State Election 2021 - why animal welfare matters 27 November 2020 RSPCA WA’s Animal Welfare Matters in the 2021 State Election lists 6 key actions it wants government to commit to, ranging from full Inspectorate coverage for the State to subsidised dog and cat sterilisation and improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. RSPCA WA has released an Animal Welfare Matters policy document, ahead of the March 2021 State election. It outlines six key animal welfare actions the RSPCA is urging all political parties and independent candidates to adopt. More than 70 per cent of Western Australians say animal welfare is important, or extremely important to them1, making it a key election issue. One of the six actions in the document is ‘Improve the welfare of animals in agriculture’. Specifically, RSPCA WA is seeking a commitment from candidates to tackle: the use of pain relief for mulesing transitions away from battery cages in egg production the phasing out of sow stalls in pork production, and the introduction of clear standards and regulations around abattoirs and knackeries RSPCA WA acknowledges the many producers and representative groups working towards these same goals but we also need the next government to commit to these changes to ensure they are adopted throughout the state. This will not only see an increase in animal welfare, it will also have financial and other benefits for the agricultural sector and regional communities. More and more we are seeing consumers make food and fibre purchasing decisions based on the welfare of the animal who produced it. A report commissioned by the Federal Department of Agriculture2 shows 95 per cent of people view farm animal welfare to be a concern and 91 per cent want at least some reform to address this. Suggestions by focus groups include a minimum standard set by government and incentivising farmers in relation to good animal welfare practices. Well-known animal welfare researcher, Marian Dawkins, concluded that by realising that high standards of animal welfare can pay dividends in hard cash, we can make animal welfare the welcome partner rather than the opponent of efficient farming.3 For example, a study by BG Economics found 84 per cent of wool growers have experienced an increased return on investment since transitioning to plain-bodied Merinos and phasing out mulesing.4 RSPCA WA has already started approaching political parties to discuss Animal Welfare Matters in the 2021 State Election with them. REFERENCES RSPCA WA Inc. Community Perceptions Research, October 2015 Futureye (2018) Australia’s shifting mindset on farm animal welfare. Dawkins, MS (2017) Animal welfare and efficient farming: is conflict inevitable? Animal Production Science 57:201-208. BG Economics (2020) Towards a non-mulesed future: Selective breeding to counteract flystrike in Australian Merino sheep.