Labor's Position on Key Issues

My Commitment to Prioritise Animal Welfare

March 15, 2019

Labor understands the importance of animal welfare and has held consultation meetings with the RSPCA with respect to our animal welfare policies.


When Labor was last in government, the Commonwealth, states and territories cooperated on animal welfare and primary industry issues through a range of official forums. Labor put in place a comprehensive animal welfare strategy and took a lead role in coordinating this through the Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI). Labor appointed an interim Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports in September of 2013. 


Unfortunately, the new Coalition Government did not proceed with the legislation necessary to make the position permanent. Further, the Liberal/National Party Government abolished both the Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the SCoPI. 


Former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce took a wrecking ball approach to the regulatory process and shocking events like the Awassi Express incident were to be expected. There is a vacuum of leadership and direction when it comes to protecting and improving animal welfare in this country. 

I am proud Labor has committed to the phase-out of the live sheep export trade which has demonstrably failed to demonstrate it is able to meet neither scientific nor community animal welfare standards. Labor’s policy is to put an end to the northern summer trade at the first opportunity and phase out the balance of trade while helping sheep meat producers make the transition to more domestic processing.  A Shorten Labor Government will deliver on that commitment.

Cosmetic testing on animals is cruel and unnecessary. Almost 40 countries have already banned cosmetic testing or are in the process of doing so.  Labor supports the ban and in 2016 introduced its own Ethical Cosmetics Bill that created an offence for testing cosmetics on animals within Australia or importing new cosmetics that have been tested on animals.


The Government’s legislation to ban animal testing for cosmetic purposes only passed when the Government agreed to measures to address Labor’s concerns about loopholes in the legislation which we flagged in 2017.  Be assured Labor will closely monitor the implementation of the ban to ensure it works as intended.  


Labor believes all animals should be treated with the highest animal welfare standards and we will work to achieve better animal welfare and consistent application and enforcement of animal protection statutes by harmonising relevant federal, state and territory laws and codes.


At the 2018 National Labor Conference, Labor made a commitment to:

  • Establish an independent office of animal welfare;
  • Phase out cosmetic testing on animals or on products used in the production of cosmetics; and
  • Oppose any ‘Ag-gag’ legislation.