AJP’s claimed victories from animal activism inquiry may be overstated

The Animal Justice Party’s Victorian upper house member of parliament, Andy Meddick, has claimed the party has “won” four key concessions from the state government stemming from parliament’s 2019 animal activism inquiry. [1] [2] He had also referred to the claimed outcomes in an earlier media release. [3]

Although the government now supports the creation of an Australian Commission for Animal Welfare (which Meddick refers to as “a Federal Independent Office of Animal Protection”), the validity of the other three points the MP recently highlighted is questionable. [4]

A commitment to publicise standard farming practices?

All the government has done is support the parliamentary committee’s recommendation “that Agriculture Victoria display online information about animal agriculture standard practices and related legislation and regulations”. How extensive will that information be and on which (possibly obscure) web page?

No one should count on meaningful action arising from the government’s expressed support, particularly when the minister for agriculture has stated that the government is “standing with farmers” and that “the public deserve to know just how hard farmers and agricultural businesses work to keep their animals safe and well looked after.” [5]

She and others may be influenced by the self-described “active, powerful lobby group”, the Victorian Farmers Federation, whose office is located at the top end of Collins Street in Melbourne, just a two-minute walk from the premier’s office and five-minutes from Parliament House.

Besides, the information in question is already available online, albeit obscured by the government’s lie of many years regarding the impact of exemptions to animal protection laws in favour of the animal agriculture sector and others. [6] [7]

Review the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act?

The government confirmed in its December 2017 Animal Welfare Action Plan that it would review the Act, so this commitment is not new. [8]

Closed-circuit television in Victorian slaughterhouses?

Although the government supports the parliamentary committee’s recommendation to consider (with no guarantee at this stage) the mandatory use of CCTV in slaughterhouses, there would always be a question about the extent of enforcement while regulators sought to support the animal agriculture sector. That would be consistent with parliament’s statement that a key recommendation of the inquiry, which it supports, was “regulators to help build public confidence in [the] animal agriculture sector”. [9]

The government’s response gives it plenty of ways to avoid the CCTV issue if it wishes to do so. Here’s what it said: “Consideration of mandating closed‐circuit television cameras for monitoring of abattoirs requires detailed engagement with industry, and an assessment of current legislative and regulatory (including licencing) requirements. This includes examination of privacy issues, footage security (recording, use and storage), costs, and transitional arrangements.” [10]

The committee’s recommendation itself stated the government should only consider the measure “following consultation with industry, unions and other relevant stakeholders”. [11]

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see AJP in parliament supporting animals but it must ensure it does not overstate its achievements. Supporters need to understand the current reality, and the government needs to be aware that slogans, half measures and mistruths will not satisfy the need for meaningful action.

Author

Paul Mahony

References

[1] Andy Meddick MP, Facebook post 18th June 2020, https://www.facebook.com/AndyMeddickMP/photos/a.149351328763803/1174105559621703/?type=3&theater

[2] Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Council, Economic and Infrastructure Committee, Inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture, February 2020, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/965-eic-lc/inquiry-into-the-impact-of-animal-rights-activism-on-victorian-agriculture and https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCEI/Animal_rights_activism/Report/LCEIC_59-02_Impact_of_animal_activisim_on_Victorian_agriculture.pdf

[3] Andy Meddick MP, Media Release, “Victorian Government adopts Animal Justice Party policy in response to animal activism”, 4th June 2020, https://andymeddick.com.au/media-releases/government-response-activism-inquiry/

[4] Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture Report, Victorian Government Response, May 2020, p. 7, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCEI/Animal_rights_activism/Government_response_to_AA_inquiry_report.pdf

[5] The Hon Jaclyn Symes MP, Media Release, “Standing with farmers against biosecurity threats”, 4 June 2020, https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/200604-Standing-With-Farmers-Against-Biosecurity-Threats.pdf

[6] Agriculture Victoria, Victorian Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare, http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-legislation/victorian-codes-of-practice-for-animal-welfare

[7] Mahony, P., “Farmed animals are on their own: The Victorian government is lying about animal cruelty”, Planetary Vegan, 16 June 2020, https://planetaryvegan.net/2020/06/16/farmed-animals-are-on-their-own-the-victorian-government-is-lying-about-animal-cruelty/

[8] Agriculture Victoria, Animal Welfare Action Plan, Dec 2017, p. 14, http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-action-plan

[9] Parliament of Victoria, Inquiry into animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture, Key Findings, Key Recommendations, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCEI/Animal_rights_activism/Media/Animal_activism_inquiry_v2.pdf

[10] Inquiry into the Impact of Animal Rights Activism on Victorian Agriculture Report, Victorian Government Response, May 2020, op. cit., p. 9

[11] Parliament of Victoria, Legislative Council, Economic and Infrastructure Committee, Inquiry into the impact of animal rights activism on Victorian agriculture, February 2020, op. cit., Recommendation 14, p. 103

Image

We Animals via Aussie Farms, Australian Duck Farming, Vic 2017. Location reported to be Golden Duck Farm, New Gisborne, Victoria, Australia

Related article and page

Farmed animals are on their own: The Victorian government is lying about animal cruelty

Victorian animal cruelty

Update 5th July 2020

Links and references added for: (a) Media Release of 4th July 2020; (b) Article “Farmed animals are on their own: The Victorian government is lying about animal cruelty”; (c) Victorian Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare; and (d) Parliament of Victoria’s recommendation on closed-circuit television.

 

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