• Notice of Motion commending the tireless work of Anna Ludvik, founder of Lucy’s Project

    I recently attended the ‘Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence International Perspectives’ conference held in Sydney hosted by Lucy’s Project. I left so inspired by the great work Anna Ludvik and Lucy’s Project are doing to raise the awareness and educate about an area of domestic violence not often spoken about. To read more about Lucy’s Project please visit their website and like the Facebook page.

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    NOTICE OF MOTION

    1. That this House commends Anna Ludvik, founder of Lucy’s Project, for her work in raising awareness of the issue of animal abuse victims of domestic violence.
    2. That this House notes that at the recent ‘Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence International Perspectives’ conference held in Sydney hosted by Lucy’s Project international guest speaker, Allie Phillips from Sheltering Animals and Pets Together (SAF-T), USA, spoke about the bond between companion animals and human victims of domestic violence, citing the example of Hank, a Great Dane who shielded his female guardian McKenzie from a brutal attack by her
      partner, noting that:
      (a) Hank was honoured for his courage and bravery by the Humane Society of the United States receiving the Valor Dog of the Year and People’s Hero award at the Fifth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards,
      (b) Hank threw himself on top of McKenzie when her partner began attacking her with a hammer, in order to protect McKenzie from the blows,
      (c) the partner then began attacking Hank, beating the dog, throwing him from the porch by the neck,
      (d) McKenzie escaped and called the police who arrived to arrest the partner and found Hank still alive but suffering a broken hip and ribs,
      (e) McKenzie sought refuge at the Rose Brooks Center but when she learned she could not bring Hank with her, she refused to go until the Centre agreed to change its ‘no animals’ policy,
      (f) as a response to the story of Hank, the Rose Brooks Center shelter is building a wing that will house the companion animals of victims of domestic violence, and
      (g) Susan Miller, CEO of Rose Brooks Center, has said: ‘Families need to have a safe place to escape to, a place that welcomes the entire family including pets’.
    3. That this House acknowledges that many human victims of domestic violence are unable to leave abusive partners and seek safety due to the difficulty in finding emergency shelters or rental accommodation that provide housing for companion animals.
  • Mark Pearson makes formal complaint to the NSW Police regarding criminal activities in the Greyhound industry

    After a number of weeks of reading the Greyhound Racing NSW documents that were delivered to NSW Parliament under a Legislative Council Order for Papers, today I gave notice of a motion advising that I have sent a written complaint to the NSW Police about evidence of animal cruelty, illegal drug possession and administration to animals, race-fixing and money laundering. This is about more than “just a few bad apples’, this is about a systemic problem with criminality occurring throughout the whole of NSW wherever greyhound racing is taking place. l will be speaking more about this in my adjournment speech in parliament this afternoon.

    What is truly shocking is that the Labor Party, Nationals, Liberals, Christian Democrats and Shooters, Fishers & Farmers are wilfully ignoring the ugly truth of this vile industry- that the dogs are harmed, exploited and discarded with no thought about their welfare. But when the layer of animal cruelty is peeled away, we find criminal networks, substance abuse, race fixing and illegal gambling.

    It is undoubtedly clear that the animals are just like chips in a poker game, no more no less. They are a means to an end. But we will not stop in our fight for animals and in doing so we are exposing criminal underbellies that no civilised society should accept.

    NOTICE OF MOTION

    1. That this House notes that on 16 November 2016, The Hon Mark Pearson sent a letter to the NSW Police Force lodging a complaint about suspected serious criminal activities, including cruelty to animals, possession and administration of illegal substances including drugging greyhounds as well as the broader abuse of drugs within the greyhound racing industry, race-fixing and money-laundering in the greyhound racing industry.
    2. That this House notes that the complaint relates to information obtained from examination of non-privileged documents delivered to the Legislative Council on 12 October 2016 in response to the Order for Papers-Greyhound Welfare and Further Order as well as independent research resulting from reading those materials, which amongst other matters, discloses multiple instances of allegations of wrongdoing recorded and investigated Greyhound Racing NSW Inspectors.
    3. That the House encourages all members of parliament to view the privileged documents and the general public to view the non-privileged documents delivered to the Legislative Council in response to the Order for Papers-Greyhound Welfare and Further Order to see for themselves that the greyhound racing industry is riddled with criminality and animal cruelty and is beyond reform or redemption.
    4. That the House entreats the government to refrain from introducing a Bill to repeal the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Act 2016 pending the outcome of a police investigation into The Hon Mark Pearson’s complaint.

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  • Mark Pearson opposes and condemns the Crown Land Management Bill 2016 in his second reading speech

     

    The Animal Justice Party opposes the Crown Land Management Bill 2016. It attempts to strike down the sense of home and belonging that Australians have for this country. Home is not only the home they own or rent but almost half of the land in New South Wales that belongs to them. It belongs to the people of New South Wales. This bill will destroy the principle that Crown land belongs to the people of New South Wales. A previous member spoke of a child who wrote to the Queen and the Governor-General concerning the St Albans common illustrating the community connection with the land. Indigenous people feel the connection to land, life, being, culture and heritage.

    The Government and Minister are acting ultra vires, outside the power vested in the Minister and Government by the people of New South Wales. Crown land includes native wildlife corridors and stock routes that supply water and an abundance of nutrition for animals. Presently, the community can leave home and visit protected and sacred places within the ownership of the State. The Animal Justice Party admits that there are problems with the administration and protection of Crown land but this bill does not address that to ensure that Crown land is nourished and enriched. The bill does not reflect the principle that Crown land fosters a sense of heritage and connection. This bill will cause Crown land to become vulnerable to the whim and indiscretion of a manager that may or may not be appointed by the Minister for local government or by a council. There will be a lack of accountability.

    This bill goes against the very spirit of what this House should be doing to protect that sense of heritage and connection between the people of New South Wales, their sense of ownership, and their willingness and desire to ensure that their land is not vulnerable to the financial and other sinister interests that will emerge if this bill is passed without even one, two or three amendments. For all these reasons, and because of this fundamental principle, the Animal Justice Party refuses to support and condemns the bill.

  • Debate speech regarding the Catholic Church and its history of child abuse

    ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

    Earlier this year I gave notice of a Motion condemning the Roman Catholic Church for its failure to protect children from abuse. The motion was rejected by the Government and will now be debated by the House. Below is my opening speech, in which I lay out the reasons of why I have chosen to target the Catholic Church. The debate has be adjourned so as to allow other Members to prepare.

    Some my ask why have I chose to raise this issue as it doesn’t have anything to do with animals? Firstly, it is an issue deeply personal to my heart as you will hear in my speech. Secondly, it reflects one of the core principles of the Animal Justice Party, that is, protection of our most vulnerable and giving a voice to those that either don’t have one or it is a voice that is not being heard.

    This post will be updated as the debate progresses.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I move:

    (1) That this House condemns the Roman Catholic Church in Australia for its abject failure to protect children from sexual abuse by members of its clergy and leadership, who either:

    (a) sexually assaulted children whilst they were in their pastoral care; or

    ( b) by omission, caused ongoing and aggravated suffering to child victims by failing to intervene and report these crimes to police in New South Wales and Australia over the past five decades, as evidenced before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    (2) That this House conveys its utter disgust and profound disappointment in Cardinal George Pell for his ongoing failure to protect the innocent child victims of routine egregious sexual abuse who sought his help and assistance over many years.

    Members might wonder why a fellow member of the Legislative Council would call upon this House to support a motion such as this when a royal commission is on foot. I think it is time—and it is expected by the traumatised victims and outraged community—for the Parliament to speak out on behalf of those who have elected us and for those who are not yet old enough to vote. It is time for New South Wales parliamentarians to speak to the actions of the church. We have parliamentary privilege and can therefore elucidate on the evidence and concerns that the judiciary cannot because of limitations on admissibility of evidence.

    Childhood sexual abuse has blighted the lives of too many young people and for too long society has refused to see, hear or speak about their pain. It has caused premature deaths through drug and alcohol abuse, risk‑taking behaviours, self-harm and suicide. It occurs within families and within educational, sporting, health, cultural and religious organisations—in fact, anywhere where adults are in authority over children. Children have been sexually abused by their music tutors, Scout leaders, swimming coaches, foster carers, doctors and dance teachers. Most damningly of all, they have been abused by those who give instruction about the moral standards required to guide them through life: their religious leaders.

    These pastors, priests and teachers are accorded great reverence and authority by not just their own religious hierarchies and communities but also mainstream society. Imagine that authority, by means of a person vested with its power sermonising from the pulpit or lecturing in the classroom, groping your genitals or sexually penetrating your body. Imagine the secrecy, the shame, the pain, the confusion and the fear and terror of not being believed, of being damned to hell if you tell. Imagine the waking nightmare of having participated, however unwillingly, in breaking the very moral laws you have been told to live by. What moral compass then becomes the guiding principle of those people’s lives? No wonder so many seek solace in obliteration.

    Why has my motion singled out the Roman Catholic Church? In various commissions and inquiries we have learned that paedophiles have been active in other religions and denominations such as the Anglican Church, the Salvation Army, Judaism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and obscure religious cults to name a few. There are four reasons why my motion has singled out the Catholic Church. I formed my position even before an article substantiating it entitled “Child sex abuse: Restoration of trust key to survival of Catholic Church” by Chris McGillion and Damian Grace was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 September. The first reason for this motion is that it is important that the culprits are singled out and not allowed to cowardly seek refuge in the shadow of the more broad term “institutional responses to child sexual abuse”.

    The second reason for this motion is the sheer volume of offending in the Catholic Church. In evidence given at the 2012 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations police figures showed that since 1950 there have been 10 times as many abuse cases in the Catholic Church as in the Anglican Church, which was the next largest group for rates of offending. Given that Anglicanism and Catholicism have historically been the two largest religious denominations in Australia, at 17 per cent and 25 per cent of the population respectively, the massive difference in prevalence is compelling evidence of a serious problem within the Catholic Church and is indicative of its failure to protect children.

    The third reason is the culture of clericalism in which the church leadership believes it is only answerable to itself. Obedience to canon law is of more importance than submitting priests to the secular criminal law system. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has stated, “The bishop has a duty to treat all priests as father and brother.” Patrick Parkinson, Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and a specialist in family law and child protection, argues that this has been interpreted by some as an obligation to protect priests and religious brothers from the criminal law.

    Examples of the impacts of clericalism include: transferring alleged offenders to other parishes or schools between parishes, interstate or overseas; permitting international trips for priest to undergo spiritual formation amidst child sexual abuse allegations; persuading complainants, victims and families to remain silent; ignoring schoolteachers’ repeated requests for action against alleged child sexual abuse offenders; and not intervening after inadvertently discovering offenders in the act of child sexual abuse.

    The final reason for this motion is the position of power and privilege that the Catholic Church has within society. The Catholic Church started out on the margins of Australian society. It was the spiritual home for Irish outcasts, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. With the declaration of World War I, the church battled against the State in fighting against conscription. As the decades passed, however, the leadership of the Catholic Church aligned itself with the conservative establishment—fighting communism, socialism and upholding rigid standards of sexual morality as secular society became more permissive.

    The conservative establishment has been happy to provide support and protection from oversight. In August 2002 then Archbishop George Pell was stood down during an investigation into sex abuse claims against him. During the course of the investigation Prime Minister John Howard contacted the archbishop to offer his support, and later publicly stated that he believed Dr Pell was innocent. In 1996, as public outrage grew over the failure of the Catholic Church to adequately respond to child sexual abuse, then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said:

    I was reassured that George said ‘yes’, he’d get stuck into it … I was told that he had put together a response … it’s not for me to sit in judgment … of whether the response was adequate or not.

    Cardinal Pell is on record as saying that he set up the Melbourne Response in 1996 after Mr Kennett told him, “Now you clean this thing up and there won’t be a royal commission.” In his essay “The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell” David Marr said:

    For twenty years, in the face of growing public anger about paedophile priests, political leaders had backed the Catholic Church. Despite protests from victims, their parents, Anglican bishops, lawyers, academics, child protection advocates, a number of Catholic priests, newspapers and police, the business of cleaning up the mess of child abuse had been left to the churches themselves. When Pell provoked an outcry by walking the paedophile Gerald Ridsdale into court in 1993, Jeff Kennett hosed down calls for a royal commission. When Pell was accused himself of abusing boys, John Howard blocked calls for a royal commission.

    The evidence uncovered by the media, whistle-blowers, as well as commissions and inquiries, has shown that the church cultivates an aura of untouchability. Through strategic relationships, it has been able to keep a lid on the scandal of its systemic failure to hold perpetrators accountable for abuse. One example of a disturbing collaboration between the police and the church is the activities of the Professional Standards Resource Group [PSRG]. The Police Integrity Commission investigation, known as Operation Protea, was established after the ABC’s Lateline program reported in 2013 that the church had an agreement with police to allow it to withhold information about paedophile priests. The investigation found that the police failed to act on multiple allegations of child sexual abuse raised in the PSRG meetings, a clear breach of their duty. This was done through a process of “blind reporting” where the names of alleged victims of child abuse and other details were deleted from reports to the police.

    Only recently, it was reported that the Catholic Church has finally agreed to cease blind reporting to police. Hundreds of child sex abuse cases going back decades may be reopened as police finally have access to the names of suspected paedophiles. So let us examine in more detail the failure of the Catholic Church to protect children from sexual abuse: In the words of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart in his evidence to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

    The Catholic church failed to act on the “horror story” of paedophiles in its midst. There was knowledge and a failure to act.

    Royal commission data shows that since 1980 the church had received child sexual abuse complaints from 335 people against 84 priests, covering the period 1950 to 1989. Campaigners say the true number of abuse victims could be as many as 10,000 children. Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, stated that under “Towards Healing” the largest number of complaints were made against the Christian Brothers, Marist Brothers and the De La Salle Brothers—all Catholic. In all, 2,215 victims had come forward and 1,700 people commenced the process, although not all claims were pursued or substantiated. The most complaints, 43 per cent, were made against religious brothers, 21 per cent against diocesan priests and 14 per cent against religious priests. Most of the abuse happened between 1950 and 1980 in orphanages and schools.

    As evidenced by both the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and the royal commission, time and again, over many decades, church authorities concealed the crime from the police, civil authorities, parishioners and Catholic school staff, pupils and their parents within the diocese. Archbishop Hart spoke about a “failure to act”, but that is not quite accurate. Church officials often did act, but in the worst possible way. Sexually abusing priests were frequently transferred to a new parish or a new school, where they continued to offend.

    The damage to the victims was immense. The breach of trust, secrecy and silence frequently caused deep psychological pain and disrupted a victim’s schooling or personal development. Victims felt hurt by knowing that their offender was being protected by the church. Many victims went on to live broken lives, struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, unable to form adult relationships or pursue stable employment. Sadly, many died young as a result of damaged mental and physical health. Police reports have detailed the suicides of at least 40 people sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Victoria.

    When I was only 16 years of age and in year 10 at Marist Brother High School, Hamilton, Newcastle, New South Wales, I witnessed Brother Patrick and Brother Romual walking up and down the aisles of the classroom and stopping near “desired” boys, placing one hand under their robes on their penis and masturbating it while running their other hand down the pants of boys and rubbing their bottom and genitalia. I observed these boys freeze in fear and confusion. At the beginning of each term we could select a new seat and desk in the classroom. The perimeter desks were up against the left and right walls. Boys would arrive as early as possible so they could clamour to a seat adjacent to a wall because they knew that this would position them too far from the Brother for him to be able to molest them. I reported those Brothers to another Brother who I respected. He tried to help, but nothing happened and he soon left the Brotherhood.

    The evidence is overwhelming that the leadership within the church looked the other way. This encouraged the church’s offenders to continue committing similar crimes. The offenders knew that their church status would protect them from being arrested and convicted. It was only through the incredibly brave and tenacious campaigning by the families and victims themselves and groups such as Broken Rites that the true scourge of clerical abuse became a matter of public knowledge and outrage. Over the past 30 years we have seen the scandal within the Catholic Church unfold. Some perpetrators were finally brought to justice. A number of priests were convicted and jailed. It took decades for their child victims to be believed and to experience vindication. In many other instances, charges could not proceed due to lack of evidence or due to the death or incapacity of the accused.

    And what was the response of the Catholic Church when these priests came before the courts? Who can forget the image of Cardinal, then Archbishop, Pell walking side-by-side with the notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale as they entered the court precinct for his trial. The message that Archbishop Pell and the Catholic Church signalled to the Australian community was, “We place the might and majesty of the church against these child victims.” Cardinal Pell has been subject to rigorous cross-examination before the royal commission about what he knew and when. At all times he seems to have not seen, not heard and not spoken out. In his own words: “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me”.

    As a Prince of the Church, it is clear that the investigation of sexual abuse of children by its servants is a low priority. Let us look at Gerald Ridsdale—just one example of what the church knew and what it did. At Ridsdale’s 1994 trial it was claimed that as early as 1971 he had been sent to a psychologist for treatment for his paedophilia. At Inglewood in 1973 a parent complained that Ridsdale had molested their son. A police officer spoke to Bishop Mulkearns, who promised to deal with Ridsdale, but he moved him on instead. Ridsdale was sent to and moved from five more parishes until he was sent overseas to New Mexico. He returned and was appointed chaplain at St John of God Hospital in Richmond, New South Wales, where he was finally arrested. He was charged with 30 counts of indecent assault against nine boys aged between 12 and 16 between 1974 and 1980. He was then convicted and sentenced in 1994 after pleading guilty to 46 charges of abusing 20 boys and one girl between 1961 and 1982.

    Given that the Catholic Church has portrayed itself as a moral pillar and has been accorded significant social status for its stance on sexual behaviour and moral authority, it beggars belief that its leaders would place themselves at arm’s length from the actions of those who carried the authority of the church into day-to day-life.

    The Catholic Church has failed abysmally to protect young people in its care. The leadership of the Catholic Church has consistently and deliberately, over many decades, prioritised the reputation of the Church and the protection of paedophile priests over the safety of children. Cardinal Pell may compare the Church to a transport company with the odd dodgy truck driver but in doing so he exposes the hypocrisy of an organisation that has fought to maintain the illusion of moral authority.

  • Question Without Notice-Lannate L Insecticide

    On our recent visit to Broken Hill where I hosted a community forum, some alarming reports of animal cruelty and abuse were conveyed to myself and my staff. One of the more distressing issues was that of farmers and landholders using Lannate L insecticide, a highly dangerous schedule seven chemical, to poison wild animals, including wild dogs, foxes and wedge tail eagles. Reports of even insect eating animals such as birds and echidnas dying from consuming ants that have landed on Lannate L baited carcassess has sparked serious community concern.

    I questioned the Minister on this issue and it seems he has forgotten that he is the person responsible for animal welfare in this state. Whether an animal is native or not is irrelevant, the issue here is the unauthorised use of a highly dangerous poison on wild animals which causes immense suffering and a slow lingering death.

    Question

    My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. At my recent community forum in Broken Hill I was told that it was common practice for landholders to purchase Lannate L, a schedule 7 insecticide, known colloquially as “Magic” because if used undiluted on a carcass it will kill anything. I was told of a sheep farmer who killed 60 wedge-tailed eagles in one week.

    Will the Minister advise whether the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has approved the use of Lannate L for wild animal control?

    If not, will the Minister direct his department to investigate this unauthorised and cruel use of a schedule 7 poison?

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    Answer

    Some components of this question relate to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority [APVMA], which is a Federal body. The wedge-tailed eagle, which is a native bird, component probably falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Environment. If the question also relates to other pest animals species it may be relevant to my portfolio. What chemicals can be used for agricultural purposes and not for pest management is a responsibility for the APVMA. In good faith, I will take the question on notice and provide the Hon. Mark Pearson with information that is directly relevant to my portfolio rather than taking up too much time of the House now.

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