Govt sentences millions of animals to misery

Published: Wed 22 Dec 2004 11:31 AM
Govt sentences millions of animals to misery and pain
The Animal Welfare Codes released by the Government today have sentenced millions of chickens and pigs to lives of misery and pain, the Greens say.
“It beggars belief that this Government can be so cruel to so many animals,” Green Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.
“It is shocking that the Government is giving a green light – in the name of animal welfare – to the keeping of hens in wretched captivity in a living space smaller than the size of an A4 piece of paper. These hens will continue losing their feathers, having their beaks burnt off, and suffering raw, red, broken, festering skin as a result of their incarceration.
“It is absolutely clear that keeping hens in cages and pigs in sow crates violates the principles of the Animal Welfare Act and is therefore illegal. But the Government has decided it is more important to protect poultry and pig farmers and their right to make money from exploiting animals, than it is to protect animals or to uphold the law.”
Ms Kedgley said Parliament, not the Minister of Agriculture, should be making important policy decisions such as whether or not millions of animals are kept in captivity. Accordingly, she is drafting a Private Member’s Bill that would ban sow crates and battery cages within five years.
“My Bill seeks to restore one of the basic principles of the Animal Welfare Act 1999: that animals must be allowed to express normal patterns of behaviour. Animals in cages cannot move around and therefore cannot be said to be displaying normal patterns of behaviour.”
Ms Kedgley said the Government could not rationalise its cruel decision by saying it is based on a recommendation from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).
“Mr Sutton has a brain of his own and the power to go against the advice of NAWAC. He should do so. If he is still unsure about whether sow crates and battery cages amount to animal cruelty, perhaps he should agree to be locked in a sow crate himself and see whether he is still able to exhibit normal patterns of behaviour.”
Ms Kedgley said it appeared that both NAWAC and Mr Sutton had been compromised by conflicts of interest.
“These codes exist not to protect animals but to protect industries from prosecution. NAWAC is dominated by people – such as vets, researchers and farmers – who derive their income from the use of animals. They seem to have concluded that making money off animals is more important than animal welfare.
“Mr Sutton has attempted to fulfil dual roles as Minister of Agriculture: he is trying to protect the right of farmers to use animals in inherently cruel ways, while also being charged with protecting animals from harm. Every time these two roles have conflicted, he has chosen farmer profit over animal welfare.”

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