009. From here, it is up to each jurisdiction to implement the Standards. At this stage, no state or territory parliament has enacted the Standards through legislation. It is expected that most will have done so by the middle of the year.
AHA, the company commissioned to develop the animal welfare standards, is a not-for-profit public company established by the Australian, state and territory governments and major national livestock industry organisations.The company’s mission, according to their website, is to ‘ensure that the national animal health system delivers a competitive advantage and preferred market access for Australia’s livestock industries’. The company is led by an independently selected Board of Directors responsible to the members, comprising mostly members with industry backgrounds and veterinary backgrounds.AHA are funded by Australian Government, and industry. The Standards Reference Group which was established by AHA as a consultation mechanism for the development of the Land Transport Standards for Animal Welfare, and who ultimately signed off on the Standards before it went to PIMC for endorsement, had around 40 members of which only TWO related to animal welfare (Animals Australia and RSPCA). The SRG comprised mostly of industry bodies, as well as government, some technical experts such as the CSIRO and veterinarians. It strikes as intuitively odd that in the development of animal welfare standards, that the primary focus for consultation in the development of the standards was on commercial production and industry management practices.Profitability, rather than animal welfare, seems to have been the major driving force behind the reforms to the Codes.
The first Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines to be developed relate to livestock being transported by land.Trucks carrying loads of livestock are a common sight on Australian roads. It is estimated that more than 967 million farm animals are transported within Australia every year. Some of these journeys can span thousands of kilometres. Farm animals are transported within Australia to other properties, saleyards, feedlots, abattoirs and export ports. Some of these journeys may involve distances of thousands of kilometres over several days. Most land transport uses purpose-built trucks, although some rail transport also occurs.Transport is an inherently stressful process for farm animals and can cause suffering and deaths. Aspects of transport that can affect animal welfare include separation of the animals from their familiar environments and social groups, forced interaction with unfamiliar animals, unfamiliar handling by people,overcrowding, water and food deprivation, exposure to extremes of temperature and humidity, and novel experiences and situations. It is vital that animals are transported in a way that avoids injury and minimises suffering or distress. Particular care is needed for the transport of animals that are in poor condition (for example, due to drought) and transport of bobby calves - which are often transported for slaughter at less than 5 days of age and are thus particularly susceptible to stress and injury at this time. I'll be talking further about transport of bobby calves later in the presentation.Theexisting model codes relating to land transportwere adopted by reference into the General Regulation under the POCTA. So currently, it is not an offence if animals are not kept/treatedas specified in the Codes. However, referencing the codes makes them admissible as a defencein proceedings for a related offence in the Act or Regulations.The new Land Transport Standards combines seven Models Codes of Practice relating to land transport and replaces provisions on livestock transport appearing in 13 other Codes. The Land Transport Standards apply to all people responsible for the care and management of livestock that are transported throughout the entire process including agents, transport operators and people on farms, at depots, sale yards, feedlots and processing plants. These Land Transport Standards apply to the major commercial livestock species; cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry (broilers, layers, turkeys, ducks, geese), ratites (emus and ostrich), buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas and horses (including horses used for sport and recreation).
The Land Transport Standards were endorsed by the Primary Industry Ministerial Council in May 2009 and each state and territory isnow responsible for implementation. As mentioned, the AHA website for the Standards, states:Standards will be the legal requirements for livestock welfare and will use the word ‘must’. The standards will provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. However – compare this with the agreed implementation strategy (which can be found on the same website) which states that jurisdictions may ‘audit’ the standards prior to implementation, and there is no requirement for each jurisdiction to adopt each standard. Due to state elections and a range of other issues, no jurisdiction has given legislative force to the Standards to date. The SRG is meeting on 9 May to discuss the status of enacting the standards in each jurisdiction and to begin work on the Guiding Principles for Enforcement.So, a very slow process – review of model codes in 2005, endorsement in 2009, and 3 years later still no enactment. Thus, animals in transport are still subjected to the same substandard conditions and care over the past 7 years since process began.
[Acknowledge Animals Australia website for following information on bobby calves] When endorsing the Land Transport Standards in 2009, Ministers also agreed that, with regard to the management of bobby calves, that a science-based standard for maximum allowable time off feed be prepared through AHA. This was supposed to be done within 12 months for consideration by Council, but the Standard is yet to be agreed on – two years down the track. For those of you who aren’t aware, in order for cows to produce milk, they have to give birth to a calf every year. Most calves are separated from the cows within twelve hours of birth, and most do not stay on the farm for long. The term ‘bobby calves’ means newborn calves that are less than two weeks old and not with their mothers. Essentially, they are surplus to dairy industry requirements as they are not required for the milking herd. This applies to almost all bull calves (males) and around three quarters of heifer calves (females). Some bull calves will be reared for veal production and about one quarter of the heifers will become replacements for adult milk-producing cows. Bobby calves are housed together and fed usually only once a day. They are then sold, mostly for slaughter, at five days old. Products from processed calves include young veal for human consumption, hides for leather and by products for the pharmaceutical industry. Each year, this is the fate of around 800 000 bobby calves in Australia. Because they will go to slaughter, bobby calves often do not get the same standard of housing, cleanliness, care or attention as the valuable replacement heifers or the bull calves being reared for veal. Existing transport requirements for bobby calves state that they must be at least five days old before they can be transported to the abattoir. Dairy farmers sign a National Vendor Declaration stating this is true and that each calf is fit for transport. Bobby calves may go straight to slaughter or to a calf sale and then to the abattoir. The current Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:Cattle recommends that bobby calves should be transported for a maximum of 10 hours and then be slaughtered on the day of arrival at the abattoir. Existing transport requirements for bobby calves state that they must be at least five days old before they can be transported to the abattoir. Dairy farmers sign a National Vendor Declaration stating this is true and that each calf is fit for transport. Bobby calves may go straight to slaughter or to a calf sale and then to the abattoir. The current Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals:Cattle recommends that bobby calves should be transported for a maximum of 10 hours and then be slaughtered on the day of arrival at the abattoir.
AHA were asked to prepare the ‘science-based’ standard for bobby calf time off food (TOF) during livestock transport. Currently, the proposed standard allows a maximum of 30 hours without a liquid feed from the time of last feeding to the next feed or slaughter of the calf. Animals Australia and the RSPCA have lobbied PIMC hard to re-consider this proposed Standard. The current usual scenario for the unwanted male (and some female) dairy calves transported to slaughter is that they are: fed early in the day on the farm, in the 5th day of their lives (or slightly older); driven to a calf sale and assembly area or saleyard and sold at some point that day; loaded onto a truck to go to an abattoir (and often not the closest, but the one that pays the most) arriving late in the afternoon or evening; held overnight without any bedding (only a small number of abattoirs provide bedding) and without being fed; and killed at some point the next day (up to 3pm).What this shows, is that if the new Standard of 30 hours TOF is adopted, it will mean virtually no change to the existing bobby calf transport arrangements. It’s also worth keeping in mind that it has been nearly 7 years since the decision was made to reform the Codes. Animal welfare groups have suggested, and the Australian Livestock Transporters Association has agreed, that by making adjustments to the buying process – such as feeding the calves later and transporting them to the abattoir that same afternoon or evening, with slaughter occurring during the early rather than late shift – would reduce the time off food to around 18 hours, rather than the current 30. However, rather than welcoming the need for changing the process in order to reduce the period of stress and hunger for calves being transported for slaughter, the dairy industry turned to the use of “science” in order to demonstrate that keeping a calf off food for 30 hours was physically acceptable, in order to maintain the current system.This is not the onlyexample of a Standard which has not actually improved conditions for animals in transport. The Victorian Government, for example, already makes it an offence to use an electric prod on a pig during transport, however the Standard will allow the use of electric prods. Sow stalls are another example – the Tasmanian Government has already announced that it will totally ban sow stalls by 2017, whereas the Standards (endorsed in 2007 – not part of the Land Transport Standards) only refer to a reduction of time in sow stalls. It’s expected thata decision on transport standards for bobby calves will be reached by governments by the middle of this year.
So, will the new Standards and Guidelines improve the welfare of transported animals?It will firstly depend on whether or not all States and Territories will legislatively adopt the Standards as well as how much “auditing” (or in other words, watering down) is done to the Standards before adoption in each jurisdiction. It is likely that intensive lobbying by the RSPCA, Animals Australia and Community Legal Centres will be required to see their adoption, hopefully without too much watering down.We can also hold out hope that their mere introduction – on a State-by-State basis, as they are introduced in Regulations – may help raise awareness and improve compliance. Organisations such as Animals Australia will also be seeking to have jurisdictions adopt higher Standards into State legislation, over and above the agreed national Standards, which in turn will serve to raise awareness, hopefully increasing political will to increase enforcement efforts.The problems exists, however, that State governments have said they have no intention of spending any more money on compliance under the new Standards and Guidelines than they do under the existing Model Codes – which is minimal. Clearly, further community pressure will be required to force higher levels of governmental surveillance, and thus protection, for transported animals.Heightened community concern and pressure may also have a positive impact on the efforts made by industry groups in providing education tools to farmers, transporters, agents, saleyard and abattoir managers and workers. Peak industry body Meat and Livestock Australia is currently funding an initiative to develop video and web-based information, posters and leaflets aimed at increasing awareness of and assisting operators interpret the new transport Standards. Also, industry quality assurance systems exist currently but with inadequate adoption. An example is TruckCare, the Livestock Transporter Industry independently-audited program, developed (according to its website) “in response to the need to improve animal welfare, OH&S and biosecurity risks in the industry”. The problem is that only a small percentage of commercial livestock companies, and few if any farmers or small operators, are part of TruckCare, largely due to the fact that saleyards, abattoirs do not have to insist that such “assurance programs” are adopted.It is obvious that we still have a long way to go before we can say that everything possible has been done to improve the welfare and conditions of the approximately one billion animals transported each year in Australia. Some animal advocates believe that any change in the short-term to reduce suffering of animals in transport will be despite of the process to legislatively formalise the Standards, rather than because of it.
Animal law and farming practices state conference 26.4.1
DisclaimerThis presentation is provided for the purposes ofgeneral information and education, and is notintended as specific legal advice on any matter. Ifyou or your client’s have a legal problem youshould consult a lawyer.To the extent permissible by law, the NorthernRivers Community Legal Centre disclaims allliability for any detriment arising from relianceupon this publication.
Overview of the protection of animals under Australian law• Each state and territory has its own animal welfare legislation• New South Wales: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979• permissible to be cruel to animals where that cruelty is ‘necessary’, ‘justifiable’ or ‘reasonable’• Lack of enforcement
Necessary and JustifiableMulesing• extremely painful for the animal• exempt from animal cruelty laws because it is deemed necessary and justifiable• does not eliminate the incidence of fly strike• careful husbandry can protect sheep from flystrike without surgery Source: http://syd-film-blog.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/i-am-lamb-712.html
Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Animals at Saleyards• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Farmed Buffalo• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Farming of Ostriches• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Feral Livestock Animals• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Husbandry of Captive-Bred Emus• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Intensive Husbandry of Rabbits• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Cattle• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Horses• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Pigs• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Poultry• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Livestock at Slaughtering Establishments• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Pigs• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Camel• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Farming of Deer• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Goat• Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Sheep
Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. STANDARDS GUIDELINES• will be the legal • are the recommended requirements for practices livestock welfare • will use the word• will use the word ‘should’ ‘must’ • Non-compliance with• provide the basis for one or more guidelines developing and will not constitute an implementing offence under law. consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia
Animal Health Australia• Manages the development of the Standards• Membership comprises industry bodies including producers, transporters and abattoirs• Funded by Government and industry Source: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/cattle-ban-will-mean-food-shortage-for-indonesias- poor-20110608-1fszg.html
Australian Land Transport Standards and Guidelines• combines seven Models Codes of Practice relating to land transport• replaces provisions on livestock transport appearing in 13 other Codes• applies to the major commercial livestock species; cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry (broilers, layers, turkeys, ducks, geese), ratites (emus and ostrich), buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas and horses
Progress • Land Transport Standards were endorsed by the Primary Industry Ministerial Council in May 2009 • Each state and territory is now responsible for implementation • Mandatory? No • Consistent? Probably not…Source: http://cute-n-tiny.com/cute-animals/top-10-cutest-piglets-youll-see-today/
Case Study: Bobby CalvesSource: http://www.ethicalliving.com.au/2011/03/welfare-at-heart-of-bobby-calves-issue/
Revised welfare standards for Bobby CalvesSource: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/bobby-calf-public-consultation.php
Where to from here?• Consistency?• Enforcement?• Improved standards for animal welfare?