Shane Rattenbury, MLA
The ACT Government says the national review of poultry standards is a chance to improve welfare for chickens and implement clear and truthful labelling for eggs.
The ACT Government, in its submission on the proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry, has called for the standards to protect animal welfare and ensure clear labelling of eggs to inform consumers.
Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury said the ACT also had stringent regulations around how eggs are displayed for sale.
“Although we have banned battery cage egg production, we can’t prevent cage eggs produced elsewhere being sold here. But it is mandatory to inform consumers how the laying hens are housed and signage must be provided on the packaging and in supermarket displays to help consumers make informed choices,” said Mr Rattenbury.
“Ideally we’d see other jurisdictions following suit, outlawing inhumane farming practices, and supporting consumer choice.
“Unfortunately the Federal Government's recent 'free range' standard is too weak and lets a farming operation with 10,000 chickens per hectare call itself 'free range'. This does not meet community expectations of what they consider 'free range'. The ACT supports a free range standard of a maximum 1500 chickens per hectare.”
In 2014, the Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens resulted in changes to ensure eggs are produced in the Territory in a more humane manner.
“We amended the Animal Welfare Act 1992 to improve and protect animal welfare in the ACT by outlawing factory farming practices, including battery cages for egg production,” said Meegan Fitzharris, Minister for Transport and City Services.
“Since the legislation came into force, there have been no reports received by the ACT Government or RSPCA ACT of businesses breaching farming practices and the community now has a better understanding about how eggs are produced,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“In addition, these new proposed poultry guidelines let down the community when it comes to animal welfare. In the very least the Federal Government should be considering how it can phase out the inhumane practice of battery cage production,” Mr Rattenbury concluded.
The development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry is an important initiative of all governments and poultry industries to guide the development of new, nationally consistent policies to enhance animal welfare arrangements in all Australian states and territories. Public submissions on the draft document have now closed, with more than 165,000 submissions received.