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The RSPCA is disheartened, yet sadly unsurprised, at revelations this week that Australia has fallen to an embarrassing ‘D’ ranking in World Animal Protection’s Animal Protection Index.

The latest Animal Protection Index report ranks 50 countries on their commitment to protect animal welfare in legislation, on a scale from ‘A' being the highest, to ‘G’ for countries showing no legislated care for animal welfare.

Australia’s ranking of ‘D’ places us behind New Zealand, Mexico and Malaysia’s ‘C' ratings and the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland's ratings of ‘B’. No countries scored an outstanding ‘A’.

RSPCA Australia Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow said this was a wake-up call for the federal and state and territory governments to do more to protect Australia’s international reputation and better protect our iconic wildlife and farm animals.

“This is yet another glaring example of why Australia needs national leadership on animal welfare, and why we need further investment in modernising our animal welfare standards,” said Dr Goodfellow.

“Australians are more aware than ever before of the animal welfare issues faced in our country by animals in all environments; farming, recreational, companion, wild, captivity, and scientific research.

“A large reason for the nation’s decline into a ‘D’ ranking related to the lack of national frameworks for animal welfare and the glacial pace at which Australia is reviewing its deficient voluntary Model Codes of Practice for livestock that are decades out of date.

“A key example of the failure of this system is the ongoing and years-long delayed finalisation of the nation’s animal welfare standards for poultry – a process that commenced in 2015 and is still ongoing, even though the resulting Standards will govern the welfare of more than 700 million animals every year in Australia, for the foreseeable future,” said Dr Goodfellow.

Australia scored a ‘C' ranking in the Animal Protection Index in 2014, and World Animal Protection said the drop in rank is also a result of the Australian Government’s previous Australian Animal Welfare Strategy not being renewed, as well as the minimal budget being allocated to animal welfare as an issue.

“Australians will be sorely disappointed and embarrassed by this ranking as it certainly doesn’t reflect their level of concern for animal welfare, said Dr Goodfellow.

“Many will be driven to continue demanding our Government take animal welfare seriously and legislate for their protection, alongside the RSPCA,” said Dr Goodfellow.

“Australia wants to be known as a fair and compassionate country, and this ranking will affect our international reputation.

“The time for federal leadership and modern legislation is now, if Australia wants to be seen as a progressive nation that takes animal welfare seriously,” said Dr Goodfellow.

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