The Science Party is committed to encouraging the protection of animal welfare and adopts a utilitarian approach that attempts to minimise the total suffering of sentient beings.
1. Animals in research
1.1. Policy: Support for the use of animals for scientific and research purposes, according to the principles and practices outlined in the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes released by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
1.2. Discussion: The Science Party supports the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, in order to minimise the number of animals used and to minimise the suffering of those animals.
2. In vitro meat
2.1. Policy: Support for investment by the CSIRO into the further exploration and development of in vitro meat technologies to make this a reality. We also support investment into plant-based alternatives to animal products.
2.2. Discussion: The Science Party views in vitro meat production as a technology with great potential. If researched and investigated effectively, the technology has the potential to reduce the price of meat and make it essentially cruelty-free.
3. Independent Office for Animal Welfare
3.1. Policy: Create an independent office for animal welfare.
3.2. Discussion: An independent office for animal welfare will regularly review Australian animal welfare conditions and submit a report suggesting legislative changes to address welfare issues. The office will also review and monitor the animal welfare standards implemented by the nations Australia enters into live export agreements with.
4. Live export restrictions
4.1. Policy: We are open to phasing out live export of livestock completely, and hold the following policies:
- End export to countries whose animal welfare standards have not been approved by independent Australian regulators;
- Immediately lower the reportable mortality threshold for all live export voyages to 0.5%;
- Set strict standards beyond simple mortality for the health of animals in live export, in consultation with relevant animal health experts (as recommended by the McCarthy Review, 2018);
- Ensure consequences for repeat offenders in the live export trade, for example a three-strike system where:
- The first offence attracts increased oversight;
- The second offence leads to a suspension from live export activity; and
- The third offence is cause for a permanent ban on live export activity.
4.2. Discussion: We believe the heavily documented accounts of animal suffering justify an end to the current system of live export, and necessitate substantive changes if it is to continue.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources currently accepts mortality rates for export voyages of between 0.5% and 2% ('Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock' p.107). The Science Party sees mortality rates above 0.5% as cause for concern in all cases. It is worth noting that Australia exports thousands of animals for consumption every month by air, with very low mortality rates.
The ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System) introduced in 2011 fails to appropriately cater to animal welfare, and doesn't mandate pre-slaughter stunning that is required in Australian slaughterhouses.
5. End battery cages and sow stalls
5.1. Policy: Ban, nation-wide:
- Battery cages (caged environments measuring at or below 30cm x 21cm x 40cm) used in egg production; and
- Gestation crates (very restrictive caging for pregnant sows) in pig farming.
5.2. Discussion: The practices employed on modern battery farms place excessive stress and suffering upon the animal, and are not necessary for relatively low-cost production that can be achieved through barn-raised egg production. Battery cages and sow gestation crates have already been outlawed in the ACT, gestation crates banned in Tasmania, and the duration of time in gestation crates limited to six weeks nationwide.
The Australian pork industry committed to a voluntary phase-out of gestation crates by 2017, and legislation restricts the time in the stall to a six-week period. Currently, 20% of Australia's sows are placed in sow stalls during pregnancy. Battery cages and gestation crate bans should be expanded nationwide to end their use completely.
Farrowing stalls are often used in pig farming to protect piglets from being crushed by their mother until they are weaned. The Science Party supports research into solutions that protect piglets while also allowing sows freedom of movement and to display more natural behaviours.
6. Food Labelling
6.1. Policy: Ensure honest labelling of animal products, particularly optional tiered label certifications that clearly define the animal welfare standards involved in free-range production.
6.2. Discussion: Current labelling methods do not consistently inform consumer choice when purchasing animal products. Regarding chicken egg production, we support optional free-range certification that maintains a minimum standard of conditions that promote the animal's safety, and behavioural and physiological needs. Higher tiers of free-range certification should be defined, based on higher standards of animal welfare. Clear and distinct authorised labelling should be made available for producers who meet each tier.
7. Animals in Racing
- Suspend greyhound racing; and
- Ban horse jumps racing nation-wide.
7.2. Discussion: The Science Party supports stronger regulatory standards in regards to the use of animals in greyhound racing and the temporary suspension of the industry until welfare concerns (particularly issues of live baiting) can be addressed.
We support the nationwide extension of bans on jumps racing which are currently in place in Queensland and NSW. The industry exposes horses to unreasonable levels of risk by encouraging dangerous jumps at high speeds over long distances, resulting in serious injury and numerous fatalities annually. This policy will not affect flat horse racing or any other equestrian events.