The Nationals WA are calling for animal welfare legislation introduced by the State Government to be investigated by a parliamentary committee.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill 2017 seeks to bring WA into line with other states through adoption of the Australian Animal Welfare (National) Standards Guidelines (NSG).
Agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said while The Nationals joined industry in being broadly supportive of implementing NSG in WA, several areas of concern had been raised by stakeholders during consultation.
“We have a different set of circumstances in WA that need to be thoroughly looked at in order for this legislation to be properly debated by Parliament,” he said.
“The most reasonable way to provide a good outcome in terms of animal welfare and for industry is through a parliamentary inquiry, allowing stakeholders and advocacy groups the opportunity to put their cases forward as to how legislation would best meet expectations.”
Mr de Grussa said the Bill, introduced by Agriculture Minister MacTiernan last October, appeared to have been rushed to meet the Minister’s personal animal welfare agenda.
“We have flagged a number of concerns including the appointment of a new class of welfare inspectors with unprecedented authority, and the implications this may have on biosecurity,” he said.
“The new legislation allows no exceptions to many current industry-accepted animal handling practices, potentially opening up primary producers to unfair prosecution.
“We are also very conscious of a proposed clause that essentially allows the Minister of the day to decide what defences to charges of cruelty would be acceptable in court, without requiring the scrutiny of parliament
National Standards and Guidelines are applied to matters relating to the health, safety and welfare of animals but are regulated by individual States.
These particular amendments to the Animal Welfare Act 2002 relate to the handling and land transport of livestock.
Mr de Grussa said despite Labor pledging to work with industry to improve animal welfare standards, they had failed to take the perspectives of industry into account.
“This will have a legislative impact on thousands of livestock, agricultural and transport industry participants in Western Australia,” he said.
“Proper consultation with industry would have allowed more considered legislation to be introduced and potentially avoided the need for an inquiry.
“The Minister and her Labor Government are quickly cementing their reputation of being Perth-first in their approach to policy and forgetting the important our livestock industry makes to the State economy.”