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22 Years – Australia’s animal welfare laws, industry/government alliances, attitudes and government processes. Glenys Oogjes Executive Director. Animal Law Workshop – 24 September 2005. Some significant dates/events. 1976 Animal Liberation – the book- by Peter Singer

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22 Years – Australia’s animal welfare laws, industry/government alliances, attitudes and government processes.

Glenys Oogjes

Executive Director

Animal Law Workshop – 24 September 2005

some significant dates events
Some significant dates/events
  • 1976 Animal Liberation – the book- by Peter Singer
  • 1978/79 Animal Liberation – the groups, started around Australia focusing on ‘factory farming’
  • 1980 AFAS (Australian Federation of Animal Societies) formed with 24 founding societies (spurred by Minister Nixon saying an inquiry into intensive farming would be launched if only he could deal with just a single policy entity)
  • November 16 1983 – Senate motion by Don Chipp, to establish a Select Committee on Animal Welfare
a senate select inquiry into animal welfare 1983 1991
A Senate Select Inquiry into Animal Welfare, 1983 - 1991
  • Terms of Ref. to inquire into and report upon:

‘The question of animal welfare in Australia, with particular reference to:

  • interstate and overseas commerce in animals;
  • wildlife protection and harvesting;
  • animal experimentation;
  • codes of practice of animal husbandry for all species; and
  • the use of animals in sport.’
a senate select inquiry into animal welfare 1983 19914
A Senate Select Inquiry into Animal Welfare, 1983 - 1991
  • Aspects of Animal Welfare in the Racing Industry

Tabled August 1991

  • Equine Welfare In Competitive Events Other Than Racing

Tabled August 1991

  • Transport of livestock within Australia

Tabled August 1991

  • Culling of large feral animals in the Northern Territory

Tabled June 1991

  • Intensive livestock production

Tabled June 1990

  • The racing industry - Interim Report

Tabled June 1990

  • Sheep Husbandry

Tabled October 1989

  • Animal Experimentation

Tabled 1989

  • Kangaroos

Tabled 1988

  • Dolphins and whales in captivity

Tabled 1985

  • The export of live sheep from Australia

Tabled 1985

sscaw recommendations
SSCAW - recommendations

Live export (1985)

  • ‘ The Committee came to the conclusion that if a decision was to be made on the future of the trade purely on animal welfare grounds, there is enough evidence to stop the trade. The trade is, in many respects, inimical to good animal welfare, and it is not in the interests of the animal to be transported to the Middle East for slaughter.
  • ‘The implementation of reforms will help to reduce but not eliminate stress, suffering and risk during transportation of sheep to the Middle East.
  • ‘Therefore a long term solution must be sought. The substitution of the sheep meat trade for the live export trade offers such a solution.’

‘Export of live sheep from Australia’ Report of the SSCAW 1985

sscaw recommendations6
SSCAW - recommendations

Intensive pig farming (1990)

  • ‘ It is this Committee’s view that an intensive system is proper if the health of the animals is not affected, if their behaviour is not disturbed, and if their adaptability is not overcharged’.
  • ‘The Committee has considered the dry sow housing question and noting the advantages of stalls and tethers (protection from bullying, close monitoring and control of food intake), believes both to be undesirable means of restraint.
  • ‘future trends in housing of the dry sow should be away from individually-confined stall systems..’.
  • ‘sow size has increased over the years’ and so recommended that attention should be given to sow stalls and farrowing crates to ensure they ‘do not cause suffering due to cramping’, and that the Pig Code should be revised so that ‘stalls and crates reflect the body dimensions of large sows’.

‘Intensive Livestock Production‘ Report of SSCAW 1990

and the outcome of a decade of awakening many suggested code changes
And the outcome of a decade of awakening? Many suggested Code changes…..
  • New legislation, Codes, exemptions…

Legislation was reviewed in all States from 1985 onwards. All looked to ways to ‘exempt’ intensive farming and other controversial practices from the cruelty provisions of the Acts. The Codes provided the means.

  • E.g. 1992 review started to Qld 1925 Act – Drafting instruction stated:

‘Obviously, it will be quite some time before Codes can be developed and introduced under the legislation.

A way must be found to ensure that accepted practices under current legislation do not become illegal in the interim.

A practical way of dealing with this problem could be to make a Regulation stating that where a Code of Practice has not been incorporated under this new legislation, acknowledged practices will remain legal’.

[From Corish J.A. of NSW Agriculture – Ministerial Review of POCTA, Vol 2 ‘Comparative Study of Australasian Legislation’, Feb. 1993]

codes of practice how they eventuated
Codes of Practice – how they eventuated

[After the development of the poultry Code] Other early Codes were developed as national guidelines by the Commonwealth Bureau of Animal Health after the Australian Agricultural Council (AAC) in 1980 considered the mounting challenges by animal welfare interests to accepted methods of Australian livestock management and animal experimentation. In particular, the Council considered implications for the intensive animal industries and live animal exports with a focus on the conditions of transport of livestock over long distances, aspects of the slaughter of stock, intensive farming practices in the pig and poultry industries and the control of feral animals.

[Review of the Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals,

Neumann, February 2005 – Unpublished, available from AA].

When documenting the ‘agricultural industry view’ of Codes, Neumann states –

‘…there is a general concern that involvement of the industries in Code development was based on documenting existing management practices and that compliance would be voluntary’.

N.B. Model Codes are available from:

State adopted Codes may vary slightly from the nationally-determined ‘Model Codes’.


Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals


Road Transport of Livestock – 1983 (now species/specific Codes)

Rail Transport of Livestock – 1983

Sea Transport of Livestock – 1987Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock 2005

Air Transport of Livestock – 1986

Animals at Saleyards - 1991

Cattle – 1992 2nd Edition 2004

Domestic Poultry - 1983 2nd Edition 1992, 3rd 1995, 4th 2002

Farmed Buffalo -1995

Farmed Ostriches - 2003

Feral Livestock Animals – 1991 Under review

Husbandry of Captive Bred Emus – 1999 Under review (changes to toe cutting!)

Land Transport of Cattle - 1999

Land Transport of Horses - 1997

Land Transport of Pigs - 1997

Land Transport of Poultry – 1998 Under review

Livestock at Slaughtering Establishments - 2001

The Pig – 1983 2nd Edition 1998, Under review again

The Intensive Farming of Rabbits - 1991

The Camel – 1997 Under review

The Farming of Deer - 1991

The Goat - 1991

The Sheep – 1991 New Mulesing Appendix

codes document practices to ensure they cannot be prosecuted
Codes document practices to ensure they cannot be prosecuted.


Compliance with Codes is effectively an exemption in all jurisdictions – but formalized defence clauses occur in

  • NT – Section 79
  • Victoria – Section 6 (1)
  • Queensland – Section 40
  • Western Australia – Sect 25
  • SA – Sect 43 (and SA alone makes compliance a requirement)

The other States/ACT each ‘recognise’ Codes (gazetted) and thus effectively enable them to be used as an indicator to a magistrate of ‘acceptable’ husbandry standards (NSW, Tas, ACT)

what existing codes allow
What existing Codes allow…
  • Castration of ‘farm animals’ without anaesthetic
  • Cutting the toes off emu chicks (de-clawing)
  • Cutting or grinding the teeth of piglets
  • De-horning of adult cattle
  • Hot iron branding of cattle
  • De-beaking of chickens with a hot iron/wire
  • Transporting cattle can be for up to 48 hours, and up to 30 hours for sheep
  • Giving hens less than the equivalent of an A4 page/space, no perch, no nest
  • Allowing pregnant sows just a cement/metal stall, where they cannot even turn around
  • Allowing sows to give birth and nurse piglets in farrowing crates for another 4 weeks
  • Mulesing sheep (cutting the skin from their behind, with no analgesia)
  • Flank spaying of adult cattle
  • Tail docking of adult (dairy) cattle, lambs, piglets (without pain relief)
  • Raising of meat chickens at about 20 birds per square metre
other codes
Other Codes?
  • Research Code (Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes) – regulatory in all jurisdictions
  • State/Territory Codes – other than livestock (in films, shelters, pet shops etc)
  • Rodeos Guidelines (NCCAW)
  • Circus Guidelines (NCCAW)
review and updating of codes very slowly
Review and updating of Codes – very slowly…

Timetable for reviews - Lack of interest?

The very first Codes had no indication in them that they were to be reviewed in any particular time frame:

  • e.g. 1983 Pig Code states ‘The Model Code may be revised to take account of advances in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, technological changes in animal husbandry and their relationships to the welfare of animals’.
  • Senate inquiry then recommended that the Codes be reviewed every five years ‘-

‘to take account of technological changes, advances in understanding of physiology and behavior of animal to reflect prevailing community attitudes.’

Intensive Livestock Farming SSCAW 1989.

  • The 1999 Land Transport of Cattle Code suggests it will be reviewed in 5 years,
  • the 2001 Poultry Code says it will be reviewed in 2010,
  • whilst the 2nd edition of the Cattle Code (2004) suggests it too will be reviewed in 2010.

Neither the 10 year nor the 5 year review timetable has ever worked.

review and updating of codes very slowly14
Review and updating of Codes – very slowly…

Timetable for reviews –

  • few resources – AWWG (Animal Welfare Working Group) processes haphazard/variable
  • very little interest from industries

[N.B. the Neumann Report came from a consultancy

initiated by AWWG to consider these problems]

This lack of funding clearly shows a lack of genuine interest and backing by Governments.

A willingness to accept the status quo – until there is a need to react!

  • Govt provides animal users with exemptions that allow acts that cause suffering - yet Govt refuses to force them to the table to reconsider positions.
  • Through non–cooperation, industry can delay indefinitely review of codes.

And - Even if there were welfare implications/improvements detailed in codes (and there have not been) - codes are not enforceable.

code development
Code Development
  • Bureau of Animal Health in 1980s
  • Animal Welfare Working Group (AWWG) now
  • Until 2000 – community groups (RSPCA/AA) merely consulted
  • Now on ‘Writing Groups’
code review examples
Code review examples..

Pig Code review ‘Writing Group’ 2004/05 – membership

  • Vic Dept of PI – Chair (AWWG member)
  • SA Dept of PI and Resources (AWWG member)
  • NSW Agriculture (AWWG member)
  • Agriculture WA (AWWG member)
  • Prof John Barnett – AWSC
  • DPI Vic Pig Specialist Vet
  • Manager Welfare – Australian Pork Ltd (APL)
  • Prime Consulting International (appointed by APL)
  • General Manager APL
  • Research Scientists from QAF – Large piggery
  • Quality Control Officer – Coles Myer Ltd
  • Animals Australia
  • RSPCA Australia
code review examples19
Code review examples..
  • Pig Code review
code review examples20
Code review examples..
  • Pig Code review - delayed first (from 2003) due to drought and research underway….
  • That research?? By Dr John Barnett of Animal Welfare Science Centre

Sow stall dimensions:

0.6 m wide better than 0.75 m wide stalls

based on lower total and free cortisol concentrations

reduced responsiveness to ACTH

increased immunoresponsiveness

2.2 m long stalls associated with lower stress effects

based on lower total and free cortisol concentrations

reduced responsiveness to ACTH

increased immunoresponsiveness

see full ppt re this:

code review examples21
Code review examples
  • Pig Code review (2004/5) – Writing group, Positions on sow stalls –

A] Industry proposes that they could economically afford to introduce the capital and management changes to allow for a maximum period of confinement of 10 weeks in each gestation, within a 15 year phase in period .

B] AWWG, Research and AVA - In terms of management requirements (pregnancy testing, mating management etc..) there should be a maximum period of confinement of 6 weeks followed by group housing until placed in farrowing crates. A transition period of 5-10 years was discussed to achieve this.

C] Animal welfare organisations

  • RSPCA recommend an immediate ban on the building of new stalls (from introduction of the code), one year after the code is introduced a limit on use of stalls to the first 5-6 weeks of gestation, and in 5-7 years after code introduction a ban on the use of sow stalls.
  • Animals Australia. A total and immediate ban on use of dry sow stalls and current farrowing crate on welfare grounds.

Current situation – considered by AWWG, and new draft and RIS being

drafted for public consultation – likely to reflect position B above.

code review examples22
Code review examples..

Poultry Code review –

  • In 2000/2001 a similar Writing Group for the poultry Code.
  • Again industry interests – both egg industry (x2) and meat chicken industry (x 2) held sway.

In this case they would not accept the clear science on a number of issues – e.g.

Scientific papers say that raising hens on litter and with perches leads to better adjusted hens for barn and free range production (less pecking, fewer floor eggs/better nesting).

AA and RSPCA Aust. wanted this to be a recommendation of the Code.

The industry insisted that overseas scientific research was not relevant - and they got their way!

code review examples23
Code review examples..
  • Mulesing appendix to Sheep Code (2004/5 after announcement of mulesing ban by 2010)

….even if there is an important agreement at the Writing Group Stage – it can be varied at any stage in the bureaucratic process –





PIMC (Primary Industries Ministerial Council – see


State Legislation/regulation

Final Writing Group (March 2005):

‘Mulesing must only be done by operators accredited under the National Mulesing Accreditation Program from 31st December 2006’.

But the current intention after AWWG/PISC (not written publicly yet)

  • All Mulesing contractors (approx 1000 – 1300) will have to be trained and accredited by 31/12/06,

but farmers/producers(approx 11,000 -17,000) will only have to be accredited by 31/12/08.

  • The full ban on mulesing is to be in place by 1/1/2010.
current attempts to exempt further cruel practices
Current attempts to exempt further cruel practices -

E.g. Emu code re de-clawing (de-toeing)– not mentioned in the existing Code

New proposed inclusion…

  • 7.3 Declawing

7.3.1 Emus must be kept in facilities where natural aggression is effectively

managed. If emus are kept in extensive conditions it may be necessary for emus

to be declawed. If this procedure is deemed necessary to reduce aggression and

stereotype behaviors which can contribute to social stress and skin damage, it

should be carried out by a skilled operator at 3-5 days of age. Declawing must

not be carried out on chicks over 5 days old.

7.3.2 Declawing involves the removal of the distal or last phalengeal (bony part of

the toe) joint using sharp clean sheep mulesing shears, beak trimming machine or

other suitable device, angled to retain the bottom part of the last phalanx within

the foot pad. Declawing by either of these methods will minimise the risk of both

acute and chronic pain resulting from tissue and nerve damage.

RIS discussion -

  • Declawing emu chicks is an issue arousing some controversy. The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation funded a study by Flinders University and the South Australian Research & Development Institute into the value of declawing farmed emus. The study concluded that declawing does not harm the well-being of the emus and that behavioural data suggests that declawing can reduce aggression. This reduction of aggression has a positive effect on social structure and also leads to less damage of emu skin which is one of the industry’s valuable products. Many farms already use this practice and those that don’t need to, do not use it.
compliance with cruel codes
Compliance with (cruel) Codes?

Examples of non-compliance

  • The NSW Contractors Association has apparently surveyed sheep at saleyards and noted that between 60-80% of sheep have been incorrectly mulesed (radical mules or crooked tails through unskilled jobs).
  • Tail docking of whole herds of dairy cows is still common in some areas (usually the wetter areas) including in Victoria (Source: survey by Barnett of Victorian Institute of Animals Science, DPI)
  • Farmers have commented that teeth grinding of sheep continues (e.g. to AWAC), and some have said it is widespread
  • Anecdotal reports of pigs being transported for between 60-70 hours (across the Nullabor) when 48 hours is the maximum (Source: government officer comments at the Victorian AWAC and at NCCAW).
  • Recent comprehensive documentation (by Animals Angels) of sheep transport between WA feedlots and live export ships, showing injured and downed animals, and over loaded trucks arriving regularly at the wharf (in contravention of the WA transport Code and the new Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock).
  • Provisional results from the APL producer survey indicate that 44% of dry sow stalls currently in use in Australia are narrower than the recommended width and 37% are shorter than the recommended length.
other exemptions
Other Exemptions

Legislative Exemptions


  • 9 Confinedanimals to be exercised
  • (1) A person in charge of an animal which is confined shall not fail to provide the animal with adequate exercise.
  • (1A) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person in charge of an animal if the animal is:

(a) a stock animal other than a horse, or

(b) an animal of a species which is usually kept in captivity by means of a cage.

And – Sect 24 – where surgical mutilations are listed and thus exempted.


Exemptions for things done under the Catchment and Land Protection Act, Meat Industry Act, Wildlife Act, recreational fishing done in accord with the Fisheries Act.


  • Defence - (a) the animal is stock of a kind that is ordinarily left to roam at large on a pastoral property and to fend for itself;


  • Regulations in Tasmania to allow battery farms after a win in Tassie in 1993 by Pam Clarke
advisory structures
Advisory Structures
  • Animal Welfare Advisory Committees (AWACs)
  • Purpose - to advise the Minister on current issues and upgrades in regards to COPs and legislation.
  • Members of AWACs

Usually 2 animal welfare representatives, companion animal person, Vet rep, 2 FF reps, animals in research – environment department plus primary industries.

How often to they meet?…Should meet at least quarterly

  • How effective are they?

Totally dependent upon the Minister and political issues.

E.g. NSW AWAC recommended a ban on duckshooting and got it in 1995.

Queensland in one of its first acts (only commenced last year) recommended duckshooting be banned and got it last month.

Victoria – the largest duckshooting State – its AWAC has recommended a ban on duckshooting in each of 1993, 1995, 2000, and 2003 – but no Minister has decided to ban it.

  • Again, the existence of AWAC’s provide the perception that the issue of animal welfare is being addressed seriously by governments.
advisory structures cont
Advisory Structures (cont)
  • National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare – advises the federal Minister for Agriculture, currently Minister McGauran.
  • Examples of advice taken….

Glue traps, Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, Animal Care Statements into slaughterhouses, National guidelines – circuses, rodeos, national statistics for research harmonisation, fishing guidelines etc

blocks in place once advances look likely
Blocks in place once advances look likely…
  • ACT battery hen legislation –

phase out and labelling, problem with Competition Principles Agreement…

Without the agreement of all States they could not proceed with the will of the people.

(background – see AA website re history: )

And the Productivity Commission’s report:

  • WTO requirements
  • Essential to the WTO’s interpretation of fair trade is that a country cannot effectively refuse to import a product that was manufactured in a way that was detrimental or in any way harmful to animals, people or the environment.
  • In practice, if a nation chooses not to import a product because of an unacceptable production method, that country must either ban the import of the product entirely or accept every import of the product, regardless of production method.
  • In practice, this means that an egg produced by a hen kept in a battery cage is seen as no different from an egg produced by a hen kept in free range conditions.
  • local producers then tend to resist moves to improve animal welfare legislation – concerned their increased costs will make them uncompetititive.
government industry alliances
Government – Industry alliances
  • Agriculture ministers -Ministers’ conflict of interest.

Four of the 8 State and Territory Ministers are Agriculture ministers, plus the federal Minister McGauran. In a general sense their ‘stakeholders’ or ‘clients’ are the agricultural industries, and the promotion of their product.

  • Live export support – Hassall vs Heilbron economic reports

The government (and industry) continues to quote from an economic report by Hassall Pty Ltd.. At the time the Chairman of LiveCorp Peter Frawley was on the board of Hassall Pty Ltd. The Hassall report says 9,000 Australian jobs dependent upon live export.

[Hassall report commissioned by Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd for Livecorp, completed July 2000]

  • But – Heilbron says - if the sheep and cattle currently (1999/2000) exported live were instead processed in Australia, a further approximately $1.5 billion would be added to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), around $250 million more in household income and around 10,500 full time jobs would be created.

[S G Heilbron report ‘Impact of the Live Animal Export Sector on the Australian Meat Processing Industry’ commissioned by ‘Australian Meat Processor Corporation Limited’ – April 2000 ]

[Both reports available from AA]

government industry alliances31
Government – Industry alliances
  • McGauran Quote re PETA –

The Federal Government says it will not support the agreement between Australian Woolgrowers Association and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for an end to mulesing.PETA has promised to end its call for a boycott of Australian wool if the industry supports the agreement.But the Federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran, says the Australian industry should stop negotiating with the group and concentrate on reassuring its customers. "PETA should not be elevated to this level of importance, where they seem to have some form of veto over the marketing legitimacy of Australian grown wool," Mr McGauran said. "PETA is irrational, it is implacably opposed to the Australian wool industry and consequently they can't be dealt with."

ABC news report 25/8/05

the challenge ahead
The challenge ahead
  • A huge barrier to change has been, and is, the industry-Government alliance.
  • Exemptions and cruel practices allowed by existence and content of codes – and must be challenged.
  • The opportunity is now in all our hands to capitalise on the surge in community concern and interest (and consumer power).