2885. Hon Alison Xamon to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:
I refer to the revelations of animal abuse on Western Australian cattle farms exposed in a December 2019 broadcast and the Minister’s commitment to fast track regulation to make it an offence to de-horn six month old cattle and older without painkillers, and I ask:
(a) can the Minister please advise the current status of these proposed regulations; and
(b) will the Minister consider extending the regulations to cover cattle younger than six months;
(c) if no to (b), why not?
Hon Alannah MacTiernan replied:
(a) In February of this year I approved amendments to the Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2003 (General Regulations) to remove the existing adopted code of practice for cattle, the ‘Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle’ and replace it with the ‘Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle’. The regulation amendments are being drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office.
Representatives of the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), Australian Lot Feeders‘ Association Inc (ALFA), Dairy Australia, Animal Welfare Committee (AWC), CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture (formerly DAFF) and supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA) drafted the guidelines. Public consultation for the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle ran for 6 months from March until August 2013. Views were sought from a range of people and organisations interested in the welfare of cattle. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle were agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in 2016.
No action to date has been taken to incorporate these into Western Australian law.
Adopted codes of practice can be used as a defence to a charge of cruelty. The existing code of practice exempts feral cattle from the use of pain relief when dehorning. Once these amendments are in place, there will no longer be a defence to a charge of cruelty for dehorning any calf over the age of six months without appropriate pain relief.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is also preparing drafting instructions to implement the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle as stand-alone regulations. Once these specific regulations are in place, they will provide regulatory offences in relation to dehorning.
(b)–(c) The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle, do not set standards for pain relief in cattle younger than six months, but pain relief for surgical procedures is recommended in (non-mandatory) guidelines. DPIRD recommends the use of pain relief when dehorning cattle less than six months, consistent with these guidelines.