12th August 2015

    Adjournment speech.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [12.49 a.m.]: I welcome the Parliament’s commendation yesterday of the Medical Advances Without Animals [MAWA] Trust, which operates as an independent medical research and educational trust facilitating the development and use of non-animal based experimental methods by working cooperatively with the research community. Although the Animal Research Act of New South Wales stipulates that all animal research should be based on the three Rs—reduction, replacement and refinement—in theory it aims at minimising the use of animals in research. It does this through reduction, which is to reduce the number of animals used; replacement, which is to use alternative non-animal methods whenever they are available; and refinement, which is to refine all procedures to ensure that as little pain and stress as possible is experienced by the animals.

    However, animal testing has created a multibillion dollar industry, encompassing the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and university and government bodies. There is also a significant industry that manufactures cages and restraints. Humane Research Australia has identified that the trend over the past decade has been an increase rather than a decrease in animal testing. In 2013, in New South Wales 2,699,532 animals were used for research including more than 2,000 cats and dogs and 272,000 sheep. Of these, 0.53 per cent were in the “death as end point” category. The aim of experiments in this category requires the animals to die unassisted—that is, not euthanased, as death is “a critical measure of the experimental treatment”.

    This shameful torture and killing of animals underpins the absolute need for a visionary organisation such as the Medical Advances Without Animals Trust, which directly funds a wide variety of research projects, and advanced honours and doctoral scholarships to support research into a vast range of diseases, disorders and disabilities in leading universities and research institutions Australia-wide. It supports revolutionary work such as organs-on-a-chip at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. These chips are microdevices lined with living human cells that mimic the actual tissue structures, functions and motions of whole organs from liver to lungs and intestines. The chip is a revolutionary way of diagnosing. I dedicate the following poem, which was written by a medical doctor, to dogs that have been killed in research in New South Wales:

    We called him “Rags”. He was just a cur,

    But twice, on the Western Line,

    That little old bunch of faithful fur

    Had offered his life for mine.

    And all that he got was bones and bread,

    Or the leavings of soldier grub,

    But he’d give his heart for a pat on the head,

    Or a friendly tickle and rub.

    And Rags got home with the regiment,

    And then, in the breaking away—

    Well, whether they stole him, or whether he went,

    I am not prepared to say.

    But we mustered out, some to beer and gruel

    And some to sherry and shad,

    And I went back to the Sawbones School,

    Where I still was an undergrad.

    One day they took us budding MDs

    To one of those institutes

    Where they demonstrate every new disease

    By means of bisected brutes.

    They had one animal tacked and tied

    And slit like a full-dressed fish,

    With his vitals pumping away inside

    As pleasant as one might wish.

    I stopped to look like the rest, of course,

    And the beast’s eyes levelled mine;

    His short tail thumped with a feeble force,

    And he uttered a tender whine.

    It was Rags, yes, Rags! who was martyred there,

    Who was quartered and crucified,

    And he whined that whine which is doggish prayer

    And he licked my hand and died.

    And I was no better in part nor whole

    Than the gang I was found among,

    And his innocent blood was on the soul

    Which he blessed with his dying tongue.

    Well I’ve seen men go to courageous death

    In the air, on sea, on land!

    But only a dog would spend his breath

    In a kiss for his murderer’s hand.


    4th June 2015

    Adjournment speech.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [3.46 p.m.]: Today I raise the issue of homelessness in New South Wales. Even though this issue has been addressed by both governments over time, it is becoming quite clear that the measure of any intervention or policy change would be a reduction in the number of homeless people across New South Wales. But, unfortunately, that is not the case. Even 2½ blocks from this Parliament several people are living in a terrible situation one block behind the courthouses where their walls are blankets and their protection is old doonas and filthy clothes. They are living in impoverished conditions right under our watch.

    The two major causes of homelessness are mental illness and domestic violence. Crisis teams and mental health intervention teams were established in the early 1980s under the Richmond Implementation program so that where mentally ill people were living in the community, very assertive and robust services were available to them and their families 24 hours a day. A fundamental principle of the program was to use a case management system and to form a therapeutic relationship with mentally ill people. What has been occurring, and is still occurring, is that a person will have a psychotic episode or another type of severe mental illness episode, he or she will be treated and then returned home or found housing somewhere. But the nature of a chronic mental illness is that episodes recur. If there is not proper intervention and support for these people, they will end up becoming homeless. Because of their mental illness and psychosis, they are unable to care for themselves and they wander the streets, frightened and paranoid and become lost within our community.

    In a robust and assertive mental health service these people form a relationship with a particular caseworker and they stay in contact with them. The key to proper mental health intervention is to watch out for early symptoms. That is very much the case in the work that has been done by Professor Patrick McGorry, OBE. He says we need to intervene early and form a relationship with mentally ill people to prevent further psychotic episodes or mental health issues which render them incapable of caring for themselves and becoming homeless.

    Another issue is the complex circumstance in Australia where one woman dies from domestic violence every week and one is hospitalised every three hours, which can lead to some becoming homeless. More than 25,000 domestic violence assaults occur in New South Wales each year, the vast majority of which are on women. Approximately 31 per cent of homelessness is caused by domestic violence. The Government must prioritise funding for accommodation services proven to help vulnerable women at risk of serious injury and death as a consequence of domestic violence. It is crucial that women and children have access to supported accommodation immediately upon presentation to the police or to other services where there is no safe alternative other than to leave their home. Being forced to leave home due to violence should not result in homelessness.

    Some reforms undertaken in 2014 under the Going Home Staying Home program have manifestly failed to protect women who have become homeless due to domestic violence. Instead, the New South Wales Government reduced 336 existing services to just 149 services. The tendering process awarded contracts to big non-government organisations, almost all of which were Christian organisations. These reductions in services have had a deleterious effect on women and children who are seeking help and it is the second main contributor to homelessness.


    26th May 2015

    Adjournment speech.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [6.41 p.m.]: I raise a matter that was brought to my attention yesterday by Animals Australia. The memorandum of understanding between the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government and the NSW Farmers Association states, “We … reaffirm our commitment to non-mandatory standards and guidelines for animal welfare”. New South Wales is the only State in Australia that does not uphold and adhere to the mandatory standards for animal welfare, particularly for farm animals. The Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals—Cattle is adopted nationally, except in New South Wales, as a consequence of a decision made late last year and confirmed in a document entitled “NSW Farming: Investing Locally, Connecting Globally—Memorandum of Understanding”, dated 25 March 2015.

    The concern is that today the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair, said that New South Wales is like every other State or Territory in Australia and is committed to these mandatory guidelines and standards. In fact, New South Wales is the only State that has a memorandum of understanding that does not enforce the guidelines and standards, or has agreed not to enforce them. A typical statement in a model code of practice can be found in the cattle code that aims to:

    Promote humane and considerate treatment of cattle and the use of good husbandry practices to improve the welfare of cattle in all types of cattle farming enterprises;

    Inform all people responsible for the care and management of cattle about their responsibilities; and,

    Set a minimum industry standard by defining acceptable cattle management practices.

    When the practice of mulesing in New South Wales was heralded to the world it caused an international crisis for the wool industry because of a campaign to boycott Australian wool. Even though we tried to provide mandatory pain relief after mulesing—at 45¢ a lamb—the code of practice did not uphold it and the New South Wales Government did not support the mandatory codes of practice. The Government should protect New South Wales farmers and their industries from the possible consequences of poor standards of animal protection and animal welfare. A serious situation has already occurred—the international boycott of Australian wool—which has caused problems for the wool industry. I am concerned that the agreement between the Liberal-Nationals Government and the NSW Farmers Association could result in a similar situation if the world and the importers of Australian and New South Wales products discover we have an even lower standard of animal protection and animal wellbeing than that to which we adhere nationally.


    17th November 2015

    Questions without notice.

    Koala Park Sanctuary.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. Earlier this month the Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, three charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for failure to provide veterinary treatment to emaciated koalas. The sanctuary had also been found previously to have breached the general standards for exhibited animals. Given this conviction and proven breaches of the standards, why has the departmental secretary not exercised his authority under section 30 (1) (a) of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act to cancel the park’s licence?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The Koala Park Sanctuary has entered a plea of guilty to three charges of failing to provide veterinary treatment to five koalas in its care. The charges were laid by the RSPCA under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. The failure to provide veterinary treatment related to the failure to investigate emaciated body condition and eye complaints, and the failure to provide treatment for dehydration and chlamydia infections.

    The matter has been adjourned to 2 February 2016 at Parramatta Local Court for sentence. In addition to the proceedings initiated by the RSPCA under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Department of Primary Industries has issued the Koala Park Sanctuary with seven directions with regard to koalas and other animals in the park. The directions issued include keeping animals’ records up to date, fixing enclosure fences, providing adequate shelter, removing debris within enclosures and providing adequate veterinary treatment for the koalas.

    The park has recently been criticised in the Sydney press and in a United Kingdom media article. That article raised several concerns. Some of these relate to the appearance of the facility and the perceived value for money of the entry fee. These are matters for prospective attendees to make up their own mind about. While some of the journalist’s conclusions about the state of the animals clearly are not an expert’s opinion, the article and supporting photographs suggest some animals are not in good condition and that a number of management standards are not being followed. The department will continue to work with the Koala Park Sanctuary to ensure compliance. It should be noted that a conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is a ground for suspension or cancellation of an exhibitor’s authority, and the department is mindful of this in its dealings with Koala Park Sanctuary.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate as to why the mindfulness has not moved to the cancellation of the Koala Park Sanctuary’s licence?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: As I said, the matter has been adjourned until 2 February 2016 at Parramatta Local Court for sentence. The department will continue to work with the park to ensure compliance. Also as I noted, a conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is grounds for suspension or cancellation. I suspect that we will know more about this matter once it has returned to court


    10th November 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, representing the Minister for Local Government. In 2013-14 more than 20,000 impounded dogs and cats were killed by local councils and the RSPCA. Given that section 64(5) of the Companion Animals Act states that councils have a duty to consider alternatives to killing, by what accountability mechanism does the Minister satisfy himself that councils are responsibly exercising that duty? And given that the Office of Local Government figures show that approved rescue groups under section 16(d) rehomed close to 8,000 animals rescued from death row last year, will the Minister explain why these organisations receive no funding from government?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a question of great detail which I will refer to my colleague the Minister for Local Government. I do remember, however, recently he asked me why we had not done something about the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service [WIRES] signs and when I checked, they were not our signs, they were WIRES’ signs. We need to check on this and I will take the question in good faith and pass it on to the Minister for a detailed answer.

    To date (4th February 2018) no response has ever been received.

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