The Western Australian Government has proposed a ban on eggs laid by battery hens if the industry doesn’t make improvements to animal welfare.
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said WA should follow international examples and scrap battery cages.
The government has opposed a federal draft review of animal welfare standards for poultry, saying it did little to change rules for battery hens made more than two decades ago.
‘‘We think it’s time we followed New Zealand and the European Union and phasing out those battery cages, which are very small, slightly less than an A4 size,’’ Ms Mactiernan told ABC radio on Wednesday.
She said the guidelines failed to meet current community expectations and improved understanding of the science around animal welfare.
About 56 per cent of WA eggs can be classified as free range.
Opposition agriculture spokesperson Ian Blayney accused the government of arrogance in its failure to properly consult with industry before considering any changes.
‘‘I have been in discussions with industry and I am aware more than $50million has been invested improving the welfare of caged chickens,’’ Mr Blayney said.
‘‘It is quite obvious there is strong demand for cage eggs. Caged eggs are an affordable protein for many families.’’
The minister denied eggs would suddenly become unaffordable.