• Mark defends the Brumby in heartfelt Adjournment speech

    The Brumby holds a special place in the Australian psyche, personifying the Australian courage and spirit of freedom. Yet, today, just like the kangaroo, they face an uncertain future, considered by some, including this government to be feral pests. They find themselves becoming increasingly marginalised in lands that have been their home for over a century. A home thrust upon them when early European settlers found little need for them with the onset of farm machinery and released them into the wild, left to survive. It is this survival that spawned a time when only the toughest survived, natural selection saw the evolution of wild horses with the traits required to thrive in the environment in which they found themselves.

    The Brumby has gallantly served human, toiling on farms as stock animals, building the roads and railways we relied upon, even serving as police horses enforcing the law of the bush. They accompanied men to war, with over 70,000 horses losing their lives in World War I alone.

    In October 2000, the slaughter of over 600 brumbies in the Guy Fawkes River National Park sparked widespread public outcry and national media attention. In response to this atrocity an inquiry was conducted which revealed numerous failings of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in their role in the mass slaughter.

    Yet it seems we have not learnt from our past mistakes, killing is NOT the answer. All of the so-called “feral” animals were brought to Australia by human beings. We brought the horse here not out of love but out of the notion that they would provide us with something useful. We exploited them and then when they weren’t needed we disposed of them like mere objects and sent them on their way into the wild bush, Wanted Yesterday, Unwanted Today. They survived and adapted like any other being on this planet and yet some continue to persecute them and if this government gets its way decimate their existence to such a degree that their heritage and bloodlines will be threatened.

    I acknowledge that humane management is not a quick fix one size fits all solution. However it is our duty to ensure that we invest and utilise best practice and sound methods of estimating and reporting the true population numbers. Where required, fertility control is to be used and in parallel we must invest in fertility control via research and development. This is a very successful method used for the wild horses of the Canadian Rockies and the elephants in Africa. The use of fertility control would also mean that fewer Brumbies would be born each year and result in a proper and sustainable management plan. Mass slaughter does not equal management and until governments realise this it is likely that the continuous cycle of killing and responsive population growth will continue.

    Passive trapping and rehoming programs aim to capture horses with minimal interference from humans and released to suitable rehoming groups. Whilst strict adherence to best practice and horsemanship is critical to the success of such programs, this is another non-lethal strategy that both reduce numbers in the wild whilst maintaining the cultural heritage and significance of the brumby. The Hunter Valley Brumby Association is one such group which to date has taken on over 50 brumbies to their sanctuary, 30 of these have come from the Kozciuszko National Park.

    In closing, I challenge the persistent notion and labelling of “feral” animals. These animals are not feral; rather, they are wild, untamed survivors of humans’ past failings. I once asked an Indigenous elder, “So what do you think makes an animal a native Australian?” He replied, “When it is born here.”

  • 18/04/2016: Question With Notice, Pig gassing cruelty investigation

    Last June I had a meeting with Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair regarding the gassing of pigs at Rivalea slaughterhouse. In this meeting I presented footage of the gas stunning process captured as the pigs were lowered into the chamber. In addition, I asked for the Minister to visit in person with myself and other concerned colleagues, the Rivalea facility and witness first hand the gassing process.

    Unsurprisingly the Minister declined the offer of a slaughterhouse visit. I then wrote a formal letter to the Rivalea management so as I and a member of my staff could visit the slaughterhouse, this was rejected without reason. So as you know, we, attempted to visit ourselves, we were not received with a warm welcome.

    It has to be asked if everything is OK then why all the secrecy? Why the denials and refusal of inspection?

    Well according to Minister Blair all is OK, in a response letter sent to my office he confirmed he had viewed the footage and that everything is fine at Rivalea. The issue filmed was merely the actions of individual workers as opposed to systemic cruelty. The RSPCA had inspected the facility and found it to be compliant. All is good, nothing to see.

    I do NOT accept this and so I my questioning of the claims in the letter have been written and formally submitted to the Minister, a response is required by the 28th of April.

  • 10/03/2016: Wool industry debate

    Motion by the Hon. MARK PEARSON agreed to:

    (1) That this House commends the 80 per cent of Australian wool growers who are:

    (a) breeding sheep to be resistant to flystrike by breeding out skin wrinkles; or

    (b) using pain relief when mulesing sheep.

    (2) That this House calls on the remaining 20 per cent of wool growers to begin breeding sheep to be resistant to fly-strike, and in the interim, providing pain relief to sheep when mulesing.

    (3) That this House congratulates Dr Meredith Schiel and the Australian Wool Growers Association for developing and promoting Tri-Solfen, an economical local anaesthetic and antiseptic gel spray for use on lambs to provide pain relief following mulesing, which also reduces blood loss and infection to improve wound healing.

    (4) That this House commends Laurence Modiano, a leading European wool-buyer and distributor for facilitating the uptake in the textile industry’s demand for non-mulesed wool and for encouraging the Australian wool industry to move towards pain relief.

    (5) That this House congratulates world renown fashion designer Count Zegna for, in the past two years, awarding his prestigious Wool Trophy for the best superfine Merino fleece to wool growers who have bred out the wrinkles in their sheep and adopted other management practices and therefore ceased mulesing their sheep.


     

    Many years ago the economy of Australia was built on the back of the merino sheep through the development of the wool industry. It grew and became the fundamental platform of the first major economy for Australia. The industry, which has an important and interesting history, is now alive and robust but it also has the attention of the world. This motion calls upon the House to commend various activities conducted by people in the wool industry and various growers. The motion is about a win-win-win situation. The view of the Animal Justice Party is that it is a win for the almost 23 million lambs that are born every year in Australia. Many of the lambs undergo a surgical procedure called mulesing, which is the removal of skin and subcutaneous tissue around the vulva, tail and breech area of the animal.

    Twelve years ago I filmed this procedure and I sent the footage to organisations around the world so that the true story behind the production of wool in Australia could be observed. It was not exaggerated or highlighted. The document showed a procedure that is common in Australia. Over the past 25 years the Federal Government has appointed standing committees on animal welfare which have reviewed this procedure. Those reviews have resulted in the industry, through the research of the Australian Wool Innovation, addressing the mutilating procedure that is performed on animals without any analgesia or pain relief. As a result, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in Australia was required to include a provision to exempt sheep and lambs from this particular procedure where a prosecution would otherwise have been brought for unnecessary, unjustifiable and unreasonable cruelty to an animal. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

    The second win would come from this House commending the work of proactive and progressive growers, people in the industry and retailers who want to introduce a change in the industry. The world is now looking at what we do in our backyard. Buyers such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Zegna, Armani and Hugo Boss are looking at what we are doing with our animals when producing various products such as wool. There was an international crisis when consumers and retailers of Australian wool became alarmed and concerned about what they saw. I will give an example. I was in London attending a meeting between the Australian Wool Growers Association and a senior executive of Armani. The conversation was critical. The Australian Wool Growers Association representatives were trying to convince a senior executive of Armani—a major importer of Australian wool—that mulesing is necessary for the wellbeing and welfare of the animal. That is the complexity of this issue.

    It is not like the argument about battery cages for hens where the cage is an instrument of cruelty. The procedure of mulesing is about preventing flystrike, which results in the lingering and painful death of an animal. However, the procedure is invasive and it is a mutilation. Veterinarians and wool buyers are highly critical of the procedure when it is performed without pain relief. The Australian Wool Growers Association representatives were trying to explain this point to a senior executive of Armani when he said, “Stop. I am a wool buyer. I have customers. Beautiful soft merino wool for my beautiful suits—bleeding horrible wound. Stop it. Fix it or I go to Spain or South America.”

    The message was clear. Our problem is flystrike. Armani’s customers do not want blood on the Armani label. The argument has moved to a new chapter. We have to fix the problems associated with the necessity for mulesing. It will continue to occur, but if changes are made by growers to breed out wrinkles so that after 18 months or two years the animals no longer require mulesing to avoid flystrike, then that will be more acceptable to buyers around the world. The motion calls on this House to commend the work that will result in a win-win-win situation: a win for the animals; a win for the wool growers who are progressive and visionary and, therefore, taking the industry forward in the world; and a win for Australia’s economy and world image. We will not be condemned or attract criticism that creates a crisis for the industry because we have not caught up with world’s best practice and acknowledged that animals must be protected.

    This motion is not about condemning the industry; it is about moving the industry forward. A recent petition signed by 38 wool buyers from around the world—from China, Europe and America—showed that wool buyers fear that wool from lambs that have been mulesed without pain relief will be mixed with wool from lambs that have been mulesed with pain relief when it is being washed, spun or knitted in China or other countries. This will cause serious blight and risk and liability to the wool industry in Australia if we do not give an absolute guarantee to wool buyers that we will make pain relief mandatory. That guarantee is important to wool buyers, particularly Count Zegna, whose company is at the upper aspect of the wool-buying industry. When Count Zegna was in Australia a couple of years ago he said that a trophy would be given to a wool grower not only on the quality of their wool but also on the basis that the wool grower was using pain relief or had stopped mulesing.

  • 23/03/2016: Question without notice, illegal hunting

    The ridiculous decisions of the Baird government in relation to activists exposing animal cruelty and silencing their right to peaceful protest can only be described as dictatorial. Yet the government does nothing to stop the rogue Rambo wannabes illegally trespassing on land and indiscriminately killing animals and wildlife.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight representing the Hon. Troy Grant, Deputy Premier, and Minister for Justice and Police. Given the alarming media reports of confrontations between landholders and illegal hunters and the identification of illegal hunting trespass as being of concern to 58 per cent of farmers by Dr Elaine Barclay, Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of New England, will the Minister confirm that the Stock Theft and Trespass Review will investigate the rising incidence of illegal hunting trespass on rural lands?

    If so, is there a term of reference that specifically addresses the issue of illegal hunting trespass, and how is the review being promoted to the wider community?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It was probably a question better put to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industries, because the Department of Primary Industries Game Licensing Unit is hard at work targeting illegal hunters across the State. There is not an illegal hunter in the State that Niall’s army is not chasing at this moment. It is interesting to note that in this Parliament recently the Shooters and Fishers Party—soon to be the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, but they will not look after the farmers as well as The Nationals—indicated that they find illegal shooting on private property, namely farms, totally abhorrent. I do not think anyone in this place who would disagree with that.

    People in the gallery and members of the House have farms. One of the worst things you can find when working in rural industries is people operating illegally on your property. Even worse is to have people shooting illegally on your property—especially if they are shooting with rifles. Shotguns have a short trajectory but bullets from rifles can carry a couple of kilometres or more. Some years ago on my home farm a bullet lodged in the fibro on the edge of the shearers’ quarters. We had no idea where the bullet came from but it was a scary thing to happen.

    I am told that a robust regulatory system that allows legal, licensed hunters to access declared public lands acts as a deterrent to those who operate illegally and who are determined to flout the law. In fact, legal, licensed hunters are a regular and reliable source of information on illegal hunters. They hate them as much as we do, and they contribute to compliance and enforcement within their peer networks. The community also has an important role to play in detecting and deterring illegal hunting. It is now an easy matter for members of the public to report illegal hunting incidents.

    The game licensing unit has partnered with the NSW Police Force to shut the gate on illegal hunting as part of the larger shut the gate on rural crime campaign, as asked about in the member’s question. A dedicated illegal hunting report line 1800 SHUT IT is now available to report illegal hunting directly to game licensing compliance officers. Illegal hunting report forms, business cards and magnets have also been processed to assist members of the public to report illegal hunting activity and ensure the right information is collected. Investigations rely on the timely and accurate reporting of illegal hunting. Details that assist in investigations include the date, time and place; details about the alleged offender; vehicle type and registration; and the type of alleged illegal activity.

    The New South Wales Government is committed to detecting and deterring illegal hunting in this State. The community now has more information. What I have not answered in his question I will certainly take on notice and refer to the police Minister for a comprehensive response.

  • 23/03/2016: Debate speech to Greens Climate Change Bill

    In the ensuing debate around climate change, emissions and human impacts that took part in reference to the Greens Climate Change Bill, all ignored the cow in the room, that is animal agriculture. Whilst I and the Animal Justice Party acknowledge the devastating impacts as a result of fossil fuels, we think it is somewhat convenient that animal agriculture is omitted from the debate. Is it easier to force government and industry to change than to change our own habits? In my speech I didn’t feel the need to address the common enemies but to challenge those that believe in climate change to acknowledge the impact of animal agriculture and hopefully change their lifestyle to suit.

    Google ‘meat and climate change’ or ‘diet and climate change’ and countless articles supporting this pop up, the UN acknowledges it and here in Australia it is the hot topic. When we have 29 million cattle, 72 million sheep and just 23 million people, our accumulated climate impact is right up there with France, with its 66 million people. It’s not always the human population that determines a country’s environmental impact.

    Read my speech below and for the full debate go HERE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: The Animal Justice Party supports the Climate Change Bill 2015. I congratulate Ms Jan Barham and her staff on all the work that has gone into this bill. The Animal Justice Party will support the Opposition’s amendment to refer this bill to the relevant committee. In December 2015 the landmark climate conference in Paris found that animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than the transport system around the world, so it is important to take this issue on board. Thirty-eight years ago Russian scientist Vladimir Nesterenko publicly stated that the death of frogs in the Himalayan mountains was a measure of climate and atmosphere crisis. Frogs have a membrane that measures in the most sensitive way any changes to the environment. Vladimir Nesterenko was a visionary scientist.

    We are now seeing the consequences of his prediction. It is important to look at the chain of events that led to animal agriculture. We clear old growth forest to grow grain with a lot of water, the grain is then harvested and transported long distances creating further emissions, it is stored in silos and from those silos transported to feedlots that practise intensive farming such as cattle, piggeries, battery hen facilities and other livestock. That then creates massive effluent pools. It is clear that the movement towards animal agriculture on such a major scale around the world is, as the Paris conference finding states, contributing more to global warming than the transport system around the world, which is quite a statement. It is irrelevant whether climate change is due to a natural change in the universe caused by the movement of the sun and earth or is directly related to human kind’s activities or a combination of the two—which the Animal Justice Party says is the case.

    What is relevant is that the human species is capable of bringing change, grappling with problems and crises and can contribute to reducing global warming. What is clear is that we have to support a move towards a plant-based diet. While we push animal agriculture into China and other Asian countries we are striking at and feeding the fundamental problems contributing to global warming. The Animal Justice Party supports this bill but will also support the Opposition’s amendment to send the bill to the relevant committee. The Animal Justice Party will push for terms of reference to include an analysis of the animal agriculture industry and its contribution to global warming. I commend the bill to the House. I commend the Opposition’s amendment to refer the bill to the relevant committee.

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