Re-elected Labor ‘would crack down on animal testing’

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Dan Harrison

Dan Harrison

Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.Health Minister Tanya Plibersek. Photo: Rohan Thomson

A re-elected Labor government would phase out the sale of cosmetics which have been tested on animals, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek will announce on Thursday.

Ms Plibersek will commit to a national consultation on ending the importation, manufacture, sale and advertising of cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients which have undergone animal testing.

Testing products on animals is not banned in Australia, but industry says it stopped many years ago. However products that have been tested on animals overseas, or which contain ingredients that have been tested on animals overseas, are on sale in Australia.

“Most Australians would be surprised to learn that some companies test their cosmetics or their ingredients on animals overseas, before selling them here,” Ms Plibersek said.


“And some companies manufacture cosmetics in Australia using ingredients tested on animals overseas, even though the finished cosmetic products are not tested on animals domestically.

“Animals shouldn’t suffer in the quest for better mascara or lipstick,” she said.

RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil welcomed the promise and urged all political parties to match it.

“This important step will mean Australian consumers will no longer be contributing to the unjustifiable use of animals in the development of cosmetics and toiletries. There are more than enough ingredients already developed for these products – and no need to subject any more animals to distressing and painful tests just to allow cosmetic companies to market ‘new and improved’ product lines on Australian shelves,” Ms Neil said.

But Ms Neil said more should be done to reduce the use of animals in research and testing more broadly.

“Between 4 and 5 million animals are used for scientific and educational purposes in Australia every year, yet there is currently no dedicated government funding for developing alternatives to animals,” she said.

“The RSPCA believes that Australia urgently needs a national, coordinated approach to reduce animal use and to investigate, develop and validate alternatives to animals in research and testing.”

Ms Plibersek said allowing the importation of products which have been tested on animals was “out of step with current community expectations”.

She said the European Union phased out products tested on animals over a ten-year period.

“I believe Australia needs to play its part in the international movement against animal testing,” she said.

Ms Plibersek said she would also consult on whether a ban on animal testing in Australia was necessary.

Each state and territory is responsible for its own animal welfare legislation. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has charged Ms Plibersek with leading the national effort because as Health Minister she has responsibility for national cosmetics regulation, and because she has a personal interest in the issue.

Ms Plibersek said she would work with Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, Trade Minister Richard Marles and the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on the issue.

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