The Voice for Animals (Independent Office of Animal Welfare) Bill would set up a statutory authority to monitor the welfare of animals in the live export trade, and recommend improvements to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System. It would also act as a centre of excellence for animal welfare science, and work to harmonise and improve animal welfare laws across the country.
The Australian Labor Party has claimed for some time that it has been working on a model for the proposed Office of Animal Welfare, but Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said that Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig had been "sitting on his hands" over the issue.
Australian Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon, who will introduce the bill at the next sitting of the Senate, said that it was "disappointing" that the Labor Party had not introduced the legislation itself.
"Creating an independent animal rights champion is an important step towards changing the culture within government and the factory farming industry," she said.
"The public rightly expects that profits will not be put before the humane treatment of animals. Australia is dragging the chain internationally on animal welfare-motivated regulatory reform and this office will elevate the need for change."
Pointing out that the bill mirrored Labor Party policy, she added that it would be a "betrayal" if Labor voted against the bill with the opposition Coalition party.
"Costings by the Parliamentary Budget Office show setting up the office would be virtually cost-neutral, at AU$0.5m in 2013/2014," she said. "Now the bill is before Parliament, Labor has no excuse for not getting behind the initiative except for a lack of political will."