• NSW DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES VISIT MY FARM INITIATIVE

    16th November 2017

    Questions without notice.

    DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES VISIT MY FARM INITIATIVE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:43): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. The Minister recently spoke glowingly about the department’s new “Visit My Farm” initiative, which will invite the public, including families with young children, to experience the realities of animal farming. After following the necessary biosecurity precautions, will these visits include observation of sows in farrowing crates and stalls, hens in battery cages, artificial insemination, routine mutilations without analgesia such as eyeteeth removal and tail docking of piglets, de-beaking of layer chicks, and sheds where 22,000 or more broiler chickens are packed in and are routinely suffering from hip dysplasia and pulmonary cardiovascular failure?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:44): I thank the member for his question. These visits will show the next generation where their food and fibre comes from. They will show the hardworking people who have chosen agriculture or horticulture that this is not just a job but a vocation and part of their lifestyle. They will show the vital role that our New South Wales primary producers play not just for this economy but for the social fabric of New South Wales. These visits will show all of our farming systems, which are legal and vital in supplying food and fibre not just for our domestic consumption but for consumption overseas and for other domestic markets.

    We want to highlight to the next generation the great job our farmers do. We want families to learn where their food comes from and to understand more about the production systems involved in that. That is why I am proud to stand up in this House and promote programs like this. That may be not what the member wants. I know he disagrees with some of the production systems that are legal in this State. The member disagrees with some of the production systems that our regional communities rely upon. He disagrees with some of the production systems that our farmers utilise. However, that does not mean that because it is not what he wants, everyone else should follow. It is important to show family members and children who have never been exposed to some of these operations where their food and fibre comes from, to help them understand production systems so that they do not get spooked by some scare campaigns, get the wrong end of the stick or have misunderstandings about production systems.

    That is why these farms are opening the gates and inviting people in. Without our farmers we could not spend the time doing what we are doing here; we would have to worry about where our next meal comes from. We can all get on and do what we want with our lives because of our farmers. We can follow other vocations because we do not have to worry about where our next meal will come from. Instead of talking down the production systems, through this program we have chosen to educate, inform and enhance the role of our farms in the minds of those who have not been exposed to them previously. We are proud of this. We have nothing to hide and it is something that should be encouraged.

    The member disagrees with some of these production systems and he listed a range of areas that he believes should be outlawed. Some aspects of those production systems give no credit to the industries that are looking at those systems themselves and in some cases, as with the sow stalls, are phasing them out themselves. Primary producers and industries in this State also understand the concerns of consumers and are responding to them. Where there are animal welfare issues they are looking at other production systems and meeting those issues head on. They do not need us to dictate to them. We should provide consumers with a choice of product, allow farmers to provide that choice and get on with the production systems. We support our farmers.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:48): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer as to how the families and young children will be educated and informed about the intensive methods of production that I outlined in my original question?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:48): I refer the member to the publicly available details in relation to the program.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-

    Although the Minister speaks glowingly of the department’s new industry backed scheme, a quick visit to the website reveals not a single intensive farm is on the list of farms to visit. 

  • THE ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY CALLS FOR MANDATORY CCTV CAMERAS IN ABATTOIRS

    17th November 2017

    MEDIA RELEASE


    Animal Justice Party MP, Mark Pearson calls for mandatory CCTVs in all abattoirs after yet another expose of animal cruelty; the latest in a poultry processing plant in Melbourne where footage shows spent layer hens entering scalding tanks whilst still alive.

    “The suffering of these birds would have been immense as their shackled bodies were lowered into the boiling water. These animals should have already been stunned and killed before they were immersed in the boiling water for feather loosing. We are constantly told by the regulatory authorities that such events are ‘isolated incidents by rogue employees’, but in fact such incidents occur frequently, often due workers being pressured to keep the kill chain going even where malfunctioning machinery causes harm to animals.”

    “For the sake of animal protection and to put management on notice that any acts of cruelty will be filmed and exposed, CCTV cameras should be mandatory in all places where animals are being slaughtered. There also needs to be resourcing for regular inspections of CCTV footage by the relevant authorities and a truly independent animal welfare regulator that has the capacity to ensure that any cruelty that is uncovered, is prosecuted.”

    The Animal Justice Party MP currently has before NSW Parliament a bill for mandatory CCTVs to be installed in all abattoirs. Debate and vote on the bill is expected next week in the Legislative Council’s final sitting for the year.

  • MARK PEARSON VISITS POZIERES TO PAY RESPECT TO THE ANIMALS FALLEN IN WAR

    10th November 2017

    Lest We Forget

    Throughout history, in war and in peace, animals and mankind have worked alongside each other.

    As “beasts of burden”, messengers, protectors, mascots, and friends, the war animals have demonstrated true valour and an enduring partnership with humans.

    The bond is unbreakable, their sacrifice great – we honour the animals of war.

    Mark Pearson has been spending the parliamentary break visiting the WW1 killing fields of Northern France.

    One destination was particularly poignant; the Animal War Memorial at Pozieres.  Amidst the war graves of fallen soldiers there lies a small memorial garden set aside to honour those horses, donkeys, dogs, and pigeons that were conscripted into war service and killed in action.  These forgotten heroes finally have a place where their sacrifice can be remembered.

    The Animal War Memorial at Pozieres was only opened in July 2017 and has already become a focal point for visitors around the world.  The establishment of this memorial is owed in large part to Nigel Allsop, a former veteran who worked in all aspects of military canine operations and training, and who established the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation. Allsop raised the funds for the Pozieres memorial, and has intentions to further enhance the the site with more statuary, in honour of animal war service.

    I will honour and pay tribute to all those fallen in WWI – both human and non-human.  Animals did not choose nor were conscripted to war but forced by our hand.  Despite this, their loyalty and trust still came through.

    I am so appreciative of the French government and, in particular, the village residents and Mayor of Poziers for establishing a special Memorial for them there.  A place where so many horses and dogs died from gun shot or a long lingering death from injuries whilst trapped in mud.

    What I discovered on this visit to Pozieres Australian Animal War Memorial is something I will never forget.  Here, in only three weeks, more Australian soldiers and animals fell than anywhere else during WW1.  These were just kids in uniforms and animals forced into a living hell.  Despite this, even upon hearing the discharge of a bomb shell which they sensed could target them, horses and dogs were seen to lean over and ‘cover’ their soldier comrade to shield them from the impact.  Horses with their heads, dogs with their bodies.

    Extraordinary.”

    Lest We Forget them too.

    Mark Pearson will be wearing a purple poppy during his visit, signifying the sacrifice of those animals who endured the horrors of the battlefields. Some 9 million horses and unknown numbers of other animals were killed during wartime.  Tragically, surviving horses were denied return to Australia and soldiers were traumatised at having to leave their companions behind to an uncertain fate.  Many shot their horses rather than risk their ill-treatment or slaughter for food.

    The “Animal” Poppy

    Most people are unaware that as well as the traditional red poppy worn to mark the Armistice Day of 11 November 1918, that there is also the purple poppy, worn in remembrance of the animals who died during conflict.

    The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) issued this purple poppy, intended to be worn alongside the traditional red one, to signify and pay respect to the sacrifice the animals made alongside their human comrades.

     

    Mark Pearson with Mayor Bernard Delattre at the Australian Animal War Memorial, Pozieres, France

  • ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY INTELLIGENCE LEADS TO CHARGES AGAINST DOG TRAINERS FOR DOPING

    14th November 2017

    MEDIA RELEASE.

    Mark Pearson, MLC for the Animal Justice Party, lodged a complaint about what we believe to be evidence of systemic and widespread criminal activity in the greyhound racing industry.  This complaint was sent directly to the Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and was based on information researched and compiled from the hundreds of boxes of unprivileged (open to the public) materials that the late John Kay had ordered be sent to the Legislative Council for viewing.

    The materials, obtained from Greyhound Racing NSW, contained what we considered to be evidence of race fixing, possession and use of illegal substances and animal cruelty.

    After numerous delays, and non response, we finally received a response from NSW Police, which vindicates the complaints.  It may also explain why at least one of my research volunteers received anonymous threats after my letter was sent to police.

    In the response from Deputy Commissioner Regional NSW Field Operations,  Gary Warboys:

    “The information you provided was examined and I am advised that a series of recommendations relating to your concerns are being examined by the Greyhound Racing Integrity Commission. Notwithstanding those investigations, you might be aware that the NSW Police Force has been conducting separate investigation through Strike Force Inbob and as a result Detectives investigating race fixing and irregular betting in greyhound racing has recently charged two trainers over the alleged possession of euthanasia drugs and steroids.”

    Mark Pearson:

    “The response from the NSW Police vindicates the importance of the Animal Justice Party’s formal complaint to Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie.  Our complaint detailed very serious criminal activities, seemingly going on unchecked and unabated by GRNSW.  It is now apparent that Strike Force Inbob and other departments of the NSW Police have taken the analysis of the evidence compiled and presented and has now been instrumental in ongoing investigations including the laying of charges against two greyhound trainers for alleged dog doping and drug possession.”

    Clearly the industry remains under robust scrutiny by government authorities and the greyhound advocacy groups around NSW.  I will continue to provide any ongoing evidence to the police until the inevitable collapse of this repugnant industry.

     

  • NO MORAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ZOOS

    12th October 2017

    Adjournment Speech.

    ZOOS.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:58): It was not that long ago that we exhibited deformed, mentally ill and indigenous people in exhibitions such as circuses and zoos. There is no moral justification for the continued existence of zoos; they are just tourist attractions. The recent controversy over Taronga Zoo’s proposal to build a multiple-storey “eco resort” on its exclusive harbourside grounds is clear evidence of tourism first, animals last. As noted by Mosman Council in its objection to the development application:

    The planned $45 million resort appears incompatible with the primary aims of the zoo, which are animal display, research, breeding and raising public awareness of species conservation.

    Any feeble claim that zoos are “educational” assumes that the numerous award-winning nature documentaries depicting animals in their natural habitat expressing their normal behaviours are inferior to watching captive animals engage in stress-relieving behaviour in a cramped, alien environment. It has been well documented that wild animals cannot, and do not, have the capacity to express their natural behaviours in unnatural circumstances. Many zoo-confined animals exhibit stereotypical behaviours, known as “zoonosis”. Examples of this include compulsive pacing, over-grooming and obsessive head nodding and weaving, often seen in the elephants and giraffes currently at Taronga Zoo. What about the educational benefits for children? It is said that seeing animals in the flesh is the only way to stimulate their interest. Given the number of seven-year-old children obsessing about long-extinct dinosaurs or preschoolers watching endless loops ofPeppa Pig videos, I doubt that argument can be sustained.

    The trite observation that twenty-first century zoos have transitioned into conservation zones must be contested. While the larger zoos such as the Taronga Western Plains Zoo can reasonably accommodate specialised conservation programs, it is hardly the case with metropolitan zoos. The dirty secret of zoo breeding programs is that zoos regularly kill surplus animals or, at best, break up kinship groups in order to export family members to other zoos around the world. The proposed new Sydney Zoo to be constructed in Western Sydney Parklands is a classic example of a zoo that is designed primarily as a simple exhibition for tourists, not for animal welfare or conservation. The promotional materials give the game away—spruiking the zoo’s proximity to other tourist attractions such as Wet’n’Wild Sydney, Sydney Motorsport Park and the Sydney International Equestrian Centre. Up to one-third of the space in the tiny 16 hectares will be devoted to car parks and visitors’ entrance—no doubt well stocked with eye-catching merchandise and an inviting cafeteria.

    The zoo is planning on exhibiting up to 500 animals, including all the glamorous and exotic attractions such as rhinos, lions, tigers, cheetahs, gorillas, giraffes and monkeys. The zoo’s promotional video shows that predator and prey animals are confined in small enclosures that are so closely located they will be able to see, smell and hear each other. Judging from the information that has been released, there is not a shred of evidence that there will be any conservation programs for these confined exotic animals imprisoned in the suburbs of Western Sydney. In another promotional video, the former environment Minister is shown speaking enthusiastically about the zoo’s plans to establish a breeding program for native animals that have become threatened species in the wild. Given the ridiculously small area available for the native animal enclosure, I am at a loss as to how that can be achieved. At the very least, we should prohibit the construction of new zoos, close metropolitan zoos and move any damaged animals into conservation programs on rural animal sanctuaries that can best mimic their natural environment.

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