Labor will reinstate national leadership on animal welfare

Labor will reinstate national leadership in animal welfare matters and dedicate resources to a new national framework. 

Labor will achieve this with our Six Point Plan to ensure respecting animal welfare standards is a top priority for every industry that works with animals. 

This election is a choice between a Shorten Labor Government taking the lead on animal welfare, or more chaos and division from the Liberals and Nationals.  

Protecting animal welfare and boosting sustainable profitability in the agriculture sector aren’t competing aims – they support one another.  

The growing demand for high quality and ethically produced food means Australia’s producers must embrace the highest animal welfare standards to remain internationally competitive. 

We’ve already seen how turning a blind eye to systemic cruelty damages our reputation, fuels community concern, and allows a small few to make high profits at the expense of the majority doing the right thing. 

Labor’s Six Point Plan will re-establish national leadership on animal welfare – filling the void left by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government over their time in office.   

A Shorten Labor Government will: 

1.  Establish an independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports 

Labor will provide $1 million a year to establish the Inspector-General of Animal Welfare as an independent statutory position operating within the Department of Agriculture. The Inspector-General will be responsible for advising on the protection of animals in all Commonwealth-regulated activities and will report directly to the Minister of the day on issues concerning live export, animal welfare standards and guidelines. The Inspector-General will also work with the states and territories to establish an independent Office of Animal Welfare to oversee animal protection and welfare activities nationally. 

2.  Re-establish state and territory cooperation on animal welfare matters 

 Under the previous Labor Government, the Commonwealth, States and Territories cooperated on animal welfare and primary industry issues through a range of official forums which have since been abolished by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government. Labor will re-establish state and territory cooperation to ensure animal welfare matters receive the consistent national approach they deserve.      

  3. Renew the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy 

 Labor will work with state and territory governments, industry and animal welfare groups to update and renew the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy for the coming decade. We will draw on the best available research and evidence to develop a strategy that confirms Australia as a leader in our region for the care and protection of animals.  

4. Review the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS)

The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System plays a critical role in reassuring Australian agricultural producers, their customers and the broader community that animal welfare is being protected at every stage from the farm gate to the plate. A Shorten Labor Government will conduct a top-to-bottom review of the system to ensure it is working as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

5. Provide more transparency and accountability

Under Labor, the Minister for Agriculture will provide quarterly reports to the Parliament on: 

  • New and emerging live export markets.
  • The number of head exported.
  • Any allegations of breaches of animal welfare standards and investigations undertaken.
  • Any sanctions or other action taken for breaches of Australia’s animal welfare standards. 

  6.    Labor will immediately ban the northern summer live sheep trade and 
       propose a plan which would phase out the live sheep trade within five  

   The only way to ensure scientific animal welfare standards are met, community expectations on animal welfare are met and for certainty to be provided for our farmers is to ban the northern summer live sheep export  trade and to implement an orderly phase out over a five year period. 

In delivering our plan to reinstate national federal leadership and to better protect animal welfare, Labor will work with state and territory governments and stakeholders across primary industry to ensure these policies protect our international reputation and build competitiveness in export markets. 

Raising the bar on animal welfare will ensure our agricultural producers can continue to expand into the growing high value premium consumer markets in Asia and beyond, building on Australia’s reputation as a provider of clean, green, safe, high quality and ethically produced products.  

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