31 Jul 2012

Future of animal welfare codes to be reviewed

9:49 am on 31 July 2012

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee plans to review welfare codes.

Fifteen codes are in place, setting out minimum standards and guidelines on the care and conduct of animals, ranging from those in circuses and rodeos to animals grazed on farms.

Welfare Advisory Committee chairman John Hellstrom says codes are often not the best tool to protect the welfare of animals.

He says they are hard to enforce because it's necessary to prove animal suffering as well as non-compliance with the code.

Mr Hellstrom says the idea of having regulations is that if you can show that someone is not meeting that regulation then it is an automatic offence.

Mr Hellstrom believes a mix of regulations and guidelines or codes would be the best outcome.

He says there are areas where regulations are needed, such as the new standards for sow crates and if people continue to use sow crates after the end of 2014 then they should be prosecuted.

But Mr Hellstrom says one of the advantages of codes is that they include recommended best practices.

He says over the life of codes it's often the case that things that were recommended best practices 10 years ago move to become minimum standards, which indicates most of the industry groups are moving towards higher standards.

"The codes provide a lot of context around the minimum standards, in other words they explain the rationale for them and that helps people work out the best way to comply with them".

Mr Hellstrom says he hopes they end up with a mix of both regulations and codes.