The VFF has called on RSPCA Victoria to fully commit to ending campaigning and use its influence to convince the national branch to do the same, following a parliamentary inquiry.
A nine-person, bi-partisan Victorian Legislative Council committee tabled a report into the RSPCA last week, recommending greater transparency around funding and campaigning.
The committee also recommended that RSPCA Victoria ensure that it investigates cruelty to commercial animals in emergency situations only.
RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Liz Walker said the organisation would implement the recommendations.
‘‘RSPCA Victoria will work with the Victorian Government to implement each of the three recommendations, while also continuing our progress in implementing the recommendations from last year’s Independent Review of the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate,’’ Dr Walker said.
VFF president David Jochinke wants more to be done.
‘‘RSPCA Victoria has made a clear commitment to stop campaigning, but unless it washes itself of any connection to activism at both state and national levels, the perception will be that it is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing, masking its campaigns behind the activities of a powerful national body,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘There is a clear conflict of interest when RSPCA Victoria has a memorandum of understanding with the State Government to regulate animal welfare laws for farms while RSPCA Australia is actively campaigning against farming practices.’’
Committee chair Bernie Finn said objections raised by stakeholders in relation to RSPCA Victoria largely related to the organisation’s historical practices.
‘‘For example, the organisation has in the past been involved in animal rights activism, in some instances campaigning against activities that are legal in Victoria, such as duck shooting,’’ he said.
‘‘Some stakeholders suggested that RSPCA Victoria inspectors were involved in campaigns and action relating to commercial animals, overstepping their statutory function.’’
Mr Jochinke said stronger action from the RSPCA was needed to gain farmers’ trust, pointing the finger at RSPCA’s ‘‘media machine’’ for making their jobs ‘‘complicated’’ and condemning normal animal welfare processes.
‘‘If RSPCA Victoria wants to end its campaigning and repair relationships with farmers, we need real assurance that this behaviour is going to change at all levels, and that there is no potential for RSPCA Victoria to use RSPCA Australia to attack farm practices,’’ he said.
‘‘The fact that the report doesn’t recommend any pathway to change suggests we are dealing with a perfect system, but that is not what we said in our feedback and it is not representative of farmers’ experience.’’
■To read the full report, visit: www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic/article/3133