Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson
The welfare of hens was well and truly at the bottom of the list when egg labelling laws were debated at COAG. Minister Brooks boasted loudly about consumer knowledge this morning, but what was missing entirely from his self-congratulatory comments was anything addressing animal welfare.
Respected animal welfare and consumer protection bodies have serious concerns about the egg labelling laws Minister Brooks was crowing about in Parliament today. That's very worrying and we can't be expected to ignore those pleas.
The very reason egg labelling was raised at COAG was because of market pressure for ethically sourced produce. To completely ignore animal welfare concerns in that discussion is shameful.
Animal welfare groups recommended 85% less hens per hectare, so they would have some freedom in "free range conditions". 10,000 hens held per hectare, is still a great concern when it comes to animal welfare standards.
While consumers will be able to read about hen stocking density on packaging, many people will buy their eggs simply based on the "free range" tag. This is a fact that is not lost on industry, nor the Liberals.
After reversing the procurement order that saw only free-range eggs being used by schools, hospitals and government departments as soon as they got into office, the Liberals' happy dismissal of animal welfare issues continues.
Ministers Brooks and Rockliff hang their heads in shame for letting animal welfare issues go by the wayside once again, instead of patting themselves on the back for defending industry.