• HARD SHELL CRUSTACEANS

    22nd March 2016

    HARD SHELL CRUSTACEANS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. The sea animals theme continues. The website of the Department of Primary Industries and the code of conduct of the Master Fish Merchants Association state that the boiling of live hard shell crustaceans is an unacceptable method of killing. It has been brought to my attention that hard shell crustaceans are being boiled alive in seafood markets or other outlets which sell directly to the public as opposed to restaurants, which sell seafood for consumption. If this is so, why is this practice being allowed? Will the Minister advise members whether there has been any breach regarding the unacceptable methods of killing crustaceans at New South Wales seafood markets in the past 12 months?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: There are a number of elements to that question, which was highlighting examples and specifying outlets that may be acting in breach of the code. It would be prudent for me to take the question on notice and to return with a detailed response at a later date.


    4th March 2016

    HARD SHELL CRUSTACEANS

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (22 March 2016).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water)—The Minister for Primary Industries provided the following response:

    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [POCTA] only applies to a crustacean when at a building or place (such as a restaurant) where food is prepared or offered for consumption by retail sale in the building or place.

    The Department of Primary Industries guideline on humane harvesting of fish and crustaceans is not prescribed under POCTA, but is used by POCTA enforcement agencies to inform compliance and enforcement.

    The Departments guideline does not say that boiling of live hard shell crustaceans is an unacceptable method; it recommends that all crustaceans be immersed in a salt water/ice slurry for a minimum of 20 minutes before boiling, broiling, pithing or cutting.

    The Department of Primary Industries administers POCTA but does not enforce it or have information on breaches relating to crustaceans. The enforcement agencies are RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police.

    RSCPA NSW has advised the Department that it has issued a penalty infringement notice to a proprietor at the Sydney Fish Markets in the past 12 months.

  • SEE NO EVIL – TREATMENT OF ANIMALS

    23rd March 2016

    Adjournment speech.

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [4.20 p.m.]: See no evil. My adjournment speech is based on the writings of Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan on the equitable treatment of animals in governance and policy. Since the time of the Industrial Revolution animals have been slowly excluded from the lives of most humans. Until relatively recently both rural and city dwellers had direct experience of the economic exploitation of animals, from horses used for transport and in agriculture, cattle and sheep driven to be slaughtered at open markets, to eggs collected from backyard chicken coops.

    Increased urbanisation and agricultural industrialisation ended the eye witness observation of the lives and deaths of animals used by humans. This dislocation has resulted in the invisibility of the lived experiences of farmed animals and those animals used in medical research. Slaughterhouses with all their blood, gore and stench have been exiled from our cities. Intensively farmed pigs and chickens spend their few miserable weeks of life contained in massive, windowless sheds far from the casual observation of passers-by. While farmed animals may live their lives almost entirely unseen, that does not mean that they are not subject to the law.

    We have animal welfare legislation such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and a multitude of codes of practice, standards and guidelines which detail the ways in which animals may be lawfully treated by industry. A thin veneer of animal welfare sits alongside a prohibition of unnecessary suffering. However, if the average citizen could see the suffering caused by lawful practices such as mulesing, castration, de-horning, tail-docking and eye teeth removal—all without pain relief in the main—I am sure that they would demand higher levels of standards of care. Our citizens rely upon their members of Parliament and regulatory bodies to safeguard that what happens in these hidden places meets community standards concerning animal wellbeing. Time and again it has been shown that the public’s expectations are not being met.

    Exposés by animal rights and welfare groups have shown cruel treatment of pigs, ducks, turkeys and chickens, to name a few instances where animal activists have recorded images that horrify the nation. Community outrage occurs each and every time these images of suffering are broadcast and it clearly shows that the public does care about the lives of animals. It is disturbing, however, that the Government and industry response is not to improve animal wellbeing standards and better resource enforcement agencies, but rather in the main to attack and criminalise the messenger.

    This lack of transparency disenfranchises citizens and helps generate inconsistencies in animal welfare laws. It undermines the role of citizens as policy participants and forces animal activists to engage in illegal behaviour in an attempt to put animal welfare on the political agenda. The introduction of ag-gag laws via the Biosecurity Act and the Inclosed Lands Amendment (Interference) Bill increase penalties for animal activists who in the public interest capture footage of animal suffering on private lands. Ministers talk of activists as vigilantes and terrorists but our regulatory system makes independent oversight of intensive farming facilities virtually impossible. Dr O’Sullivan stated:

    The only people who see agricultural animals are those who financially benefit from bringing them into the world, and then killing them. Such people are not reliable witnesses. They cannot be trusted as the only source, or even the primary source, of information about whether an animal’s life is good or not.

    How can we ensure that the laws regulating the lives of animals reflect community values, when the community has little to no capacity to see or engage with animals? How can the community inform animal welfare laws, when we know very few animals? If the community is unable to draw its own conclusions about the suitability of animal protection laws made in its name, what type of challenge does this pose to liberal democratic values?

  • BABOONS USED IN MEDICAL RESEARCH

    17th March 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Baboons used in medical research.

    MEDICAL RESEARCH ON BABOONS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water, representing the Minister for Medical Research and Assistant Minister for Health. Would the Minister advise the House of the critical outcomes of the medical research conducted from 2012 to 2015 on baboons kept at the Wallacia facility, pertaining to xenotransplantation, including whether xenotransplantation was performed on a baboon known as Conan? If so, was this the first of its kind in the world? Did Conan die due to complications from this procedure? What experiments were performed on the baboons known as Scar, Belvedere and Frazer? What were the causes of their deaths?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the member for his question. I am happy to talk broadly about the matter, but because the member asked for specific detail and directed the question to my colleague in the other place I will take the question on notice, refer it to my colleague and come back to the member with a detailed answer.


    4th May 2016

    MEDICAL RESEARCH ON BABOONS

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (17 March 2016).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water)—The Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water, provided the following response:

    The Department of Primary Industries administers the Animal Research Act 1985.

    The Department accredits animal research establishments and receives reports on animal use statistics from them each year, which are collated and reported in the Animal Research Review Panel Annual Report. The information collected is general and deals with numbers of different species of animals used for categorised purposes and categorised levels of impact. The Department does not routinely collect more specific information about individual research projects.

    On a needs basis, information is obtained about specific research projects in the course of administration of the Act. The Act restricts the disclosure of this information.

    Each accredited establishment is responsible for ensuring that research applications are approved by their Animal Ethics Committee. The research applications must include detailed information including the justification for the use of animals, as well as the impacts of all parts of the research project on the animals, and how these impacts will be minimised.

    Published articles are available in the scientific literature on the use of baboons from the National Baboon Colony for xenotransplantation studies. See for example the American Journal of Transplantation June 2014 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajt.12722/full.

  • CONDEMNATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

    16th March 2016

    Notice of motion.

    Condemnation of the Catholic Church.

    On Wednesday the 16th of March, Mark gave notice of a motion to condemn the Roman Catholic Church in Australia for its abject failure to protect children from sexual abuse. This motion is very dear to Mark’s heart and our core belief that he will be a voice for the vulnerable, this is a duty we take seriously, not just for animals but people also. When we allow the wrong doings to go unabated in our society, we become complicate in them.

    See the full Notice of Motion HERE

    Watch the video below:

  • ANTI PROTEST BILL

    15th March 2016

    Second reading speech.

    Anti protest bill.

    INCLOSED LANDS, CRIMES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (INTERFERENCE) BILL 2016

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [10.31 p.m.]: I oppose the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016. It is rather ironic that only last month the Government was giving an apology to the 78ers who were dealt with extremely severely for peacefully protesting. At the age of 19, I was one of those 78ers. Thirty-eight years ago the government of the day gave a directive to police to deal with people who were protesting against extremely draconian laws. We are in a similar situation today. This bill is one of the most draconian pieces of legislation I have seen. It is taking us back to the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era in Queensland.

    People who protested in the streets in 1978 opposed legislation under which they would be locked up purely because of their strong point of view or particular state of being and sexuality. They were treated so appallingly that 38 years later the Government has apologised to them and acknowledged respect for the changes they brought to society. It will not be very long before the same thing happens again if this bill becomes law. In Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s street marches always seemed to begin in King George Square outside Brisbane City Hall. King George Square was the crucible for the city’s social disquiet and ferment, where thousands of protesters once risked the batons of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s police force over issues as diverse as the Vietnam War, the Springbok rugby tour, Aboriginal issues, nuclear disarmament and the right to protest.

    Following Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s decision in 1977 to expand uranium mining an anti-uranium protest group was formed. In turn, Premier Bjelke-Petersen outlawed street marches, sparking a number of confrontations in the city. However, the right to march quickly became the main issue for both the marchers and the police. On 4 September 1977 Bjelke-Petersen announced, “Protest groups need not bother applying for permits to stage marches because they won’t be granted … that’s government policy now”. They were not even able to appeal to a magistrate.

    This bill strikes the same chord of oppression of people’s free will and capacity to speak up and oppose instruments of harm. In 1987 the Fitzgerald inquiry was held in Queensland. There is likely to be an inquiry one day into the consequences of this bill. During the Fitzgerald inquiry Terry O’Gorman, representing the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, took up the issue of the anti-march laws. The inquiry report noted that the right of public assembly had traditionally been analogous to the right of free speech, and a touchstone of the respect given to civil liberties within society. I will outline how this bill will impact upon the conduct of other businesses including those that use animals, which is central to my election to this Parliament. People protest coal seam gas operations and other mining activities for the same reason that they oppose other businesses—that is, they harm the environment, the people living in the area and the air and water. The animal rights movement also opposes businesses that harm animals.

    It is true that activists have been known to go into intensive livestock industry operations or abattoirs and “lock on” when all other avenues to try to bring change for the animals have been exhausted. It is not as though that protesting is flippant or reckless conduct. When all other avenues are pursued to finality and harm of whatever nature has not been stopped people are compelled out of utter frustration to risk their personal liberties. That has been an instrument of protest for hundreds of years. Protests for the rights of women, children, workers and slaves have been referred to in this debate. We cannot strike out the fundamental principle of people’s right to protect beings and the environment from harm. A perfect example is our desire to stop sows being kept in stalls where they cannot turn around but can only step forwards or backwards for almost their entire lives.

    Another example is the protest to prevent hens living their whole lives in cages two-thirds the size of an A4 sheet of paper. In a recent protest against the gas stunning of pigs, activists stopped animals being delivered to gas chambers where it took them up to one minute to die from asphyxiation because of the gassing mechanisms. Those protests are held out of frustration because harm is happening and the people who are trying to help and bring about change have exhausted all other interventions and avenues available to them. The Government is facing one of the most extraordinary historical situations in Australia—namely, activists are standing beside farmers and people working in towns. For those reasons the Animal Justice Party must oppose and condemn this bill.

    Read the full debate here.

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