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Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015

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2013-2014-2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of Senator Rhiannon)

Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015

 

OUTLINE

The Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2015 provides for the establishment of a Commonwealth statutory authority with responsibility for advising upon the protection of animal welfare in Commonwealth regulated activities.

The Bill establishes the Office of Animal Welfare as an independent statutory authority. The Office will assist the CEO in his or her functions which will include the review and monitoring of live export standards and the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, reporting on animal welfare issues that impact the Commonwealth, reporting on the work of animal welfare committees and reviewing animal welfare laws and policy that impact the Commonwealth.

To assist the Office in performing these duties to the best possible standard, the CEO will also be assisted by the Office of Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. The Committee’s members will consist of representatives of animal welfare organisations, consumer groups, scientists and ethicists specialising in animal welfare issues, the Department and commercial producers or purchasers of animals or animal products.

The CEO will provide reports to the Minister with recommendations which must be tabled in Parliament. The Minister will be required to respond to any recommendations made in the reports, and to table the response in Parliament.

These reports could include proposing reforms to animal welfare legislation and standards and advising the Commonwealth on harmonisation of animal welfare laws of the Commonwealth, States and Territories.

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Part 1 - Preliminary

Clause 1 - Short Title

This clause is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Bill.

Clause 2 - Commencement

This clause provides for the commencement of the Act.

Clause 3 - Definitions

This clause provides definitions for key terms in the Act.

Clause 4 - Crown to be bound

This clause provides that the Act binds the Crown in each of its capacities.



Part 2 - Office of Animal Welfare

Clause 5 - Establishment

This clause provides for the establishment of the Office of Animal Welfare.

Clause 6 - Constitution

This clause provides that the Office consists of the CEO and staff.

Clause 7 - Functions

This clause provides that the Office’s function is to assist the CEO to perform his or her functions.

Clause 8 - Office has privileges and immunities of the Crown

This clause provides that the Office has the privileges and immunities of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth.

Part 3 - Chief Executive Officer, staff and consultants

Clause 9 - Functions of the CEO

This clause provides that the CEO’s functions are the Livestock Standards functions, Reporting functions and the Department Review functions. Each of these functions is defined in more detail in clause 9.

The Livestock Standards functions involve the CEO reviewing and monitoring the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, and undertaking inquiries and preparing reports about these matters.

The reporting functions involve the CEO making the Office a Centre of Excellence for the collection and dissemination of information about animal welfare issues that impact the Commonwealth.

They also involve developing an Australian Animal Welfare Strategy to provide a national framework to identify priorities, coordinate stakeholder action and improve consistency across all animal use sectors; undertaking inquiries, commissioning research and preparing reports the following issues: protecting and promoting animal welfare in the export of live animals; the effectiveness of Commonwealth laws that apply to the export of live animals; sustainability and animal welfare issues that arise in respect of  killing kangaroos for commercial purposes; the Commonwealth’s animal welfare policy; scientific and legal issues and potential animal welfare issues that arise in respect of the Commonwealth’s animal welfare policy; the importation of animals and animal products; management of animal species introduced into Australia; the possible harmonisation of animal welfare laws of the Commonwealth, States and Territories; animal welfare issues that arise in respect of Model Codes of Practice for the welfare of animals; and considering academic and scientific research relevant to any of these issues.

The CEO is also responsible for undertaking inquiries and preparing reports about the activities and effectiveness of the Live Export Advisory Group and the Office of Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

The CEO has Department Review functions which involve considering the activities of the Department that relate to monitoring compliance with the Commonwealth’s animal welfare laws; the enforcement and the effectiveness of these laws.. The CEO is also responsible for considering the effectiveness of the Department’s implementation of the Commonwealth’s animal welfare policy. The CEO also has the function of undertaking inquiries and preparing reports as a result of these Department Review functions.

The CEO has the power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of his or her functions.

Clause 10 - Minister may give directions to the CEO

This clause provides that the Minister may direct the CEO about the performance of his or her functions and that the CEO must comply with these instructions.

Clauses 11 to 13

These clauses provide rules about the appointment of the CEO, the term of their appointment and arrangements for Acting CEOs.

Clauses 14 to 20

These clauses provide rules about the CEO’s remuneration and allowances, leave entitlements, outside employment, disclosure of interests, other terms and conditions, resignation and termination of appointment.

Clauses 21 to 23

These clauses provide for the appointment of staff, persons to assist the CEO and consultants.

Part 4 - Office of Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

Clauses 24 to 28

These clauses provide for the establishment of the Office of Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, to advise the CEO in relation to his or her functions. The membership of the Committee is made up of the CEO and a specified number of representatives of non-government animal welfare organisations, consumer groups, scientists and ethicists specialising in animal welfare issues, the Department, commercial producers or purchasers of animals or animal products and not more than 2 other persons that the CEO considers appropriate.

The clauses also determine how the Committee’s procedures will be managed and rules about the disclosure of the interests of the Committee members.

Part 5 - Miscellaneous

Clause 29

This clause provides for the production of an annual report and tabling in Parliament.



Clause 30

This provides for the preparation of reports by the CEO on matters relating to his or her functions and the provision of those reports to the Minister for tabling in Parliament with the Minister’s written response to recommendations made in those reports.

Clause 31 - Delegation by the CEO

This provides for the delegation of the CEO’s functions and powers to staff.



Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2013

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Bill

The Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill 2013 establishes a Commonwealth statutory authority with responsibility for protecting animal welfare in Commonwealth regulated activities.

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.  It does not remove the right to work, as it seeks only to improve the welfare of animals within animal use industries.

Animals are sentient beings but as yet do not enjoy rights comparable to human rights. 

This Bill fulfils humanity’s responsibility to protect and defend the rights of animals to live a life free of cruelty and suffering.

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator Lee Rhiannon