I have a long standing commitment to improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. Inevitably, this has led me to call for improvements to how we protect the most powerless and dependent creatures – the animals that share our homes and our lives.
In my 12 years as an elected member of the WA parliament I have continued to challenge the status quo seeking improvements in how our law-makers, industry and individuals care for companion, livestock and wild animals.
I'm pleased that if WA Labor is re-elected in Mach 2021, we will release a green paper to the community outlining improvements we want to make to the modernise the WA Animal Welfare Act 2002. We will recognise sentience in animals, shift the emphasis of the Act from responding to cruelty to preventing it happening, increase the powers of qualified inspectors, and much more.
Since the McGowan Labor government was elected in 2017, I have invited more than 250 rescue and rehoming groups to the WA Parliament to showcase the work of volunteers and staff who, every day, strive to save the lives of animals. Their work is extremely difficult and I believe that their efforts should be recognised and celebrated.
I'm very proud that WA Labor has announced we will establish a $2million Animal Welfare Grants Program that will be open to rescue and rehoming groups to apply for grants in support of all the work they do saving and finding homes for animals.
While finding time to celebrate is important, behind the scenes I continue to work across ministerial portfolios to change the laws and improve animal welfare outcomes.
Over the last four years the McGowan government has pursued the following improvements;
- Introduced the Stop Puppy Farming legislation and successfully passed it through the WA Legislative Assembly,
- Drafted amendments to the WA Dog Act to remove the requirement for retired greyhounds to wear muzzles in public,
- Passed legislation to allow WA to adopt national animal welfare standards,
- Reviewed of the effect of recent amendments made to the WA Dog and Cat Acts,
- Pursued improvements to the welfare and safety of animals involved in racing industry including greyhounds, standards and thoroughbred horses.
- Introduced the Animal Welfare and Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 to strengthen the capacity of qualified animal welfare inspectors to do their job while strengthening protection from illegal trespass on farms.
All the improvements that the McGowan government has sought to make to laws that protect animals have been opposed or blocked by the WA Liberal and WA National Parties.
At the end of 2020 the Premier and I spoke at a vigil to remember Strawberry, the 15 month old Boxer puppy who was bred to her death in a puppy farm. Strawberry’s puppies were then sold by a WA pet shop. Given the facts about this appalling industry, it’s hard to understand why the liberal and national party chose to block our Stop Puppy Farming legislation.
The work I do to raise these issues is supported by the vast majority of Western Australians. There is still so much more to be done.
Whether as a companion, a farm animal or a wild animal, the care and well being of all animals is matter of importance to Western Australians.
I think I have shown that after 12 years of work, I will never back down or walk away from my commitment to improving the lives of animals in this state.
On Sunday 24th January 2021, the WA Premier, Mark McGowan announced WA Labor’s commitments to animal welfare if we are returned to government at the March 2021 election;
- Establish a new $2 million Community Animal Welfare Small Grants program, to better support hardworking groups who rescue and re-home animals.
- Re-introduce Stop Puppy Farming laws to Parliament, after they were blocked in the Upper House.
- Establish an Animal Welfare Advisory Committee that reports to the Minister to advise on matters relating to animals in any context ranging from companion animals, to livestock, to pest animals, to animals used in research.
- Double funding for the RSPCA to help increase inspectorate services.
Provide an extra $250,000 to the RSPCA for a pet sterilisation pilot program for WA concession card holders.
- Draft a new Animal Welfare Act to deliver a modern act that positively promotes animal welfare.
- Provide Guide Dogs WA with $5 million to set up a world class breeding program at multiple locations across the state.