THE Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is encouraging Gippslanders to provide feedback on the state government’s proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act.

The proposed changes would impact livestock farming, hunting, fishing and ownership of domestic animals, Ms Bath said.

Submissions will help inform the government on proposed changes to its review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA).

“The Andrews’ government’s agenda is to legally recognise animal sentience and increase animal husbandry red tape which will have an impact on Victorian farmers,” Ms Bath said.

“The Nationals will always support common sense improvement to animal welfare, however, any changes to the POCTA must be reasonable and workable, and not pander to activists’ agenda.

“The Victorian agriculture industry has faced enormous pressure over recent years due to animal activism.

“Our farmers’ livelihood depends on their stock receiving proper care, maintenance and living free from disease. It is important we support the agriculture industry instead of building barriers.”

Ms Bath was concerned over the use of the words ‘normalised behaviour’ in respect to the government’s review of POCTA.

“As farm animals and household pets have been domesticated over many thousands of years, the context of the word normal is very difficult to define.

“The Nationals do not want any protections built into any new legislation that would provide motivation for animal activists to illegally invade farms, restrict livestock farming or place onerous restrictions on responsible pet ownership, recreational hunting or fishing.

“Gippslanders need to be aware this Act is being revisited and reviewed with changes which will significantly impact regional Victorians.

“It is important to have the opportunity to have your say to ensure Labor delivers fair and balanced changes to animal welfare legislation.”

Information on the new Act and feedback can be provided by completing a survey or making a submission at engage.vic.gov.au.

Public consultation is open with submissions being accepted until December 14, 2020.

You can also have your say through Melina Bath by visiting vic.nationals.org.au/poctareview.