2023 Policy Initiative - Animal Welfare Oversight with Teeth

Enforcing animal welfare for all animals - Animals are sentient beings that feel joy, fear and pain. But for too long, animals in NSW have been without the protection they deserve from cruelty and exploitation, thanks to political interference and poor resourcing.

By establishing an independent statutory authority responsible for oversight of animal welfare in NSW, and properly resourcing community-run rescue and inspectorate programs, we can remove the undue political influence of the major parties and their big donors from animal protection. 

THE GREENS WILL: 

  • Establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare
  • Unify animal welfare oversight by moving responsibility for all animal welfare issues into the Independent Office of Animal Welfare
  • Provide adequate funding to the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League
  • Fund community organisations that rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals

AN INDEPENDENT ANIMAL WELFARE AUTHORITY

The Greens will establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare responsible for advising on animal welfare and protection issues, and for monitoring compliance with and enforcement of animal welfare laws.

Our animal welfare and protection regime is out of date. Contemporary scientific knowledge about animals and animal welfare, advances in technology, and community expectations have all progressed and evolved while our laws have stagnated. 

The major parties are captured by those that profit from animals, and we see time and time again that the laws they enact and departments they administer favour industry over the animals for which they have responsibility. 

The current regime is failing animals — it’s time for a new approach that puts animal welfare first. 

In 2022 the Greens introduced a Bill to establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare. The legislation is ready to be voted on and could become law this year.

UNIFYING ANIMAL WELFARE OVERSIGHT

Whether an animal is farmed, raced for entertainment and gambling, or kept as a pet, its welfare should be guaranteed and enforced in the same way. 

Currently responsibility for animal welfare is split across four different government departments and enforcement falls to each individual local council, to the NSW Police, to racing bodies, and to the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League. No one body has ultimate oversight for all animal welfare matters in this state. 

In establishing the Independent Office of Animal Welfare, the Greens will rectify this. The Independent Office will take over companion animal matters from the Office of Local Government and farmed animal matters and animal medical research oversight from the Department of Primary Industries. The Independent office will also work closely with the Department of Planning and Environment on wild, native and introduced animal matters, and will take responsibility for animal welfare issues relating to racing and entertainment. 

This will all be done under a Minister for Animal Welfare who will work closely with, but not have oversight over, the Independent Office, and will never also hold Agriculture or Racing portfolios. 

WELL-RESOURCED ENFORCEMENT 

Despite being responsible for almost all enforcement of animal welfare in the state, the RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW receive less than half a million dollars in public funding a year. 

As a result, these hard-working organisations are forced to rely on charitable donations and other revenue streams to conduct their inspectorate programs and prosecute people in breach of animal welfare laws. 

No other law in NSW relies on donations from members of the public to be enforced.

The Greens will ensure that the inspectorate and prosecution functions of the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League are fully funded with public money.

We will also ensure adequate oversight and accountability of inspectorate programs through the Independent Office of Animal Welfare.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF RESCUE

Animal rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming are essential public services, and should be funded as such. 

The NSW Government provides no recurring funding to community-run animal shelters or sanctuaries, despite the crucial work they do in caring for companion animals and animals that have escaped animal use industries like agriculture, racing and medical research. 

The Greens will establish a permanent fund to provide grants and recurrent funding to community rescues. We recognise that community-run animal organisations in particular come in all shapes and sizes, and so will tailor grants programs to suit rescues without capacity for expensive administrative and financial reporting.

References:

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