RSPCA tells Senate: Ag-gag won’t protect Australian animals

RSPCA Australia is today urging a federal senate committee to throw out a proposed bill that protects the perpetrators of animal cruelty.

RSPCA Australia opposes the Criminal Code Amendment (Animal Protection) Bill 2015 tabled by Senator Chris Back with our concerns being echoed by other prominent groups including the Australian Veterinary Association and leading media organisations.

“This Bill, which only targets people who take a photograph or video of cruelty, is focused on the wrong people. It's the bystanders who witness cruelty that lack the motivation to report what they see. The shearing foreman that allows men to punch sheep; the abattoir worker who turns a blind eye to a co-worker kicking a downer pig; and the countless greyhound owners and trainers who condoned illegal live baiting. They are the people that this bill should be targeting,” said Mr Jed Goodfellow, RSPCA Australia Policy Officer.

“The Bill is fundamentally flawed and has nothing to do with animal protection: it imposes an arbitrary and unrealistic reporting timeframe, applies only to those individuals who take video or photographs of cruelty and not to eye witnesses, and provides no protections for those people mandated to report and fails to address the underlying causes of animal cruelty.

“The proposed mandatory reporting requirements are unmatched by other serious issues such as the reporting of child abuse and terrorist activities. The Bill requires only those who record cruelty to report it and deliberately ignores the fact that anyone watching cruelty is equally responsible for reporting it.

“It should not have to take someone with a camera to raise the alarm when there are already eye-witnesses to the events being filmed; anyone witnessing animal cruelty has a moral obligation to report it to the relevant authorities.

“If this Bill had been in place in February, then greyhound trainers around the country would still be torturing live piglets, rabbits and possums for the purpose of ‘training’ their greyhounds,” said Mr Goodfellow.

RSPCA is now involved in special enquiries across the country, life bans and suspensions have been imposed on trainers and there is a police task force in Queensland dedicated to uncovering illegal activities with 21 trainers already facing 63 charges of serious animal cruelty in that state alone.

“If Senator Back is really concerned about preventing animal cruelty, then he should be calling for more funding for regulators, for enforceable minimum standards for farm animals, for legislation to end puppy farms, and for the mandatory installation of cameras in abattoirs,” said Mr Goodfellow.