RSPCA Australia Chair says animal welfare missing from ‘Animal Welfare Standards’ for chickens

Respected former politician, lawyer and now Chair of RSPCA Australia Gary Humphries has voiced strong concerns about problems in the process used to develop new farming Standards and Guidelines, saying any ‘animal welfare’ component has been ignored entirely.

Mr Humphries - who was Chief Minister of the ACT from 2000 to 2001, represented Canberra in the Australian Senate as a Liberal Senator from 2003 to 2013, and is now Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – made the comments in a video released by the RSPCA today.

In the video, Mr Humphries reiterates the alarm previously expressed by the organisation about the ‘gagging’ of animal welfare organisations in the process, and the lack of good science and evidence behind the proposed new Standards.

“The RSPCA is worried opposing viewpoints have been dismissed in favour of dominant interests,” said Mr Humphries.

“We’re worried the RSPCA’s name will be falsely used to add credibility to standards that we absolutely don’t endorse or support.

“And in fact we know some cage egg producers already try to convince their customers such standards are supported by the RSPCA. That’s simply not true.”

Mr Humphries said the overwhelming science and evidence was being intentionally ignored in favouring of maintaining the industry status quo, particularly in relation to the welfare of layer hens in battery cages.

“The RSPCA is very concerned for Australia’s layer hens, who will be condemned to live their lives in barren battery cages for a decade or more,” said Mr Humphries.

Mr Humphries said the RSPCA’s experience of the process so far has been that any consideration for animal welfare in the Standards has been snubbed.

“As a lawyer, and former politician and policy-maker, I’m used to relying upon evidence,” said Mr Humphries.

“I know what good evidence looks like, and I know what good policy looks like – and I know both are missing from these new Standards.”

The RSPCA continues to be vocal about its concerns regarding the new Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Poultry, including that requests for an independent review of relevant scientific literature had been repeatedly ignored.

Subsequently, the RSPCA flagged its intention to withdraw its support from the industry- and government-funded process if the resulting Standards are not based on sound evidence and valid animal welfare science.

Once finalised, the Standards will govern the way approximately 700 million layer hens, meat chickens, turkeys, and ducks are treated in Australia’s commercial poultry industries each year, for at least the next decade or more.

To find out more about layer hen welfare in Australia, visit