Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has urged farmers and rural communities to provide feedback on a new Animal Care and Protection Bill being proposed by the Allan Labor Government that would see farmers face big fines and jail time if they fail proposed new minimum care requirements.
“While I support sensible and reasonable animal welfare improvements, we need to make sure this legislation is not imbalanced and serves the extreme views of animal activists.
“Requirements (with little detail) include ensuring animals enjoy ‘appropriate’ exercise, ambient temperatures, correct noise levels, lighting, air quality, shade and shelter. It also states that animals should not be stressed when ‘loading’.
“In addition, it demands animals have opportunities for appropriate interactions with humans and other animals, including ensuring interactions are conducted in a manner that minimises anxiety, fear, pain or distress.
“Failure to meet an appropriate care requirement puts owners at risk of fines in excess of $20,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.”
Mr Bull said that one of his major concerns is that in a briefing on the Bill, he asked some basic questions that could not be answered by the bureaucracy.
“For instance, I asked if a herd was placed into a paddock to eat out a harvested crop area (common practice), could the farmer be fined for not providing shade. The answer was ‘we will have to get back to you’.
“I then asked why a person can be sentenced to jail for using a jigger on a horse, but it was okay on cattle – and I got the same answer.
“Guidelines issued by the Allan Government also use words like ‘reasonable’ and ‘unreasonable’. My issue is, who decides what constitutes this?
“I then asked what constituted the offence of causing harm or distress when loading an animal, and there was no clear response to that either.”
Mr Bull said he was concerned who would determine what was ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’.
“We have seen some of the sentences handed down by animal activist sympathising judges in the past.
“It is clear the government has also done little consultation with farmers and farming groups in the preparation of this. These men and women should have been given a much greater say in the preparation of the draft legislation.
“The public has until March 8 to provide a response to this draft legislation and can do so on https://engage.vic.gov.au/new-animal-welfare-act-victoria “.
“I urge everyone who has an interest – and that should be all of us – to take some time to read the draft bill and consultation documents on the above website and make a submission,” he said.
Monday, 5 February 2024