Page 1364 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 28 March 2012

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acceptable way to treat animals. So regardless of what happens with the government’s negotiations with Parkwood, banning battery cage egg production in the ACT is the right thing to do.

Battery cage egg production has already been banned by many countries, including basically the European Union—the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Norway—as well as some states in Canada and the US. It has been banned because it is widely recognised that hens kept in cage systems suffer chronically and that they are one of the most abused of all farmed animals. This bill is intended to improve the quality of life for hens by requiring that egg production only be undertaken using more humane alternatives.

A battery cage, just to remind members, is made of metal and it usually houses three to five birds, although I believe the ones in Parkwood house less. In any case, the bird has less space than the A4 sheet of paper that I am reading from. The small size of cages means that birds cannot turn around easily, they cannot stretch out, they cannot flap their wings and they cannot exercise. The floor of the cage slopes down at the front so that the eggs just roll on out. Hens kept in these sorts of conditions suffer. This bill is designed to improve their welfare. Cages simply do not satisfy the hens’ behavioural needs. They did not evolve to live in this way. Cages do not enable them to perch, dust bathe, forage and lay their eggs in a secluded place.

If this bill is passed the ban on cage egg production would take effect from 1 January 2014, which would provide time for cage egg producers in the ACT to modify their production systems at minimal cost. Currently there is, of course, only one producer of cage eggs in the ACT, Parkwood farm in west Macgregor, which is owned by Pace. I have written and asked Pace if I could visit their facility to see it myself but Pace has not agreed to this.

Apart from the animal welfare issues, which are the Greens’ number one issue, as I mentioned in the debate last week another reason to restrict factory farming—cage egg production, of course, is part of that—is human health and the increasing use of antibiotics. Eighty per cent of antibiotics consumed in the world are consumed in factory farming locations. The World Health Organisation have been warning for a few years about the grim outlook for antibiotics for human beings. They are saying that we are entering into an era where bacteria are increasingly becoming antibiotic resistant and common injuries such as scratches and falls, where the skin is broken and there is an infection, could well end up killing people. A lot of advanced medicine will have to cease because if we cannot control infections then we will not be able to do the major surgery which is now routinely part of Western medicine. So even if you do not care about animal welfare, from the point of view of human welfare we need to seriously look at factory farming.

Not all people agree that we should be getting rid of cage egg production. There seem to be a number of reasons for this. The first is that some people seem to think it is not cruel. This was the argument that was advanced by Mrs Dunne in the debate last week. She basically felt that because the hens keep laying, everything must be okay. That is, I think, not the case. What happens in battery cage production is that hens are kept there for only a year. They are then considered spent, they are taken away and they

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