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Labor moves to end puppy factories in NSW

In a policy written with the assistance of animal protection organisation Oscar's Law, NSW Labor have agreed to a ten point plan to protect animals in the State. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.

ON SATURDAY, Labor launched its policy on animal welfare, although unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of a busy election campaign, it appeared to get lost in all the noise about Mike Baird and the Liberal Party’s power privatisation plan that appears to get shadier by the minute.

The policy Labor has launched is perhaps the most comprehensive animal welfare policy that NSW – and perhaps the nation – has ever seen from any of the major political parties.

The 10 point policy outline is available via this link: NSW Labor Animal Welfare Policy.

I'm sure some people will nitpick, however no other party that I am aware of has a policy that comes close in terms of covering the major issues in this portfolio.

The policy goes into many areas, such as the euthanasia of animals; a review of compliance arrangements; a toughening up of the laws around food labelling, on items such as eggs and meat; increased scrutiny of abattoirs; and the much talked about summit aimed at protecting koalas. The policy also goes into the protection of marine life, the expansion of National Parks as well as the abolition of hunting in these Parks. There is also measures to crackdown on wildlife crime and a $4 million package to assist voluntary carers.

Another animal welfare matter that has been in the news lately is the issue of live baiting in the greyhound racing industry. Labor’s Animal Welfare Policy not only backs the calls for an inquiry into the industry, it will ensure that the industry does benefit from Labor’s commitment to reforming racing industry taxes, potentially costing the industry millions of dollars if it does not cease the disgraceful live baiting practice.

Labor came under the attack from some lobby groups recently for policies it had been announced on these tax changes prior to a February ABC Four Corners report on the industry. 

It is fair to say that Labor is currently the only party that has a policy in place that will impact the industry in a major way if it does not fall into line with public standards.

It is clear that the pointing of fingers and shaking of heads along with the current penalties are not doing the job and Labor should be commended for taking a real stand, rather than just seeking to seize an opportunity to score cheap political points with slogans and manufactured outrage.

However, the part of the policy I wanted to focus on is one that I have been involved with, and that is the policy surrounding the disgraceful puppy farms — something readers will know I have covered before.

I have to say that, when I approached NSW Labor leader Luke Foley regarding puppy farming and the possibility of Labor having a policy on the matter not long after he became leader, I was personally impressed with his enthusiastic response. It was clear from the way his face lit up that this was something he was passionate about and it was something he saw the Labor Party leading the way in.

This issue was not something that Foley was content to release a blanket statement and slogan on and refer to that as policy. This had to be looked at in depth.

There had to be many aspects covered such as what actually constitutes a puppy farm. There are issues such as how many breeding dogs can be kept on a property, how many litters per bitch and the issue of selling animals in pet shops.

Luke Foley and Labor have come to the position that there be a maximum of ten breeding dogs per property and bitches be only subject to five litters in her lifetime. There has also been the decision to phase out the sale of puppies in pet stores. Currently the vast majority of pet stores do not carry live animals as stock at any rate, so the impact on the public and the price of pets will be insignificant, however the impact on puppy farmers will be catastrophic to their business model.

The position Luke Foley and Labor have taken has not come from thin air and the need to rush out a policy. This policy has come from lengthy consultation with those in the pet industry, animal activism organisations, the RSPCA and other stakeholders.

One stakeholder in particular, however, has been instrumental in the policies creation and also the creation of a similar policy for Victoria Labor which is already having a major impact on the puppy farm industry, which I should also point out operates outside the law and therefore pays no tax.

That stakeholder is Deborah Tranter of Oscar's Law. Deborah Tranter is arguably the country’s leading authority when it comes to this despicable trade in animal misery and mistreatment.

Deborah had this to say on the Labor Party policy:

Today’s policy announcement from Labor is testament to the hard work of our supporters and their campaigning that has raised awareness, lobbied and effectively pushed this issue onto the political agenda. At times it feels like we are definitely the underdog, with very little money and no paid staff. But what we do have are an amazing volunteer team and incredible dedicated supporters who have stood by us every step of the way

This policy will turn pet shops into adoption centres and rescue pets will now have much more exposure increasing their chances of finding a home. This effectively takes away one market of the puppy farmers. The ten dog limit also takes away the financial viability and will help shut down many of the terrible puppy factories we have uncovered in NSW. I am so pleased animals are well and truly on the political agenda in NSW.

Deborah worked tirelessly in her assistance with Jaala Pulford in putting the Victorian Labor policy together and that policy has been the framework for the NSW policy that was released on Saturday along with other animal welfare policies. Deborah made herself available to Luke Foley’s office for guidance and advice 24/7 during the policy's creation.

Even more impressive is that, as this policy was being created, Deborah was herself heavily involved in the investigation and exposure of some truly awful puppy farms in Northern NSW, much of the work being done throughout the night.

While I’m sure Deborah loves her work, it is something she would be thrilled to see come to an end if it means the puppy farm trade is shut down once and for all.

It is the hard work of people like Deborah and the policies of progressive political parties like the Labor Party that may see this finally occur.

I would like to congratulate Deborah Tranter and the whole team at Oscar's Law for pushing so hard on this issue, and take my hat off to Luke Foley and his team for putting together such a comprehensive policy.

This election voters have a clear choice, progressive policies or privatisation. Number all the boxes and put the Liberal Party last.

Peter Wicks is a Labor Party member and a former NSW ALP State candidate. You can read more by Peter at Wixxyleaks or follow him on Twitter @madwixxy. You can follow Oscar's Law on Twitter @OscarsLaw.

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