After a 12-month wait punctuated by excuses and grandiose statements in the Parliament by the Attorney General, Minister for Agriculture and Premier, The Nationals WA have slammed the Labor Government’s approach to deterring trespass and harassment by animal activists.
Leader Mia Davies said the Attorney General had talked the big talk in Parliament last March in response to questions and debates raised by her team, but had ultimately failed to live up to his promises.
“The Attorney General was scathing of The Nationals WA suggestion a short, sharp Parliamentary inquiry be held to garner feedback from stakeholders and consult with industry on this key issue,” Ms Davies said.
“He said that he’d have it done and in the Parliament by November 21 and now 12 months later we have further delays as the Government invite public submissions on the consultation draft of the Animal Welfare and Trespass Legislation Amendment Bill 2020.
“What exactly have they been doing for the past 12 months if they’re only opening the lines of communication up for consultation now?”
Ms Davies said the draft bill was a mashed up piece of legislation that made no sense because the Government was trying to manage competing views on animal welfare within Labor ranks.
“The Attorney General’s promise to deliver tougher penalties to deter criminal activists has been hijacked by the Minister for Agriculture,” Ms Davies said.
“The bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is legislation aimed at increasing inspection powers while masquerading as being tough on criminal activists,” Ms Davies said.
“No-one has forgotten Alannah MacTiernan standing shoulder to shoulder on Fremantle Bridge with the anti-live export activists and it is clear she has had an influence on this bill.”
Nationals spokesperson for Agricultural Hon Colin de Grussa said rather than bringing forward a bill that addressed the ongoing threat of activists, the Government had taken more than a year to come up with some changes to the Criminal Code and added this to a proposal for designated inspector generals with increased powers to enter properties.
“The Minister for Agriculture failed to garner support for Designated Inspector Generals during the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill in 2018 and is now bizarrely having another go,” he said.
“The majority of a parliamentary committee found there was no evidence inspectors needed any extra powers to ensure compliance under the existing legislation.”
He said it was immensely frustrating for those who are being targeted and harassed to have been left to fend for themselves because the Labor Government had no commitment to genuinely solving the issue.