ACT News

Assembly poised to ban inhumane farm practices on animals

Keeping chickens in battery cages and pigs in sow stalls will attract fines under an Australia-first ban on factory farming to be passed by the ACT Assembly.

Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury will introduce the animal welfare bill on Thursday. It is expected to be supported by other government members under the Labor-Greens parliamentary agreement.

Minister for territory and municipal services, Shane Rattenbury.
Minister for territory and municipal services, Shane Rattenbury. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Mr Rattenbury, a Greens MLA, said people would no longer be able to keep hens in battery cages or debeak them. "Not only is this process painful and inhumane but it can also lead to other health complications which make it painful for the bird to eat,'' he said.

There would be a ban on keeping sows in stalls or farrowing crates where they were unable to stand, turn around or engage in natural behaviour.

The ACT now does not have any commercial battery egg production facilities or commercial piggeries.

Under a $7.5 million deal with the territory government, the owners of Parkwood Eggs in west Belconnen "destocked'' their facility of hens.

The site will eventually be converted to accommodate barn hens. The government bought a 24-hectare subdivision of the property in exchange for Pace Farm, owner of Parkwood Eggs, agreeing to make the changes by May 2016.

The ACT Greens had previously tried four times to ban battery hens in the territory but the major parties rejected the bids because, they argued, it would be impossible to stop Parkwood from moving over the border to NSW and importing eggs into the ACT.

Despite the ACT not having any battery hen farming and commercial piggeries, Mr Rattenbury said the new law was still worthwhile. "I think there's a value for business in being very clear about what our expectations and standards are in the ACT,'' he said. "It's easier to say now 'no we don't want it' than have somebody set one up and say 'we don't want it'.''

Mr Rattenbury hoped the factory farming ban would set a precedent other states and territories would follow. "There is clearly a distaste for some of the factory farming practices that are increasing coming to light,'' he said.

The Canberra Liberals were yet to consider the bill.

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