Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2130 ..
MS HORODNY (continuing):
The Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill will also tighten up the animal welfare provisions by giving inspectors the power to make random walk-through inspections of commercial, research and educational facilities where animals are kept. Currently, inspectors have to give seven days' notice to the operators of these premises, which is not effective in catching out illegal and inappropriate behaviour. This would put animal welfare inspectors on a par with health inspectors who have the right to do random inspections of restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets. This Bill will also establish publicly accessible reporting procedures for inspections of premises to improve the transparency and accountability of the actions of the Animal Welfare Authority in ensuring that animals are not being mistreated in the ACT. Reports of inspections will be required to be freely available from the Animal Welfare Authority so that the public can be satisfied that it is doing its job properly.
In the case of prosecutions for animal welfare offences, the Bill will also remove the defence of adherence to a code of practice. We do not believe that industry codes of practice have much to do with animal welfare. Industry standards are about maximising production while doing the minimum required to keep the hens alive and producing eggs. The existing code of practice is vaguely worded and subject to differing interpretations, and that has been the cause of many of the problems to date. It is also completely inadequate by the most basic standards that are required for the treatment of other animals such as domestic pets.
This legislation, if passed, will be groundbreaking for Australia, but there is interest from animal welfare groups right across the country to push for similar legislation in the States. There are also moves overseas to ban battery cages. Switzerland banned battery cages in 1992, and Sweden has made a commitment to ban cages by 1999. The ACT has the chance to lead Australia in its protection of both farm and domestic animals. I commend this Bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mrs Carnell) adjourned.
Title read by Clerk.
MS HORODNY: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, the Food (Amendment) Bill complements the Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill by banning, after the three-year phase-in period, the sale of eggs produced by hens kept under battery cage conditions. Egg producers from outside the ACT who use the battery cage system will also have to modify their practices if they want to sell eggs in the ACT. Parkwood Eggs will thus not be disadvantaged, relative to other egg producers in the ACT market, in meeting the requirements of these Bills. An exception to this rule will be where eggs are used as ingredients in other food products sold in the ACT, as the source of the eggs, in this case, would be too difficult to monitor and police.