The Victorian State Government in Australia has created an opportunity to right past legislative and regulatory wrongs.
Examples of those wrongs are exemptions to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA) in favour of the livestock sector.
If the legislature exempts certain practices from laws and regulations designed to prevent cruelty, then by definition, it is permitting cruelty.
That is despite political doublespeak to the contrary.
The livestock sector is currently permitted to perform extreme acts of cruelty on animals it is using as products. Those acts include (but are certainly not limited to): many forms of mutilation without anaesthetic; lifelong confinement indoors; sexual abuse of males and females, euphemistically referred to as "artificial insemination".
Our elected representatives are expected to create conditions that ensure justice for all. A key anomaly at present is that "production" animals are excluded from that arrangement.
Why is such an approach considered acceptable when those animals experience physical and emotional pain in the same way as human members of society and companion animals?
The opportunity the government has created for itself is in the form of its five-year Draft Action Plan, with the title “Improving the Welfare of Animals in Victoria”.
Within the draft plan, the government has declared that we must protect animals, including those on farms, from cruelty.
In making that statement, it has created more than an opportunity; it has created an obligation.
The government should fulfill that obligation by removing exemptions to POCTAA, thereby preventing the livestock sector from continuing its barbaric practices.
Sale of products prepared by cruel means outside the state should also be prohibited.
A community education campaign could highlight the benefits in terms of justice, and inform consumers of the wide array of delicious, cruelty-free products that can easily satisfy their nutritional requirements.
Given entrenched practices, the process may be challenging, but those whom we elect should not expect an easy ride.
If the government does not have the courage to implement legislative changes that reflect its own statements, then it must inform the community through public relations and advertising of the horrors many are responsible for through their purchasing decisions. It must also mandate product labeling that reflects the current reality.
Each day in which honest and open discussion is delayed, more animals are born into lives of almost unimaginable cruelty.
Do we want to live in a civilised society or not? The choice is ours.
Image: Aussie Farms | aussiepigs.com | Reported to be from Yelmah Piggery, South Australia | 2016
Related Material: Submission in Response to Victorian State Government’s Draft Action Plan 2016-2021 “Improving the Welfare of Animals in Victoria”