RSPCA WA has made its submission to the consultation on the Animal Welfare and Farm Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill. While we support the objectives of the Bill, we do not agree with the way the proposed legislation is currently presented.

We share the industry’s concerns that the proposed legislation will not be effective in achieving its objective on two particular points:

  1. The power to enter a commercial premises should not be restricted solely to employees of DPIRD. These powers should be made available equally to any professional, knowledgeable and experienced animal welfare inspector from any agency. Why would it be OK to have an RSPCA Inspector attend a property in response to a cruelty report, but not on a proactive inspection visit to check compliance? It doesn’t make sense.
  2. We believe the proposed legislation should apply to all places where animals are farmed for food or fibre, not just intensive poultry and pig farms. Animal welfare issues can occur anywhere and all inspectors should be able to enter those premises to ensure compliance.

You can read our position paper on the Animal Welfare and Farm Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill here.

Excluding RSPCA Inspectors from being able to conduct proactive inspections at commercial production places seems counterproductive to the objective of the Bill. Excluding RSPCA’s professional, experienced and knowledgeable Inspectors supports recent efforts by industry to drive a wedge between producers and the RSPCA. We would much rather work with producers to prevent dire situations occurring with the ability to take a proactive approach, than turn up when it’s too late and animals’ lives, and producers’ livelihoods, have been put at risk.

Producers would likely benefit far more by seeking to collaborate with RSPCA on animal welfare issues, and be seen by the consumers of their products to be transparent about their animal welfare practices. Major fashion brands are seeking alternatives to mulesed wool in greater numbers [link to Michael’s article], and in supermarkets, trends show that people are prepared to spend a little more higher welfare eggs and meat.

A history of blaming RSPCA WA and actively not engaging with us has got the industry to the point it’s at today, where animal activists have a stronger voice than ever before and are taking drastic measures to push their agenda. Now is the time for producers to work collaboratively to ensure the industry can restore their strong social license, which is essential to survive and thrive in the future.