The Sydney based Animal Liberation animal rights organisation has slammed the NSW Government's response following recommendations put forward by the NSW Select Committee on Animal Cruelty Laws in New South Wales, despite the RSPCA welcoming it.
The government's response to the inquiry report was handed down by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall earlier this month.
The committee was established in August 2019 to inquire and report on the effectiveness of arrangements for the administration and enforcement of the laws of New South Wales for the protection of animals from cruelty.
Animal Liberation's regional campaign coordinator Lisa Ryan described Mr Marshall's response as 'peripheral and meaningless window dressing' and accused Mr Marshall of 'playing with the lives of animals' and ignoring public views about the 'urgent need' for priority to be given to animal welfare.
"The public responded strongly to this Select Committee and the large majority of submissions called for extensive changes including greater independence and transparency with the enforcement and regulation of the state's animal cruelty laws," Ms Ryan said.
"Like many, Animal Liberation supported many of the bipartisan committee's recommendations and we are appalled that Mr Marshall has not only ignored his own government committee's report, he has made a mockery of those who invested considerable time and expertise into lodging submissions to the Inquiry - basically saying 'have a public say but we will ignore you if we disagree'."
When contacted by The Express Mr Marshall said animal welfare was something close to his heart and that he took it incredibly seriously.
"This is why I recently announced a state-wide crackdown on illegal puppy factories, with extra resources for compliance action and why I've announced that I'll be introducing into Parliament legislation to bring about the toughest suite of penalties for animal welfare abuses in Australia," he said.
"There will be nowhere to hide for any person who is negligent or wilfully harming an animal, including fines in the tens of thousands of dollars and more goal time. As it should be."
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However Mr Marshall's crusade against the perpetrators of animal cruelty does not impress Ms Ryan or the Animal Liberation group she says.
"In all Mr Marshall's self-styled media hype he has continued to roll out animal welfare related announcements about funding, with an apparent and blatant disregard to simultaneously undermining the findings and recommendations of the Animal Cruelty Laws Select Committee," Ms Ryan said.
"Mr Marshall was equally ineffective and disappointing in his role as Chair on the 2015 NSW Joint Select Committee on Companion animal breeding practices in NSW and which was ironically convened after the notorious expose in his own electorate.
"Here we are five years later and nothing has changed - the same puppy factory has continued to 'legally' operate under the nose of Mr Marshall, his government and the relevant authorities and has again been raided with the owner again appearing in the Inverell Court recently on 26 new charges.
"Mr Marshall promised the NSW public he would shut this hellhole down and he hasn't."
Many of the recommendations of the Animal Cruelty Laws Select Committee are already under investigation as part of the Animal Welfare Action Plan said Mr Marshall.
"This will ensure we have the best legislative framework in place to support animal welfare," he said. "NSW has one of the most robust frameworks for animal welfare including not one, but three separate enforcement agencies, all of which work arms-length from Government."
However the system is completely broken Ms Ryan says.
"Australians are frustrated and distressed by the inadequacy and inconsistency of our animal cruelty laws, the performance of the authorised agencies, and the outcomes delivered by our courts," she said.
"Animal cruelty is a crime and similar to all other criminal prosecutions, should be undertaken by those most experienced, best equipped and best resourced to investigate and prosecute criminal matters.
"In no other circumstances is a charitable organisation such as the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League relied on to achieve the objects of a criminal Act."
The inquiry recommended the establishment of an Independent Office of Animal Protection (IOAP) but this was not supported by the NSW Government.
Other recommendations not supported were the establishment of a specialist animal cruelty investigative unit within NSW Police; moving responsibility for animal welfare matters out of the Department of Primary Industries; and the conducting of an annual parliamentary public hearing into the charities and government departments responsible for enforcing anti-cruelty laws.
"The public are fed up with distressing and abhorrent cruelty and exploitation towards all animals; companion, native, introduced and farm animals exploited and slaughtered for human consumption and by-products," Ms Ryan said.
Mr Marshall dismissed Ms Ryan's concerns and said groups like Animal Liberation have no interest in supporting farmers and pet owners in a fair and balanced way because they believe that most animal ownership, especially farming, should be shut down.
"The NSW Department of Primary Industries provides valuable support and research to the broader industry and is helping advance improved management systems across the animal sectors," he said.
"Animal Liberation attacking the department is proof that this is simply an attack on agriculture by the vigilante city-centric groups who are hell-bent on destroying agriculture and our way of life in rural areas - something I will never abide."
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NSW Upper House MP for the Animal Justice Party, Mark Pearson chaired the inquiry committee and said the state government has condemned millions of animal to needless suffering by rejecting the key findings.
"The government's rejection of this recommendation will impact millions of animals - from the blind, lame cows in feedlots to the abused dogs in the greyhound industry," Mr Pearson said
"The RSPCA currently successfully prosecutes less than one percent of complaints they receive, and that tells you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of having under-resourced charities enforce animal cruelty laws."
Mr Pearson said another issue raised during the inquiry was the inherent conflict of interest in having the same government department responsible for both animal welfare and the use of animals for agricultural production purposes.
"It's this conflict of interest that ensures the slaughter of bobby calves, the shredding of day-old chicks, and the invasive procedures done without pain relief is routine industry practice," he said.
"This is the status quo that will continue without an overhaul of the entire animal welfare framework, and it's the status quo we know the community does not accept."
RSPCA NSW welcomed the NSW Government's response which included possible increases to penalties for animal cruelty offences, increases to funding and resources for RSPCA NSW, and developing an education program to improve animal welfare outcomes.
RSPCA NSW CEO, Steve Coleman, said they were encouraged by the recommendations.
"We welcome the recommendations made which we hope will build on the special skills, strengths and expertise our Inspectorate has developed over the last 90 years," he said.