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Budget estimates - Lee questions Department of Agriculture about animal welfare codes

Lee Rhiannon 19 Feb 2013

Australian Greens animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon questions representatives of the federal Department of Agriculture about revision of animal welfare codes.

Senate Estimates - Monday, 11 February 2013


Ms Karen Schneider, First Assistant Secretary

Dr Andrew Cupit, Assistant Secretary
Dr Bob Biddle, Assistant Secretary
Mr Simon Smalley, Assistant Secretary, Animal Welfare

Senator RHIANNON:   I want to go to the model codes of practice that are being converted into animal welfare standards and guidelines. I am interested: because there are so many of them, is the same process being  used for all of them, for moving from the codes to the standards and how you engage with people and how you  have the review?

Mr Smalley:  Thus far there has been a process that has particularly focused on the livestock model codes of practice. That has been done through a model that primary industries ministers agreed to, using Animal Health Australia as the service provider. We have not yet got to the stage of reviewing all of those model codes of  practice, but, for instance, there is a different model being used in relation to exhibited animals as they are called-zoos, predominantly. That is being done through the leadership of one of the state agencies and in consultation with industries and welfare groups and is then being brought through a national process.

Senator RHIANNON:  Does that mean you have not commenced the reviews on those other models-like cattle, domestic poultry, farm buffalo and all those others?

Mr Smalley:  Cattle has commenced and is actually at a stage that is very near to public consultation on a draft consultation regulation impact statement. But the other ones that you cited have not yet commenced.

Senator RHIANNON:  So domestic poultry has not commenced yet?

Mr Smalley:  Domestic poultry has not commenced yet but the animal welfare committee, which is part of the primary industries ministerial set of arrangements, has put that as a high priority and of interest to the committee.

We will be consulting with the industry hopefully at our next meeting and looking to consider how that review should be conducted and over what period of time.

Senator RHIANNON:  Is there a similarity with how these are being conducted or do you adapt it for each sector?

Mr Smalley:  As I said, there have been differences for different sectors. Thus far the land transport standards, which was the first one completed, and cattle and sheep, which are the other ones that are nearing completion, have been done through that same model of using Animal Health Australia as the service provider. But then zoos has been done differently and we are yet to start any others.

Senator RHIANNON:  When did this process start? How long has this been going on for?

Mr Smalley:  The process was agreed by ministers in 2006. The first cab off the rank, if you like, was the land transport standards. That process converted six or seven of the previous model codes into a single set of land transport service standards and guidelines.

Senator RHIANNON:  So that has taken seven years and there is still a lot more to be done when you look at the list here. Are you trying to speed this up?

Mr Smalley:  It would be fair to say yes they are trying to do them more quickly and that was one of the key reasons for the animal welfare committee to have increased its seniority when it was reformed under the ministerial council arrangements in 2012.

Senator RHIANNON:   I am hoping you can answer this considering cattle and sheep are nearly finished. What efforts are made to ensure that members of the review panel reflect and represent the entire industry including those who may be looking at addressing animal welfare issues to be consistent with good practice in farming these animals?

Mr Smalley:  The process that has been undertaken has given invitation to all of the stakeholder groups that were of interest, particularly in relation to your citing sheep and cattle. In some instances, animal welfare groups decided not to be members of the writing groups. They have participated to date in the reference groups, which are also a part of sheep and cattle. In addition to what has happened in the past, the animal welfare committee has also decided that it ought to review the way that these codes of practice are converted to national standards and guidelines. That review process is hopefully going to start up during the course of the next few months. So that will look at how the process is done, over what time frame and who is involved so that we can aim to do things more expeditiously.

Senator RHIANNON:  Can you take on notice, when will that review be done?


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