• PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AMENDMENT (STOCK ANIMALS) BILL 2015

    22nd October 2015

    Second reading speech.

    Amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AMENDMENT (STOCK ANIMALS) BILL 2015

    Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Mark Pearson.

    Second Reading

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [10.50 a.m.]: I move:

    That this bill be now read a second time.

    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Stock Animals) Bill 2015 goes to the very heart of the principles of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979—an Act that is about being proactive, not reactive. I refer to the fundamental principles of the Act, which were reviewed in 1997. The objects stipulate that the duty of care, control and supervision of animals is a positive duty, not a reactive one. The fundamental principle of this bill is that a person must promote and ensure the welfare of animals and must prevent cruelty or harm and suffering to those animals, even if the act of cruelty is not intentional.

    The object of the bill relates to the wellbeing or welfare of livestock, that is, stock animals including poultry, pigs and cattle. In New South Wales the numbers of poultry are in the millions. As we speak, up to seven million chickens or poultry are being kept in various stages of intensive housing, as well as up to approximately 900,000 pigs and tens of thousands of cattle. This bill relates to intensive farming as well as to intensive and free-range facilities and the need to provide a secure enclosed area to protect the animals from predators and extremities in temperatures.

    Several incidents have stimulated me, on behalf of the Animal Justice Party, to introduce this bill. These include incidences of extreme suffering where many hundreds of animals have burnt to death. A recent incident occurred at Wonga piggery near Young in central New South Wales where 2,500 weaners were killed in a fire. The manager of that piggery stated that he had no knowledge of how the fire started. Another incident was at Boen Boe Stud piggery near Joadja in the Southern Highlands where on 9 April 2015 400 pigs were burnt to death in a fire. In a facility near Gloucester belonging to Pace Farm approximately 22,000 hens were burnt to death in a fire. I will talk about alarm systems later.

    I turn now to the three major areas that this bill addresses. First, it addresses the risk of fire. The bill provides that the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock-keeping facility must ensure that a fire sprinkler system is installed and maintained in the abattoir or facility. At a piggery at Grong Grong, 500 pigs died from heat stress as a result of a breakdown of the ventilation system. The alarm system did not function properly so the owners were not alerted and were unable to assist the animals. I was in attendance at Henholme, a battery hen facility owned by Pace Farm, when it was discovered that the feeding system had malfunctioned. Feed was pouring out onto the hens and several hundred of the hens were suffocated. No alarm system was in place to notify management of any malfunctions. This bill contains a requirement for the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock-keeping facility to install and maintain an alarm system.

    In New South Wales and elsewhere several incidences of cruelty to animals, often egregious cruelty to animals, have been exposed. These incidences were exposed by way of surveillance camera recordings. How and who installed the cameras is not relevant. The recordings of the treatment of animals have resulted in investigations and prosecutions by the NSW Police Force. At the Burrangong Meat Processors abattoir near Young, in 1990 recordings from surveillance cameras, which had been installed by workers, depicted pigs not being bled out properly and rendered unconscious, pigs being lowered into scalding tanks while still conscious, and pigs being beaten. This treatment of the animals, which was exposed by the surveillance cameras, led to a major investigation by police and to charges being laid against the abattoir. It also led to a $1.2 million investment in the facility to ensure that the pigs were rendered dead before being lowered into a scalding tank.

    Last year an abattoir in the Hawkesbury Valley, not far from Sydney, was exposed for cruelty to animals during ritual halal and kosher slaughter. This caused an investigation by the NSW Food Authority, the police and the RSPCA and led to an overwhelming improvement in the welfare, wellbeing and treatment of animals. It also led to a very important undertaking by senior rabbis of the Jewish community to address factors surrounding kosher slaughter and the welfare of animals killed in that manner. Cameras that were installed in Inghams turkey abattoir near Tahmoor also revealed extremely brutal treatment of animals, which led to police investigations and prosecutions under the Crimes Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which led to major changes at this abattoir. The purpose of this bill is to introduce mandatory surveillance cameras at critical points in either an abattoir or an intensive livestock facility to ensure animal welfare. Schedule 1 to the bill states:

    24Z         Operations to be recorded in abattoirs and intensive livestock keeping facilities

    (1)      The proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility must ensure a video and audio recording is made of all operations relating to the keeping, movement, handling and slaughter of animals at the abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility.

    (2)      The proprietor must ensure that the equipment used for the purpose of making a video recording under this section is, at all times, positioned to ensure an unobstructed view of the operations being recorded.

    (3)      The proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility must ensure that a recording made under this section is retained for a period of not less than 3 months after the date the recording is made.

    Under schedule 1 to the bill, new section 24ZA deals with inspectors under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which includes the police, the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League and officers with prescribed authority under the Food Act. In relation to those officers it states:

    (1)      An officer may, at any time within 3 months after the making of a recording under section 24Z, require the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility to provide the officer with access to the recording.

    (2)      A person must not fail to comply with a requirement of an officer under subsection (1).

    Maximum penalty: 25 penalty units.

    (3)      The officer may do one or more of the following:

    (a)  examine, inspect or listen to the recording,

    (b)  make a copy of the recording,

    (c)  examine the equipment with which the recording was made.

    It is important that the bill provides an exemption from the oversight of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 which will not prohibit the installation, use and maintenance of a listening device within the meaning of the Act for the purpose of making a recording required under this section. This bill is important because it also goes to some very significant findings in law in relation to the responsibility of people who have animals under their care, control and supervision. When cattle were found dead or dying from starvation on a property it was successfully argued in the Magistrates Court that there was not a strict liability upon the owner of those animals because there was no mens rea—the owner did not know that the animals were suffering. This case was appealed in the Supreme Court before Justice Dowd and an unreported judgement in Bell v. Gunter was handed down. It was argued that the owner of the animals, the person who had the care, control and supervision of the animals, was unaware that those cattle were in that state and dying from starvation.

    The RSPCA won the appeal, which set a very important precedent which goes to some of the underlying principles in this amendment bill. Justice Dowd found that there is strict liability and that once a company or a person in charge of animals places those animals in an enclosure, on an intensive farm, in a restricted area with a fence or other confinement around them where they can be rounded up and put in an abattoir or wherever—and they are not wild animals or where they cannot freely access food and water—then the onus of responsibility sits fairly and squarely on that company or person. There is no excuse for them not to know. The fact that someone has decided to purchase 100 steers, 1,000 pigs or 5,000 hens and then put them into a cage, a confinement or a shed at any given time means that the onus of responsibility is totally on that person to ensure they know where the animals are, what is happening to them, their situation and the elements and factors around them that could cause them harm.

    This bill is really about sending a message and helping owners, managers and people who have responsibility for animals that they have a positive duty to ensure that they know where those animals are and that there are systems in operation that will prevent suffering, in the best and most reasonable way. This bill states that a watering system and sprinkler system need to be in place. If watering systems are placed along the floors of sheds for pigs, chickens or cattle to drink from then it is also possible to have a sprinkler system that is triggered in case of fire to prevent animals from burning to death or being injured, which no reasonable person wants to happen to any animal.

    This bill addresses the positive duty of farmers, owners and managers of animals to ensure their wellbeing and welfare under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by preventing them from being burnt to death. That can be done by having functional alarm systems in place that many people can respond to. For instance, a ventilation system at Grong Grong piggery broke down and many animals died from heat exhaustion and suffocation, which is a terrible way to die. If a CCTV camera system is put in place it will work towards the principle of ensuring that animals are treated humanely. When the call comes from an abattoir to say that 400 pigs have to be on the truck by 2 o’clock and they have to speed up the line having mandatory CCTV cameras in place will ensure that workers’ interactions with animals remain lawful and that they act with the best possible regard for animals. It will also help to ensure that workers at the operation are being looked after.

    Those factors relate to the cases in which Justice Dowd found there is clearly a positive duty upon the owners and managers of an abattoir or intensive livestock facility, or a free-range facility for that matter. Justice Dowd found that the responsibility lies fairly and squarely on their shoulders. As I said, this bill goes to the very foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act because it is about the prevention of cruelty to animals. It will strengthen the foundation of the Act, which is about ensuring the welfare of animals and putting in place the best possible practices so that animals that are totally reliant on our activities, responsibilities and duties are offered the best possible protection from harm, injury and vice. I commend the bill to the House.

    Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

  • NOTICE OF MOTION TO AMEND THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT 1979

    3rd June 2015

    Notice of motion.

    That leave be given to bring in a bill for an Act to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 to impose certain requirements relating to the operation of abattoirs and intensive livestock keeping facilities for the purposes of ensuring the humane treatment of stock animals.

  • SPEECH IN SUPPORT OF NATIVE GAME BIRDS REGULATION 2015 DISALLOWANCE MOTION

    10th November 2015

    Disallowance motion.

    Native Game Birds Regulation 2015.

    GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL ACT 2002: DISALLOWANCE OF SECTIONS [2], [3] AND [4] OF SCHEDULE 1 OF THE GAME AND FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL AMENDMENT (NATIVE GAME BIRDS) REGULATION 2015

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [3.31 p.m.]: The Animal Justice Party supports the motion moved by Mr David Shoebridge to disallow the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment (Native Game Birds) Regulation 2015. I understand that the regulation relates to the shooting of birds that are supposed to be stationary. I used to work as a duck rescuer in the field before the legislation to ban recreational duck shooting became law. We clearly opposed the killing of those birds for recreational purposes. Significantly, I and other rescuers noticed that when a shot was fired at a flock only one or two birds would drop to the ground. If they were lucky they were killed instantly. As we continued to watch the remaining flock fly across the lake two, three or four more birds would slowly drop away. They were the birds that died long, lingering deaths from shot pellets in their bodies.

    One study that led both Houses to ban recreational duck shooting was conducted by Robert L. Cochrane and entitled “Crippling effects of lead, steal and copper shot on experimental mallards”. The study strikes at the issue at hand in this debate. A study undertaken by the gun industry looked at the shooting of ducks that were tethered to the ground and not flying. To an extent, the study replicates the amendment that seeks to allow hunters to shoot animals that are standing still or moving slowly on the ground while they are eating.

    The study conducted by Winchester-Western involved the controlled shooting of ducks that were tethered and not in flight, and then measured the spray pattern and injuries inflicted by the shots. The study proved that a duck’s fate is determined by the number of pellets and what vital organs they strike. Whilst ducks that are struck in the abdomen and those with broken leg bones do not die immediately, they may have little chance of survival. Those ducks are part of the unretrieved kill or crippled cohort. As I said, that study was done on animals that were on the ground and moving slowly. In debate some years ago Labor member the Hon. Jan Burnswoods said:

    One major issue that has been under discussion is cruelty. In 1988 the Animal Welfare Advisory Council, which was set up by the Labor Government, reported that duck shooting should be terminated because the level of pain and suffering of the ducks was unreasonably high. The advisory council recommended that the season be brought to an end … particularly as it is estimated that as many as 20 per cent of birds that are shot die a lingering death.

    There is the rub. This is not about controlling numbers of birds that might be putting pressure on the success of rice paddocks. If there is to be an effective system to deter birds from eating crops the Government must invest money and resources into researching ways to drive ducks from fields. In so doing the Government must bear in mind the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that stop us having an impact on animals that causes unreasonable, unjustifiable and unnecessary suffering. As a humane society we must turn our minds to finding alternative methods of deterrence if there is competition between agriculture and animals. In the future we will look back in shame at opening another chapter of shooting, maiming, crippling and causing the long, lingering deaths of many animals. We will be judged by our actions. I commend the disallowance motion to the House.


    The full debate can be read here.

  • SECOND READING SPEECH – OPPOSITION TO THE BIOSECURITY BILL 2015

    26th August 2015

    Second read speech.

    Ag Gag Bill 2015.

    BIOSECURITY BILL 2015

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [8.15 p.m.]: The Animal Justice Party is in a difficult position because biosecurity is important for the welfare of human beings and animals, the health of food and the protection of the environment. The Animal Justice Party agrees with the principle that biosecurity in New South Wales is everybody’s responsibility but, as the bill currently exists, we cannot support it for three reasons. Firstly, the Executive Government is insisting on exercising excessive power, let alone its refusal to give that administration to the police and the judiciary. That strikes at the fundamental principle of the Westminster system, which is held in high esteem and based on fundamental democracy. The Westminster system has evolved over almost 1,000 years. Secondly, the Executive Government is insisting on excessively punitive penalties. Thirdly, as has been trumpeted from the rooftops by the Government, the Government is claiming that this bill is crucial to protecting the activities of agribusiness that include intensive farming or factory farming of poultry, pigs and cattle by cracking down on activists who document cruelty to animals. That is what they do: they document cruelty to animals—nothing else—and therein lies the rub.

    There is absolutely no evidence—zilch, nil evidence—that activists have brought any disease onto any farm property in New South Wales. The person standing in this Chamber at the microphone is the person who trained most of the activists to adhere strictly to the biosecurity regulations in the Federal national legislation from the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan [AUSVETPLAN]. They strictly adhere to those regulations and requirements and document that adherence. The material has been used in numerous courts to show a magistrate or a judge that these people have acted responsibly, reasonably and have taken all possible measures to prevent any disease being brought to the animals or to the farm. Interestingly, agribusiness itself is the source, cause and culprit of all the outbreaks of diseases across New South Wales and the rest of Australia.. The culprits are workers coming and going from farms, saleyards, and animals, such as bobby calves, that have all been picked up and loaded into the same truck to be taken from dairy farm to dairy farm, and then are taken to one saleyard where they are all mixed with or next to each other. These have been the petri dishes or the cesspools where diseases such as swine flu, bird flu and others have occurred.

    Those diseases have occurred because they have been introduced by the industry itself, not by activists. For example, the clear culprit in the outbreak of swine flu in the Hunter Valley were workers who were coming to that property from other piggeries when they had not abided by practices that activists abide by—making sure they had not been near an abattoir or another pig farm over the previous 14 days. The World Health Organization has made very clear its grave concern about the outbreak of bird flu in its airborne form. It has made clear its serious concern about the connection between intensive poultry sheds and the disease bird flu, or H5N1 influenza. Those sheds can accommodate an average of 22,000 birds, which means there are 44,000 blood-enriched lungs that are flushing away and into which bird flu, as it is now, can lodge. An intensive shed is a perfect environment for this virus to mutate into an airborne form. That is the risk; that is the problem, because 53 per cent of people infected by bird flu, H5N1, die.

    It is similar to the Spanish flu, H1N1. When soldiers came home from the trenches after World War I the flu incubated in them because they had lived in dreadful conditions similar to intensive farms. Then H1N1 killed millions of people throughout the world. These environments are cesspits. They are environments of abnormal stress for animals, with abnormal populations and stock densities and an accumulation of faeces and urine, which is a fundamental part of the intensive livestock industry. Several months ago there was an outbreak of golden staphylococcus in a piggery in Young. Golden staphylococcus outbreaks occur in hospitals amongst very sick people who have open wounds or are elderly or infirm; and they must be seriously compromised to attract such an infection.

    So the question is brought to bear: Why did this staphylococcus outbreak occur amongst workers in a piggery, where the pigs did not bring it or carry it? There was an environment as I described of intensive farming where a virus was able to go forth and multiply and become a disease affecting healthy workers in a piggery, not sick or diseased people in hospitals. Another example is the Newcastle disease outbreak on the Central Coast. This raises some important issues. This disease was brought by contaminants from other poultry industries, not activists. This particular outbreak raised serious issues about animal protection and welfare. Orders were made to kill hundreds of thousands of birds. There have been numerous accounts from firefighters, the Army and the police that many birds were not killed humanely. The birds were placed in drums with carbon dioxide gas. As the operation had to move so quickly often other birds were thrown on top of them before they had died and many suffocated.

    There was even a published report that, because it was becoming too expensive to kill the birds with carbon dioxide, one of the main operators on the Central Coast instructed the owner of the property with the sheds to reduce the number of sheds to two, turn up the heat to maximum and shut off the ventilation. The birds cooked to death. This was unlawful because there was no application under the Animal Research Act to perform an experiment and because it caused extreme aggravated cruelty to animals. Whatever committee or authority is established under the Biosecurity Bill, there must be a person with experience in animal protection to ensure that orders are not made to kill animals, which is often the case when a disease is introduced onto a property.

    This kind of cruelty and egregious suffering must not occur to animals that are considered diseased. For some reason, animal activism has been included in the Biosecurity Bill and shrouded behind some quite constructive principles. However, it must be understood that animal activists, who have never brought a disease, would certainly prefer to be doing things other than entering properties in the early hours of a morning or late at night. They would prefer to be at an opera, Beethoven’s seventh symphony or a Coldplay concert. However, out of frustration, because of the failure of authorities to address often large-scale distress and suffering, they enter these places.

    The evidence as to the fruits of their good work is extraordinary. There have been many major interventions, investigations and changes for animals in the interests of the New South Wales community and the Government. Serious interventions were undertaken by the authorities after the evidence was gathered by these activists. A perfect example is Hawkesbury Valley Meats west of Sydney. This abattoir was killing all species of animals except poultry. As the employees were so distressed and frustrated by the fact that no authority was able to detect serious egregious cruelty to animals, cameras were installed by activists, with the help of employees. Those cameras documented 19 days of some of the most extreme brutalities inflicted upon cattle, sheep, goats and calves. It was so egregious that the police and the food authority marched in with orders and closed the abattoir for four months. The only reason they would reopen the abattoir—this is an important factor—is that the abattoir agreed to mandatory closed-circuit television cameras over critical points of animal welfare.

    This happened under the watch of the former Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson. These animals were under her care. The former Minister was responsible for the care of these animals ultimately, as she had responsibility for the portfolio. Yet every time the authorities visited this abattoir on reports of cruelty, as soon as they knocked on the door and said they had arrived the whistle was blown and the acts of violence against the animals stopped as the authorities walked through. The evidence was gathered at this place, where cruelty to animals had been happening undetected for a long time, because of the activists. Another example is live baiting in Queensland and New South Wales. It has become evident from investigations by the police, and the fact that people have been dismissed and stepped down, that live baiting has been systemic and ongoing for a long time. Live baiting is illegal.


    The full debate can be read here.

  • END LIVE EXPORT RALLY – SYDNEY

    19th October 2015

    On Saturday I spoke in support of Animals Australia’s ongoing campaign to end the barbaric live export trade.  Successive federal governments have failed to end the cruelty, to end the suffering, to end the bloodshed.  Currently we have the most avid of supporters of live export as our federal agriculture minister in Barnaby Joyce.  How can a person who personally profits from and represents an industry that profits from animal exploitation and suffering be the overseer of animal welfare and well-being?

    mark-pearson-end-live-export-rally-2015

    Australia has exported over 160 million animals for slaughter in overseas markets in the last thirty years;  mainly sheep and cattle, though we also export smaller numbers of deer and goats and have exported camels and buffalos.

    These animals’ primary destinations are countries that have no animal welfare laws, standards or codes of practice in place to offer any degree of protection during their handling and slaughter and 80 per cent will have their throats cut whilst fully conscious.

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