Thursday, 1 August 2019
Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019; Second Reading
A lot of people make the choice to buy free-range eggs from the supermarket because they hope it means the hens have had a better life and have been able to roam freely. The CSIRO have said that free-range eggs are from 1,500 chickens per hectare. That is the standard that counts: enough room to move. That would be said to be genuinely free range. You think that's what you're getting if you go into a shop in Australia and buy free-range eggs. In Australia the standard by law is not the CSIRO standard of 1,500 hens per hectare but 10,000 chickens per hectare. That's what counts as free range in Australia. A few years ago, Labor and Liberal ministers did a deal to change the rules to say this is now what counts as free range in Australia. If most people found out about that, they would be very concerned. When you're buying free range you wonder whether that's in fact what you're getting—something where the chicken's welfare plays a part. That's only for free range. Free range is up to 10,000; what about all of the hens who are in battery cages? There's nothing to outlaw that. The pain and suffering they go through their whole lives is the untold story behind getting eggs on our table.
The same goes for pigs. You will still find in Australia that when some sows are pregnant they are put in stalls where they have the ability to take one step forward and one step back. That is being phased out in many places, which is a good thing, but it still exists. We can talk about what happens to piglets who get their tails sliced off and teeth cut and so on. We could talk about how we treat our animals when we put them on ships and the countless numbers that die as they're sent off in the live export trade.
If you want to stop people protesting about animal welfare then lift standards of animal welfare and pass legislation to improve conditions for animals on farms in this country. If you're so worried about protesters, the best way to stop them is to remove their cause for protest in the first place. We've been pushing for many years for a national animal cruelty prevention act, a proper independent office for animal welfare and changes to national standards so everyone in this country would feel comfortable knowing animals here are being properly treated. We've met resistance from all the vested interests in this place, who are not prepared to give animals a voice.
Over the last few years some whistleblowers have been prepared to stand up and say, 'We are going to show you some footage of what is actually going on behind the scenes before the animals get to your tables so that you can make an informed choice and that, hopefully, the parliament might see its way clear to changing the law to improve standards for animals in this country.' Instead of dealing with the problem, what is this government's approach? It's to shoot the messenger and say, 'We have no interest in improving conditions for animals in this country; we're just going to do with this what we do—