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

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 22 June 2015

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. Conflict much?

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

They call battery hen cages HUMANE.

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.

They also call sow stalls and gestation crates HUMANE.

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

They support LIVE EXPORT ... at any cost.

Dozens of investigations have not only exposed the horrific abuse of Australian animals 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.

Their ag-gag laws would keep cruelty HIDDEN.

One of the strong supporters of ag-gag laws, which serve to punish investigators rather than animal abusers, has been Federal Ag Minister Barnaby Joyce — in fact his response to horrific live animal baiting in the greyhound racing industry was to condemn the investigators for documenting the evidence in the first place. While the former NSW Ag Minister described animal cruelty investigators as ‘akin to terrorists’.

They don't think surgery HURTS.

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. But ‘thanks’ to our Ag Ministers, who have been a consistent stumbling block to reform, there is still no legal requirement to administer pain relief to farmed animals undergoing invasive surgical procedures.

They call killing ducks for fun SPORT.

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 in Victoria, where duck shooting is still legal, successive Agriculture Ministers have bowed to pressure from hunters and ‘sporting’ shooters in refusing to support an end to the massacre of native waterbirds.

They call calf roping a SPORT too.

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.

They call puppy factories BUSINESSES.

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’.

They call pig dogging CONSERVATION.

‘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.

Agriculture Ministers have a job to do and that’s fair enough; top of the list is to promote production and maximise financial returns to farmers. The problem is that their primary stakeholders are often the very industries responsible for the cruel and outdated practices inflicted on animals. This major conflict of interest means the welfare of animals will always come a distant second in their decision-making.

There’s something you can do about it.

There is hope! And it comes in the form of an Independent Office of Animal Welfare (IOAW). That’s not something we just made up, either. It’s a policy being championed by the Australian Greens and endorsed in Federal Labor’s policy platform. If implemented, an IOAW would be game-changing and finally give animals of all species the representation independent of agriculture that they so desperately need.

The only problem is — it’s not a done deal, yet. Public support can help make it so.

Sign the petition calling for an IOAW today!