A Kinder lutruwita/Tasmania For Animals

Background

Lutruwita/Tasmania’s Animal Welfare Act 1993 is not strong enough to protect animals from neglect and cruelty. The State still subsidises cruelty in the greyhound and horseracing industries, and facilitates puppy farming, while our wildlife laws allow the slaughter of tens of thousands of native animals each year and the use of 1080 poison.

Animal welfare organisations, whose mission it is to give voice, veterinary care and new homes to the voiceless, are underfunded.  The RSPCA has been nobbled in its inspectorate work by the Liberal Government, and the animal welfare inspectorate in Biosecurity Tasmania has been broadly judged as ineffectual. 

The most recent, damning example of this failure on the part of Biosecurity Tasmania is the scandalous allegations of animal neglect and cruelty surrounding the former VDL Dairy, now trading as Van Dairy in North West Tasmania.

On multiple levels, the State fails to uphold high animal welfare standards for both wild and domesticated animals.

The Greens believe this is out of step with community expectations.

A Damning Assessment

Australia received a ‘D’ in the 2020 Animal Protection Index,[1] down from ‘C’ in 2014.[2] This downgrade included worsening standards of welfare in farming, commercial activities, pets and animals used for draught and recreation. One of the most marked declines was the reduction in Government accountability for animal welfare, which reduced from a ‘B’ to a ‘G’.

In 2018, animal cruelty law expert, Malcolm Caulfield, quit his position on the Tasmanian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Caulfield cited serious concerns over entrenched issues with the Tasmanian Liberal Government’s handling of animal welfare investigations, departmental obstruction of the Committee, and the Government consistently ignoring the advice of the Committee.[3]

The Tasmanian Greens’ move to amend the Act to allow for ‘mental suffering’ as a category of harm was voted down by the Liberal and Labor parties in the last term of the Parliament.

We are fierce, often lone, advocates in Parliament for improved animal welfare standards and stronger laws to protect animals from senseless killing, cruelty and mental suffering.

Strengthening Animal Welfare Standards and Compliance

 

We will reform the Animal Welfare Act 1993 to strengthen standards, monitoring, compliance and penalties.

Animal Welfare Commission

In 2016, the Productivity Commission recommended the establishment of an Australian Animal Welfare Commission.[4] The Commission would be tasked with developing standards for farm animal welfare, public assessment of the enforcement of animal welfare standards, and assessing the live export regulatory system.[5]

The Productivity Commission’s inquiry was focused on farming,[6] so it is unsurprising that the recommendations for an Animal Welfare Commission focused on farming standards.

Of the two examples of Animal Welfare Commissions around the world, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission contrasts the Productivity Commission’s proposal by focusing on wild and companion animals.[7] The Maltese Animal Welfare Commission, on the other hand, has a broad and unrestrained mandate.[8]

Tasmania’s current statutory animal welfare body, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, differs from a Commission in that it is not staffed or resourced, it cannot undertake own-motion independent investigations, and is restrained to report to the Minister.[9] Recommendations or reports are unlikely to be made public without the permission of the Minister.[10]

Commissions, on the other hand, generally are staffed, established with provisions prohibiting the Government from directing them or interfering with their work, powers to compel information for investigations, and the ability to publicly comment on the actions of Government.[11]

An Animal Welfare Commission

 

The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee under the Animal Welfare Act 1993 will be replaced with an independent Animal Welfare Commission, with broad investigatory, advisory, advocacy and educational functions.

Supporting Animal Rehoming

The housing crisis is also impacting on animal welfare. Tenants are increasingly having to give up loved pets, placing more pressure on animal shelters, including the Dogs Homes, Cat Centre and Brightside Farm Sanctuary.[12],[13]

It is clear more political will and more funding is needed to ensure animal welfare organisations are adequately funded to do their vital work.

Animal Welfare Organisation Support

 

We will allocate $1 million over four years to support animal rescue and welfare organisations to meet increasing costs.

RSPCA Funding

Tasmania’s animal welfare inspectorate system is not appropriately designed or resourced. Inspectorate work is split between Biosecurity Tasmania – a critical and over-stretched branch of Government – and the RSPCA, which has been chronically underfunded for this work. In 2019-20 alone, 2,171 calls were made to the RSPCA related to animal cruelty.[14]

The RSPCA also lacks funding for two important programs – the Animal Welfare: Awareness, Responsibility and Education (AWARE) programme and the Safe Beds program.

The AWARE program is a free, school-based program designed to teach students about animal welfare issues. The program has resources for students, teachers and schools, but lacks funding to co-ordinate with schools to integrate it into the curriculum.[15]

The ‘Safe Beds’ program provides emergency boarding for pets in circumstances where families are relocating from domestic violence.[16]

Funding the RSPCA

 

We will fund the RSPCA for 100% of Tasmania’s inspectorate work, reallocating funding from the existing Biosecurity inspectorate, as well as providing an additional $200,000 per year. We will provide an additional $300,000 for the AWARE program and ‘Safe Beds’ program.

Puppy Farming

Tasmania currently has some of Australia’s most lax regulations on the breeding and sale of dogs.[17] The RSPCA has called for stronger regulations for the breeding and sale of puppies in Tasmania.[18]

Puppy farming often keeps dogs in overcrowded and filthy conditions, and can involve inhumane confinement, poor socialisation, and bad health outcomes.[19] The overbreeding of dogs in puppy farms globally results in millions of dogs that cannot be homed being killed each year.[20]

In February, 2020, the Western Australian Premier announced new laws to ban puppy farms and prohibit the selling of puppies from pet shops. The proposal included supports for pet shops to transition to a rehoming model for the sale of dogs.[21]

Banning Puppy Farms

 

We will review dog breeding and sale regulations in order to ban puppy farming and consider any further actions, such as banning of the sale of puppies in pet shops, that will improve animal welfare outcomes.

Greyhound Racing

In 2015, in response to a damning Four Corners expose of rampant cruelty and early deaths of greyhounds, the Tasmanian Greens successfully moved to establish an inquiry in to the industry.  Other States across Australia[22],[23] also[24] initiated inquiries into Greyhound Racing.

The highest profile issue raised in the Four Corners report was live baiting,[25] the practice of training greyhounds by making them chase and kill living animals.[26]

The Joint Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in Tasmania’s Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania (the Inquiry) found no substantiated evidence of live baiting currently occurring in Tasmania.[27] They did, however, find that it would be difficult for such evidence to be obtained in Tasmania.[28] The inquiry also heard testimony from a leading trainer that live baiting was a practice that has occurred historically in Tasmania.[29]

The Inquiry found that the rates of greyhound deaths in the industry were unacceptable, and likely to be higher than reported,[30] track design results in avoidable injuries and deaths,[31] administration of prohibited substances was increasing and testing was decreasing,[32] rehoming initiatives were not adequately funded,[33] dogs may be being exported to countries with poor animal welfare standards,[34] and stewards have limited or unclear powers to seize evidence and compel people to appear before inquiries.[35]

Despite the scrutiny and public attention, Greyhounds Australasia acknowledged, “the industry has done a poor job in understanding the nature and depth of this fundamental problem and has done very little to find a genuine solution”.[36]

The industry body also acknowledged “the culture of the industry is defined by animal deaths being acceptable and necessary and where profits come before welfare”.[37]

The Inquiry handed down 31 recommendations in 2016,[38] progress has been minimal. Of these recommendations one was assessed as needing no action, four were rejected in their entirety, and only eight have been fully completed. The remaining 18 recommendations have either yet to be actioned, yet to be fully completed, or rejected in part.[39]

As of 2018 only six countries – Australia, The United States, New Zealand, Mexico, the UK and Ireland – still had commercial greyhound racing.[40] This was down from eight countries just two years prior.[41]

A Ban on Greyhound Racing

 

Greyhound Racing in Tasmania, and the breeding and sale of dogs for the purposes of racing, will be banned.

We will allocate $2 million over four years to phase out the industry within this term of Parliament

In 2009, the Bartlett Labor Government signed a deed with TasRacing guaranteeing a public subsidy of $27 million per year over twenty years, increasing by CPI minus 1%.[42] A Legislative Council Inquiry produced 35 findings in relation to the sustainability of this funding model, noting TasRacing has no performance obligations in relation to the funding, and has returned a loss every year.[43]

Figure 3.9.1: TasRacing Financials 2011-2020[44]

Year

Grants ($m)

Total Revenue ($m)

Grant Ratio (%)

Prize ($m)

Prizemoney / Grants (%)

Profit/loss ($m)

2020

31.14

47

0.66

27.91

0.90

-3.8

2019

31.38

49.37

0.64

26.79

0.85

-1.78

2018

30.4

47.09

0.65

24.87

0.82

-0.19

2017

30.21

43.99

0.69

22.71

0.75

0.37

2016

30.29

42.79

0.71

21.77

0.72

0.64

2015

30.24

43.16

0.70

24.37

0.81

-1.22

2014

30.17

40.92

0.74

23.17

0.77

-0.08

2013

29.22

39.25

0.74

23.02

0.79

-0.9

2012

28.7

35.46

0.81

23.49

0.82

-10.38

2011

27.51

33.91

0.81

23.35

0.85

-3.62

Total

299.26

422.94

0.71

241.45

0.81

-20.96

Figure 3.9.1 presents ten years of financial data from TasRacing. In that period, $299.26 million has been paid to TasRacing by the Government, forming 71% of their total revenue in this time.

Also during this time, $241.45 million has been paid in “prizemoney and industry funding”, 81% of Government grant funding provided by the taxpayer. During the past ten years, TasRacing has made a cumulative loss of $20.96 million.

Wind-up TasRacing

 

TasRacing, established under the Racing (Tasracing Pty Ltd) Act 2009, will be wound-up, and the deed providing in excess of $30 million per year to the entity will end.

This will facilitate a wind down of the horse racing industry, removing subsidised profit incentives that drives the breeding and early disposal of race horses.

Rodeos

Tasmania has relatively lax regulatory requirements compared to jurisdictions like Victoria and South Australia. In Tasmania no permits are required for rodeos, cattle can be up to half to size of other jurisdictions, and mothers of unweaned young can be used (based on veterinary advice).[45]

Rodeos in Tasmania have been held at Wynyard, Smithton, Carrick, Westbury, Devonport, Gowrie Park, Burnie, Hobart, Melton Mowbray, Deloraine and Ulverstone.[46] Tasmania had nine rodeos in 2019, ten in 2018 and 11 in 2017.[47] These events can include bull riding, roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.[48]

Bull riding involves riding on a bucking bull, and can involve the use of flank straps or spurs. Bulls typically respond with fear, stress and panic, in the same way they respond to being attacked by a predator. Bulls can hurl themselves at solid objects, or charge into the ground, in an attempt to rid themselves of the rider.[49] In 2019 a bull at the Hobart show had to be euthanised after injuring a leg by landing awkwardly after jumping.[50]

Ban Rodeos

 

Rodeos will be banned in Tasmania.

Agriculture

Regulation of animal welfare on farms has regressed this decade. Australia received a ‘E’ for ‘Protecting animals used in farming’ in the 2020 Animal Protection Index,[51] down from ‘C’ in 2014.[52]

The term factory farming originated from the 1964 book ‘Animal Machines’, and referred broadly to modern practices across the supply chain.[53] Contemporary use of the term ‘factory farming’, or sometimes ‘intensive farming’, tends to focus on housing arrangements for animals that offer minimal ability for movement. The use of battery cages for hen farming and sow stalls for pigs are the most notorious examples.[54],[55]

In 2013, the Tasmanian Government enacted a partial prohibition on sow stalls was issued, allowing for confinement for up to five days after each mating, and a total of 10 days in each reproductive cycle.[56]

The Australian Capital Territory is so far the only Australian jurisdiction to ban factory farming practices. The Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013 passed in 2014. The Bill banned sow stalls, battery cages and beak trimming.[57]

Opponents claimed “the ACT has no intensive pig farming or battery farming, and there is no prospect of such industries being established”[58] and even went as far as to say “this legislation has precisely zero impact”.[59]  Despite this, opposition was fierce and aggressive, describing the legislation as “new heights of hubris”[60] and representing an agenda that has been “successfully hijacked by the extreme Greens”.[61]

This fierce opposition to legislation that opponents claim will have zero impact offers some explanation of why Australia has been backsliding on animal welfare protections despite increasing, and significant, public support for stronger animal welfare measures like banning battery hen farming.[62]

Prohibition on Factory Farming Techniques

 

We will legislate for phasing out factory farming practices, including battery hen farming, a complete ban on sow stalls, and beak trimming.

We will allocate $4million over four years to support industry transition to cruelty free practices.

There are many lesser known welfare issues in addition to the high-profile factory farming practices. Figure 3.8.2 outlines some of the welfare issues with which the RPSCA has concerns.

Figure 3.9.2: On-Farm Animal Welfare Issues[63]

Husbandry Procedures

Management

Drought and Heat

Other

Castration Practices

Extension of NILS

euthanasia insurance delays

Cashmere collection

Lack of Pain Relief

Tethering practices

Regular burn reassessment

Transportation standards

Purely cosmetic procedures

Saleyard requirements

Post-bushfire care

 

Handler-benefit procedures

Routine use of antimicrobials

Care during droughts

 

Exemptions from welfare law

Electric shock fencing

Shade and ventilation

 

Flystrike susceptible breeding

Paintball marking

 

 

 

Review of on-Farm Welfare Issues

 

We will task the Animal Welfare Commission, in consultation with agricultural producers, to conduct an independent review of animal welfare practices and recommendations for further reform to animal welfare regulations.

Native Duck Hunting

Every year, tens of thousands of native ducks are shot in lutruwita/Tasmania for 'sport'. [64] Some of these ducks are killed outright. Some are killed after retrieval. Many others are wounded but not found, and die slowly in pain and distress. Endangered 'non-target' birds are inevitably shot and killed over the course of the hunting season. [65]

As well as the grave issues for animal welfare, duck hunting also threatens the survival of wild duck species. According to the Tasmanian Government’s own experts in the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE), duck numbers are in decline around Australia as a result of persistent drought and climate change.

The pressure on mainland duck populations makes protecting them in their seasonal Tasmanian sanctuaries even more critical.

The ACT, Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland have all banned duck hunting for sport.[66] These states recognised animal welfare and environmental protection are more important than a 'sport' enjoyed by a small number of people. It's time lutruwita/Tasmania did the same.

Ban Duck Hunting

Policy 3.9.11

We will ban native duck hunting in Tasmania in line with other Australian jurisdictions, scientific evidence and community expectations.

 

 



[1] World Animal Proection, Australia - Animal Protection Index, 2020.

[2] World Animal Proection, Australia - Animal Protection Index, 2014, access via: web.archive.org.

[3] P Carlyon, Polo pony deaths: Animal welfare expert to quit over delays in Tasmanian investigations, ABC News, 2018.

[4] Productivity Commission, Regulation of Australian Agriculture, Australian Government, 2016, p. 38.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, p. iv.

[7] Scottish Government, Scottish Animal Welfare Commission: terms of reference, 2020.

[8] Government of Malta, Animal Welfare Act 2002, p. 15.

[9] Tasmanian Government, Animal Welfare Act 1993, Part 6 – Animal Welfare Advisory Committee 1993.

[10] Note: The Committee is constrained to report to the Minister under the Animal Welfare Act 1993 and such information is usually exempted from release under s. 35 (internal deliberative) of the Right to Information Act 2009.

[11] Note: see s. 6, 8, 12, and 23 of the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2016, s. 8, 10, 20, and Part 6 of Integrity Commission Act 2009 and s. 7(2) and 14 of the Tasmanian Planning Commission Act 1997 for some examples.

[12] Ogilvie, F, Homeless Tasmanians forced to choose between pet and shelter amid housing crisis, ABC News, October 2019.

[13] Humphries, A, Organisations call for pets to be allowed in rental properties as housing crisis deepens, The Mercury, March 2018.

[14] RSPCA, RSPCA Tasmania’s Inspectors protect by investigating cruelty reports, n.d.

[15] RSPCA, Join our free AWARE program, n.d.

[16] Shelter Tasmania, Emergency Boarding for Pets, n.d.

[17] Oscar’s Law, Legislation in each state, n.d.

[18] RSPCA Tasmania, RSPCA Tasmania will be Lobbying for Better Protections for Dogs now the Cat Management Bill has Passed, 2020.

[19] RSPCA, Puppy farms, n.d.

[20] International Society for Animal Rights, Dog Overpopulation and Puppy Mills, n.d.

[21] Australian Associated Press, Western Australia to outlaw puppy farms, The Examiner, February 2020.

[22] A MacSporran, Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry: Final Report’, 2015.

[23] New South Wales Department of Justice, Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound ​Racing Industry in NS​​W, 2016, accessed via: web.archive.org.

[24] Parliament of Tasmania, Joint Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in Tasmania, 2016.

[25] ABC News, Making a Killing, Four Corners, Feb 2015.

[26] Parliament of Tasmania, Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania: Final Report, Joint Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in Tasmania, 2016, p. iv.

[27] Ibid, p. 30.

[28] Ibid, p. 30.

[29] Ibid, p. 23.

[30] Ibid, pp. 49-50.

[31] Ibid, p. 91.

[32] Ibid, p. 95.

[33] Ibid, p. 112.

[34] Ibid, p. 125.

[35] Ibid, p. 130.

[36] Greyhounds Australasia, Crisis to Recovery Program, 2015, accessed via: web.archive.org.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Parliament of Tasmania, Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania: Final Report, Joint Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in Tasmania, 2016.

[39] Office of Racing Integrity, Response To Joint Select Committee Report Into Greyhound Racing, updated February 2020.

[40] J Anderson, Is greyhound racing rounding the final bend?, Irish Examiner, 2018.

[41] C Hanrahan, Explained: Why NSW is banning greyhound racing, ABC News, 2016.

[42] Parliament of Tasmania, Inquiry into the Performance of TasRacing, Legislative Council Government Administrative Committee A, 2012, p. 12.

[43] Ibid, pp. 15-19.

[44] TasRacing, Annual Reports, TasRacing Corporate, 2020.

[45] RSPCA, What laws protect animals in rodeos?, 2020.

[46] Australian Professional Rodeo Association, Events Calendar, 2021.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Waratah Wynyard Council, Wynyard Rodeo, 2020.

[49] RSPCA, What are the animal welfare issues with rodeos?, 2020.

[50] R Lehman and K Uibu, Rodeo bull euthanased at the Royal Hobart Show after breaking hind leg, ABC News, 2019.

[51] World Animal Proection, Australia - Animal Protection Index, 2020.

[52] World Animal Proection, Australia - Animal Protection Index, 2014, access via: web.archive.org.

[53] R Carson, M Dawkins and R Harrison, The New Factory Farming – A Pictorial Summary in Animal Machines, United Kingdom, CABI, 2013, pp. 114-115.

[54] RSPCA, Why can’t the RSPCA prosecute farmers for keeping animals in intensive systems?, 2020.

[55] Animals Australia, What is factory farming?, 2021.

[56] Tasmanian Government, Animal Welfare (Pigs) Regulations 2013, s. 25A, 2013.

[57] ACT Government, Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013, 2014.

[58] Legislative Assembly for the ACT, 2014 Week 1 Hansard, 25 February 2014.

[59] Australian Farm Institute, ACT Factory farming ban scales new heights of hubris and hypocrisy, 2014.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Legislative Assembly for the ACT, 2014 Week 1 Hansard, 25 February 2014.

[62] RSPCA, Breakthrough research finds 84% of Australians want to end the battery cage, 2017.

[63] RSPCA, General Farming Practices, n.d.

[64] RSPCA, Duck Hunting Season 2021, RSPCA Tasmania Issues Paper, 2021.

[65] Ibid.

[66] RSPCA, What happens during duck and quail shooting and where does this occur?, 2019.