The RSPCA has welcomed the funding for several important animal welfare initiatives in the 23-24 Federal Budget, and says the decisions represent a long-overdue and much-needed focus on animal welfare at a federal level.
RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said, as Australia’s leading animal welfare authority, the RSPCA was particularly reassured to see $1.2M in funding for the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy ($5M from FY22-23 to FY26-27 inclusive), as well as a total of $5.6M over two years to see through plans for the phase-out of live sheep export from Australia ($2.2M in FY22-23; $3.4M in FY23-24).
“Australians have made it clear time and again that animal welfare is important to them, and a thriving agricultural sector depends upon meeting the community’s expectations of good animal welfare,” he said.
“A well-resourced national strategy to accomplish this is an important first step, setting out a clear framework as well as sending the strong message that animal welfare is a priority for the government.
“We are also pleased to see adequate funding directed to continuing progress on arrangements to phase-out live sheep export, and hope this is an indicator of a sustained and longer-term strategy of investing more in improving animal welfare across the board.
“In 2023, we find ourselves on the cusp of finally moving away from two of Australia’s most notorious, abhorrent and outdated farming practices – the live export of sheep and the use of battery cages for layer hens.
“Ending practices like these is among the significant and sorely-needed steps we need to take to raise Australian animal welfare standards, protect Australia’s international reputation and ensure animal welfare is included as an important part of sustainable agriculture,” said Mr Mussell.
Mr Mussell said the RSPCA was also pleased to see funding allocated to improving Australia's broken system of national Standards and Guidelines.
“Addressing this dysfunctional, inefficient and ineffective process is crucial to ensuring our standards are based on science and evidence, and allowing producers the certainty they need to support planning and investment.
“Again, we hope to see this funding maintained and increased into the future, to adequately and appropriately invest in improved animal welfare in Australia,” he said.