9 reasons why the Minister for Agriculture shouldn't be the Minister for Animal Welfare.

You may not know that Australia's Federal and State Ministers responsible for 'animal welfare' are also in charge of protecting our cruellest animal industries — from factory farming to live export.
Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 22 June 2015

Here are 9 reasons why putting animals in the hands of Agriculture ministers is like putting healthcare in the hands of tobacco companies:

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Despite the international scientific community being united in their conclusion that battery cages are cruel and cause the intelligent and social animals confined within them extreme suffering. Australia’s Agriculture Ministers have consistently failed to outlaw them.

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Mother pigs in Australia can legally be confined in small metal cages like this for weeks on end … a cruel practice given the tick of approval by Agriculture Ministers who consistently prioritise ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ ahead of the welfare of individual animals.

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Dozens of investigations have not only exposed the horrific abuse of Australian animals on ships and overseas but the ongoing willingness of live export companies to break the law. Totally conflicted in their role as facilitator of trade and industry watchdog, the Department of Agriculture has failed to prosecute even one company. And the abuse of animals continues.

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A covert image from Animals Australia's investigation of a live piglet hanging at a greyhound racing track

Some of the strongest supporters of ag-gag laws, which serve to punish investigators rather than animal abusers, have been agriculture ministers. In fact when horrific live animal baiting in the greyhound racing industry was exposed, the response from the Agriculture Minister at the time was to condemn the investigators for documenting the evidence, rather than the perpetrators of the cruelty. While the former NSW Ag Minister described animal cruelty investigators as ‘akin to terrorists’.

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Lambs are routinely mulesed without anaesthetic or follow-up, ongoing treatment for pain relief.

Every day, farmed animals across Australia are subjected to painful surgical procedures — from beak cutting and dehorning to castration and tail docking to mulesing and hot iron branding — and they aren’t provided with any anaesthetic to help them cope with the pain. If you did this to a dog or cat you would be charged with cruelty.

While the Victorian government has made it mandatory to provide pain relief to sheep subjected to mulesing, state Ag Ministers have been a stumbling block to broader reform. So, for most farmed animals undergoing most invasive surgical procedures, there is no legal requirement to administer pain relief. 

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Shattered bills, broken bones, fractured wings … 1 in 4 ducks shot during duck shooting season are wounded and die a slow and painful death. Yet duck shooting remains legal in multiple states, with Agriculture Ministers bowing to pressure from the shooting lobby to sanction season after season of the killing of native waterbirds.

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Calf-roping is the cruellest of all rodeo events — terrified animals are chased, lassoed and wrestled to the ground, all in the name of ‘entertainment’. Calves can suffer broken legs, broken necks, ruptured discs and internal bleeding. These young animals with soft bones and still developing bodies should never be subjected to such harsh treatment. Yet calf-roping is still legal in most states, with Ag Ministers resisting community calls for a ban.

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There’s a new kind of factory farming that’s taken hold in Australia. Its victim — the loyal, unconditionally loving companion animals we call man’s best friend. Puppy factories have been allowed to flourish on the watch of state Agriculture Ministers, with breeding dogs considered just another ‘production animal’.

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‘Pig dogging’ is arguably the cruellest and most brutal form of hunting still permitted in Australia today. Packs of dogs are used to hunt, chase and maul terrified pigs, all in the name of ‘sport’ and ‘conservation’ (despite no evidence whatsoever that there is any environmental benefit to recreational pig hunting). Despite fierce community opposition, the rural hunting lobby has enjoyed unequivocal support from state Ag Ministers.

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