Australian state parliament conducts inquiry about use of animals in research-your views are needed!

February 28th 2022

In news from Down Under, the parliament of New South Wales (Australia’s most populous state) has called for an “Inquiry into the use of primates and other animals in medical research in New South Wales”.  The inquiry is being run by the Health portfolio of the upper house (Legislative Council; equivalent to a Senate), and seeks submissions on the following topics:

  1. the nature, purpose and effectiveness of medical research being conducted on animals in New South Wales, and the potential public health risks and benefits posed by this research;
  2. the costs associated with animal research, and the extent to which the New South Wales and Federal Government is commissioning and funding the importing, breeding and use of animals in medical research in New South Wales;
  3. the availability, effectiveness and funding for alternative approaches to animal research methods and technologies, and the ability of researchers to meet the 3 R’s of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement;
  4. the ethical and animal welfare issues surrounding the importing, breeding and use of animals in medical research;
  5. the adequacy of the current regulatory regime regarding the use of animals in medical research, particularly in relation to transparency and accountability;
  6. overseas developments regarding the regulation and use of animals in medical research;

The committee responsible for this inquiry is notable for its composition, which includes 2 of the 5 Legislative Council members of the Green Party, and the sole member of the Animal Justice Party, among its 8 members. The member for the Animal Justice Party is also the Deputy Chair. The Legislative council has 42 members.

Speaking of Research has repeatedly highlighted the importance of research using animals, including non-human primates, and the fact that there are at the moment no in vitro alternatives to conduct vital research that is relevant for human and animal health – as highlighted here, here and here. We also commented on the risks of countries which have well developed animal welfare standards, such as Australia, divesting from animal-based research (e.g., here)..

Given this, we would like to encourage our readers to send personal submissions, as well as submissions on behalf of their societies and research institutes, to ensure that the committee’s report presents a realistic view. The contents of the report may trigger a call for legislation. Potential changes in the legislation of Australia’s most populous state would be influential in prompting changes at the national level, and could have international consequences.

Submissions can be made through the following web site (HERE)

Submissions do not need to be long. An email that addresses some, or all of the points if inquiry, would be sufficient. It is important that well-argued views based on scientific evidence are presented. The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2022.

Below is a series of links of SR articles which can help:

Sign onto open letter denouncing EPA decision on animal research 
Animal Testing and Human Trials: Alternatives or Complements?
All in a day’s work: Scientists promote alternatives
Do “Alternatives” Exist?
The Economist sounds the alarm on the consequences of divesting from non-human primate research