It comes as a shock to many Australians to learn that our laws allow treatment of farmed animals that has been banned for decades in the United Kingdom.
The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (Aus-UK FTA) has thrown a spotlight on these failings. Discover how cows, sheep, pigs and hens in Australia suffer some of the worst cruelties simply because they were born here – and how you can help.
Many of us in Australia grew up reassuring ourselves that – surely – the farmed animals who end up as plastic-wrapped meat on supermarket chiller shelves were at least not treated cruelly during their lives.
Sadly, the reality is that Australian farmed animals are largely excluded from the protection of cruelty laws that apply to companion animals like dogs or cats. This legalises treatment like being kept in tiny cages or having body parts cut off without pain relief, that would otherwise be prosecutable offences.
Crucially, some of the routine and legalised cruelty that Australian farmed animals are subjected to means that our laws are also falling behind other countries, like the UK. Animal advocates have raised this problem in relation to the negotiations for the Aus-UK FTA, which lays out rules for trade between the two countries.
Of course, farmed animals in the UK still endure cruelties (more on that later), but Australia is failing to meet even the most basic animal protection standards for millions of animals. And freely allowing imports to the UK of Australian meat or other animal products that don’t meet UK standards undermines the farmed animal welfare laws that the UK does have.