WA’s Agriculture Minister today referred her own contentious animal welfare legislation to a Parliamentary Committee following pressure from The Nationals WA, who say it didn’t meet industry or community expectations.
Agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa, who led the charge for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill 2017 to be put under the microscope, said the legislation required significant alterations before it would be supported by The Nationals WA.
He said the Minister’s referral was an admission she had rushed legislation into Parliament for political reasons to meet her own animal welfare agenda.
“We’ve consulted widely with industry groups and animal welfare advocates, including the RSPCA,” he said.
“Consensus was that Labor’s failure to properly consult prior to introducing legislation was unsatisfactory and creates uncertainty. Our parliamentary colleagues feel the same way and have supported our call to send the Bill to Committee.”
Mr de Grussa said while industry was broadly supportive of adopting National Standards and Guidelines for animal welfare, several areas of concern around a new class of inspector, powers of entry to property and stock transportation had been raised with him.
National Standards and Guidelines are applied to matters relating to the health, safety and welfare of animals but are regulated by individual States.
Mr de Grussa said The Nationals were in favour of joining the national framework as long as WA’s legislation was clarified.
“A major point of uncertainty is the ability for the Minister of the day to decide what defences to charges of cruelty would be acceptable in court, without the scrutiny of Parliament,” he said.
“Known as a Henry VIII clause, it provides no defined, fair or consistent approach to compliance and prosecution when it comes to enforcing the legislation.
“This inquiry will give industry and animal welfare groups the ability to put their cases and concerns about the legislation forward for Parliament’s consideration before progressing the Bill.”
The Standing Committee on Legislation has three months to inquire into and report on the legislation.