3077. Hon Alison Xamon to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:

I refer to the revelations of animal abuse on Western Australian cattle farms exposed in a December 2019 broadcast and the Minister’s announcement that action would be taken by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in the pastoral region to enhance animal welfare outcomes by improving the response capacity of the Department’s Livestock Compliance officers, and I ask:

(a)  can the Minister please explain how the response capacity of Livestock Compliance officers has been improved;

(b)  can the Minister guarantee that this will prevent similar abuses being perpetrated in the future;

(c)  what other actions will be taken to work with livestock managers to improve animal welfare standards;

(d)  can the Minister please outline the timeline for the ratification of outstanding national standards for Cattle; and

(e)  will the Government act to change the statute of limitations on egregious acts of animal abuse to ensure that perpetrators do not escape justice and incidents like those witnessed do not occur again?

Hon Alannah MacTiernan replied:

(a)  As part of ongoing machinery of government changes at DPIRD, the Livestock Compliance function of 13 officers has been integrated with similar functions from legacy agencies to create a new 88 FTE Compliance Directorate. The new Directorate provides a greater pool of resources and specialist capability to draw from with an enhanced geographic spread. This ensures that compliance officers can focus on areas where they have appropriate skills and industry knowledge.

(b)  No, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is committed to working with industry to support positive animal welfare outcomes, however ultimately responsibility lies with those in charge of animals.

(c)  Funding for the Northern Beef Development program managed by DPIRD has recently been extended for a further four years. This program is planning a number of extension projects that will assist livestock managers across the rangelands improve animal welfare standards, including pain-relief demonstration sites for de-horning, pastoral training programs for indigenous businesses and support of grazing management by providing access to satellite imagery to measure available pasture for feed budgeting.

(d)  DPIRD has prepared instructions for the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, to inform the drafting of regulations giving effect to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle (2016). This matter will be progressed once the Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards and Depots) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations have been introduced – expected in October 2020.

(e)  The independent Panel appointed to review the Animal Welfare Act 2002 is considering modification of the statute of limitations (2 years) on animal cruelty. The Panel is expected to provide its final report, including recommendations on legislative amendments, by the end of September 2020.


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