2023 Policy Initiative - Ending Industrial Abuse of Sentient Beings

Legally recognising animal sentience and ensuring animals used for human benefit experience lives worth living.

Anyone lucky enough to have animals in their life knows well that every individual animal has its own unique personality, fears and interests. 

The science on animal sentience has been settled for decades, but NSW’s animal welfare laws are stuck in the past. Until we recognise the basic fact that animals are thinking, feeling beings, we can’t move forward to meet the community’s expectations for how we should treat animals.

From cruelty in intensive factory farming driven by profit at the cost of quality of life, to callous animal experimentation in medical research that continues because alternatives have not been resourced and prioritised, industries that use animals for human benefit continue to needlessly exploit animals, despite community expectations and scientific consensus. 

We have a responsibility to the animals we share our planet with. By enshrining the fact of animal sentience in our laws, The Greens will create a foundation to overhaul our animal welfare laws and the practices of industries governed by them. 

THE GREENS WILL: 

  • Legally recognise the science of animal sentience in our laws, and extend existing anti-cruelty laws by adding a responsibility to also provide animals with opportunities to experience comfort, interest and pleasure
  • Mandate an end to cruel factory farming practices like the use of sow stalls and battery cages that deny animals a life worth living
  • Resource the phase out of mulesing and tail docking through a selective breeding program, towards a five-year ban
  • Immediately ban cruel practices in animal medical research like forced swim tests, smoking tower tests, and draize eye tests
  • Resource the transition away from animal experimentation and towards alternative methods of medical research and testing

MODERNISING ANIMAL WELFARE LAWS TO RECOGNISE ANIMAL SENTIENCE 

The Greens will overhaul our animal welfare laws to legally recognise that animals are sentient, creating a foundation to build stronger protections for animals based on their ability to not just feel pain, but also have positive experiences.

There is strong scientific consensus on the fact that animals are sentient — thinking, feeling beings with individual personalities and the capacity to experience a range of positive and negative states, from joy to fear, pleasure to suffering. The community too knows that each animal is someone, not something. 

Our laws are built on an outdated fiction however that animals aren’t sentient. Until we remedy that, society cannot have a sensible discussion about the ways we use animals or the standards we hold animal industries to.

This law reform would create a responsibility to not just prevent negative experiences, but also provide opportunity for positive experiences. In practice this means providing a varied diet, shade and shelter, and room to play, move, interact, and live a good life — not just a life endured.

In 2022, the Greens introduced a Bill to modernise our animal welfare laws to recognise animal sentience. The legislation is ready to be voted on and could become law this year.

ENDING THE CRUELTY OF INDUSTRIAL ANIMAL AGRICULTURE 

The public knows that intensive factory farming is unnecessarily cruel, but the worst of industrial agriculture has been allowed to flourish under lax regulation in NSW. The Greens will end it. 

There is overwhelming public demand for humane treatment of farmed animals that allow them a life worth living. 

Yet successive governments have continued to sanction cruelty by refusing to prioritise an end to these outdated profit-driven practices. The Greens will prioritise a rapid transition away from factory farming through:

  • An end to battery cages by 2030 and a ban on debeaking and forced moulting of hens in the egg production industry.
  • A ban on sow stalls and farrowing crates brought into effect over a rapid two year transition to enforce the industry’s failure to self-regulate a phase out.
  • Mandated shade for farmed animals to protect from extreme temperatures and support for farmers to install shade structures and plant shade tree shelter belts.
  • Tightening animal transport standards, including density limits and restricting the amount of time farmed animals can spend in transit.
  • CCTV monitoring of all factory farming facilities.

TRANSITIONING AWAY FROM MULESING

Mulesing is cruel, outdated and increasingly unnecessary. With the political will, we can rapidly transition away from mulesing and end the practice altogether.

Mulesing does not have to be a reality in the wool industry. With alternative methods of controlling flystrike available and selective breeding of plain-bodied sheep resulting in sheep that are resistant to all forms of flystrike, the cruelty of mulesing is no longer necessary,

The global wool market has already begun transitioning from mulesing, with a significant number of jurisdictions and brands committing to only purchase non-mulesed wool, and New Zealand banning the practice entirely in 2018. 

The Greens will phase out mulesing via:

  • An immediate requirement for pain relief administered before and immediately following mulesing and tail docking, and ongoing pain relief and wound care in the weeks following.
  • Government support for selective breeding of plain-bodied sheep and resourcing to support the wool industry and participating farmers to rapidly initiate selective breeding programs.
  • A complete ban on mulesing and tail docking to come into effect after five years.

ENDING ANIMAL SUFFERING IN MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC TESTING

Millions of animals are used for experimentation by medical and scientific research industries every year. So much of their suffering can be prevented with investment in oversight and alternatives. 

There are a plethora of modern and cost- effective alternatives to animal experimentation which have proven to be effective by clinical professional bodies. With modern science and technology, animal experimentation is so often no longer necessary.

The Greens will end animal suffering in medical and scientific research by:

  • Banning the most cruel animal experiments, including forced swim tests, smoking tower tests, draize eye tests, and the poisoning of animals in toxicity and toxicological tests.
  • Banning animal dissection in primary and secondary schools.
  • Promoting alternatives to animal experimentation in tertiary education settings, including through phased out funding for teaching involving animal dissection and experimentation.
  • Increasing independent oversight of animal testing and research, including breeding and homing.
  • Funding research and investment in alternative research methods.
  • Incentivising research and testing that does not use animals.

HOW THE GREENS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR ANIMALS

In the last parliament, it was the Greens who:

Led the way in overhauling the legislative framework of animal welfare in this state, by introducing two Bills to:

  • Establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare
  • Legally recognise animal sentience and establish a responsibility to provide animals with opportunities to experience comfort, interest and pleasure

Held the government to account on greyhound racing, by:

  • Introducing a Bill to require greyhounds to be tracked from birth to death
  • Interrogating the industry in the Parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of greyhound racing

Stood up for koalas by introducing two Bills to: 

  • Establish the Great Koala Protected Area 
  • End logging of koala habitat 

Participated in Parliamentary inquiries into:

  • Battery cages for hens
  • Koala populations and habitat
  • Enforcement of animal cruelty laws
  • Kangaroo health and wellbeing
  • Puppy farming
  • Animal welfare policy
  • Use of animals in medical testing

 

References

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