Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson
Labor and the Liberal parties today refused to acknowledge the importance of amending the Animal Welfare Act 1993 to recognise animals experience mental distress and suffering, voting down a Greens' Motion to amend the Act to improve animal welfare outcomes.
Including mental suffering and distress as a form of animal cruelty in the State's animal welfare laws was a recommendation of the 2013 review of the Act. The government's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) recommended distress and mental suffering be included in amendments to the Act.
Nobody who has ever had the care of an animal can deny they can experience feelings, including mental suffering. It's a shame our colleagues couldn't admit that today.
It's disappointing Mr Rockliff couldn't commit to amending the Animal Welfare Act to include mental suffering and distress as a form of animal cruelty, but we're pleased he has committed to bringing in further amendments to the Act in this term of Parliament.
We encourage Minister Rockliff task AWAC and his own Department do the necessary work to define mental suffering, and bring this amendment to the House with the next tranche of improvements to the Animal Welfare Act. It's critical this is included in any modern welfare laws.
Community expectations demand a more modern and compassionate oversight of animal welfare. It's time governments reflected that through strengthening laws that respect and protect our animal companions.