National Issues

National Framework For Animal Welfare In Australia

April 6, 2016

The Australian Government is committed to continuing to deliver good animal welfare outcomes in line with the Australian community’s expectations. The Animal Protection Index (API) released in 2014, does not appear to take into account the hard work and commitment by the Australian Government together with state and territory governments and the livestock industry in improving animal welfare outcomes.

The Australian Government’s core areas of responsibility in animal welfare are regulating live animal exports to deliver animal welfare outcomes in line with the expectations of the Australian community; and engaging on international animal welfare issues through its participation on the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Australia has been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of the work of the OIE, which plays an important role to improve international animal health, welfare and trade. Australia has provided leadership to the OIE through the Improved Animal Welfare Program (IAWP). The Australian funding through this program allowed the OIE to deliver train-the-trainer courses in countries importing livestock for slaughter from Australia. For more information on the project please see: http://animalwelfarestandards.org.

The states and territories have responsibility for animal welfare in Australia and along with industry need to be the driving force on animal welfare standards and reform. Our current level of support for the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy reflects the division of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments and removes unnecessary duplication of regulatory responsibility at the national level. I do not believe it will impact on animal welfare outcomes at either the state or national level.

Senator Lee Rhiannon introduced the Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015 into the Australian Senate on June 24, 2015. The Bill aimed to provide for the establishment of an Office of Animal Welfare as an independent Commonwealth statutory authority with responsibility for the protection of animal welfare in Commonwealth regulated activities.

The Senate referred the Bill to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The Committee released its report on October 15, 2015 and recommended the Bill not be passed.

The Australian Government is confident that the animal welfare arrangements implemented, monitored and enforced under state and territory government legislation will continue to achieve positive animal welfare outcomes.

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

March 15, 2016

As a region-wide free trade agreement, the TPP offers an opportunity to strengthen job-creating trade and investment, and further integrate Australia into the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region by pursuing common and liberalising policy outcomes.

The TPP Agreement will be unprecedented in its scale and level of ambition.  The 12 countries that have negotiated the TPP – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam – represent 25 percent of world trade and almost 40 per cent of the global economy – or around US$28 trillion. 

Benefits of the TPP will be broad-ranging; for Australian businesses – by creating more export opportunities in the Asia Pacific; for Australian consumers – by lowering the costs and increasing the variety of goods available in Australia; and for the Australian economy – by promoting economic growth in the Asia Pacific, further integrating Australia into the region, and creating a common platform for expanding trade into the 21st Century.

Once concluded the TPP will be the largest trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation, and represents the most significant restatement and enhancement of trade policy rules since the mid-1990s.  Once finalised, TPP membership will be open to other economies in the Asia Pacific to promote prosperity and strategic stability. 

The Australian Government is not intending to sign up to international agreements that would restrict Australia’s capacity to govern in our own interest – whether in the area of healthcare, the environment or any other regulated area of the economy. 

The trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China are already delivering real returns for our agriculture sector and we’re now working toward bilateral agreements with India and Indonesia—two important trading partners where demand for agricultural and food products is set to boom in the coming decades.

Contrary to some reported claims, the TPP negotiations are not secret.  The Australian Government made a public announcement about involvement in the TPP negotiations in late 2008 and has been carrying out domestic stakeholder consultations since that time. 

As is standard practice with the negotiation of international treaties, draft TPP negotiating texts are not public documents.  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has however, taken every opportunity to ensure that stakeholders have been adequately consulted and able to express their views.

The recent signing of the agreed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the next step forward towards advancing opportunities for Australian agriculture and food exporters in a landmark regional trade agreement covering some of the world’s largest economies.

In accordance with the government’s treaty-making process, once the TPP text is finalised it will be tabled in Parliament for 20 joint sitting days to facilitate public consultations and scrutiny by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) before any binding treaty action is taken. 

Once tabled, the treaty text and an accompanying National Interest Analysis will be published on the JSCOT website and in the online Australian Treaties Library. 

There will be an opportunity for full public and Parliamentary discussion prior to any agreement being ratified.

The government is concerned with misconceptions about the TPP which are being circulated and has produced a fact sheet addressing some of these myths.

Further details, including the benefits of the TPP are available on the department’s website, at: www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/tpp/

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