• Marks Impassioned speech opposing the bill to remove homeless people from Martin Place

    The Animal Justice Party is absolutely dumbfounded by the Sydney Public Reserves (Public Safety) Bill 2017. I find it embarrassing that, in 2017, I am speaking to such a draconian, disgraceful, unconscionable piece of legislation.

    When the police arrest these people and pack up their very meagre belongings—as Mr Shoebridge pointed out, even the tiniest things; they could be photographs, locks of hair, a gift given to them by very important people—they are not valued in the way these homeless people value them, but they are going to be wrapped up and taken from them. It is questionable whether they will be returned. When the police arrest them and move them on, where will these people go? Where is their chance? Where is their space?

    It is important to note that one of the safest places—believe it or not—for homeless people to gather is in the city where it is busy and people and police are about, and Parliament and a hospital are nearby. Whether it be Martin Place or wherever they have chosen to gather in the city, they do so because living in a dark corner in Kings Cross or Newtown or any other backstreet is far more dangerous and jeopardises their wellbeing and safety. They come into the city for this sense of safety. But because a particular member of Parliament might find it uncomfortable to look upon these people we now have to remove this distasteful vista and push them away so we can have the space back . We do not know what has happened to them.

    I support the suggestions made by the Hon. Mick Veitch and Mr David Shoebridge. For God’s sake, we are a civilised society. The measure of a civilisation is how we take the vulnerable, the sick, the weak, the needy under our wings whatever the situation is that has caused these people to live in such a way that they are homeless. The notion that they are being belligerent and obstructive and may be choosing to live this way is utter rubbish. Even if some comment that this is the way they want to live, that person has a story to tell about why they have come to that decision. We cannot turn our backs on these people and treat them in this way.

    The aspect of section 7 that astounds me is that the provisions of the bill apply if the police officer believes on reasonable grounds that the person’s occupation of the reserve materially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the rights of the public. Using a broader definition of enjoyment, these people are enjoying the relatively safe space here in the city. How could they be considered to be materially interfering with other members of the public? I have seen no complaint, I have heard no claim that another person’s liberty has been materially interfered with by a person who puts a very small, very uncomfortable, cold tent in a street next to another tent where people can walk freely on either side.

    We need to face this problem head-on, not dodge it and not punish people for finding themselves in a terrible situation through no fault of their own. It is time that we turned our minds to understanding compassion and how it relates to civilisation. One of the best measures of human beings is whether they honestly address problems, take responsibility for them, and work proactively together to solve them. We must work with people in this dreadful situation and address homelessness. Not only have they experienced bad luck and terrible situations but this Government has also put in place many mechanisms that obstruct their free access to the liberty of a home.

    The Animal Justice Party absolutely opposes this legislation, which is draconian and an embarrassment to this and the other House. I condemn the bill.

  • Pig Dogging – A “Sport” of Bloodlust

    Pig dogging; the cruel and barbaric practice in which specially bred dogs are forced to hunt wild pigs. Pig dogging or “dogging” as it is generally known, represents a growing pastime based on the cruellest and most brutal form of hunting in Australia. In fact, it is the only form of legal hunting in Australia that sets one animal against another, resulting in immense suffering and distress to both dog and pig. In addition to its barbarity, it is also has a range of associated social, biosecurity, human safety and ecological issues.

    For the purpose of explanation, many in the House may not be aware of the true reality of pig dogging, in simple terms, pig-dogging involves the tracking, bailing, pinning, and mauling of wild pigs by specially-blooded pig dogs. Suffering and death is the name of the game and both dog and pig are the victims.

    The dogs risk being mauled and gored by pigs fighting for their lives, with Facebook posts often showing human hunters looking on in laughter. Token efforts from some hunters to fit their pig dogs with protective collars and breastplates do little to prevent serious and life ending injuries to their supposedly beloved dogs.

    If this is not cruel enough for people’s palette, then spare a thought for the immeasurable suffering of the pigs. In their struggle to escape, terrified pigs are savaged and may even be mauled to death if not found quickly by the human hunter. The standard method of death is by “sticking” – this is the stabbing of the stomach or chest to puncture the heart – before leaving them to bleed out.

    This is hardly a “humane” death.

    Despite all efforts to kill these sentient beings in this so called ‘humane’ way, this is rarely the reality. These bloodthirsty hunts cover large areas and it’s difficult for hunters to maintain contact with their dogs. Pigs are often mauled for long periods and often die a slow death before the humans reach the victim. This is in clear breach of current animal cruelty laws and regulations. It has even been seen that in many cases, hunters actually encourage their dogs to maul the pigs. A practice which was documented on a special ABC 7:30 Report back in 2012 and something that even pig doggers themselves admit is common place.

    I think it is fair and accurate to say that the majority of the community are probably unaware of this recreational bloodlust. But, once aware, there is no doubt in my mind that any decent person would find this barbaric form of hunting to be shocking and appalling. More so when we factor that this cruelty is actively promoted by Government agencies such as the Department of Primary Industries, the very government agency responsible for the welfare of every animal in this state.

    Members may be aware of my travels across regional and rural areas of NSW. These trips are vital in listening to members of the public who feel they are not being listened too or are too scared to speak up about this rampant animal cruelty in their communities. A common issue expressed to me, is that of injured and abandoned pig dogs. Dogs that are mauled and mutilated by the defensive acts of terrified pigs are often abandoned or left to suffer due to hunters not wanting to pay the vet bill.

    Some dogs are merely dumped at pounds because they don’t show the “killer instinct”. The even unluckier ones who don’t get dumped or re-homed are brutally killed or used as bait for other dogs to be ‘blood’ trained.

    Minister Blair likes to raise the issue of so called ‘pest’ animals and wild dogs, yet instead of blaming the animals maybe he should be looking at the hunting fraternity. It is common knowledge that lost pig dogs in the large rural areas of western NSW contribute to the wild dog population. This also increases the possibility of these highly-aggressive selectively bred hunting dogs interbreeding with dingoes creating a large, super-aggressive canine predator in the Australian landscape.

    Hunters who use pig dogging, claim that they are attempting to control pig populations, despite the fact that hunting is simply not a successful method of animal control. In addition, there have been many reports of hunters releasing pigs into national parks to increase the geographic spread of pigs for hunting. They also purposely do not take small pigs or sows thus ensuring ‘sport’ for future seasons. The fact is that this is about killing animals for sport, not for population control. A 2009 critique by the Invasive Species Council of Australia debunks the claim that hunters are conservationists. In reality, hunters have created a ‘sport’ based on suffering, cruelty and death. It has also spawned an industry in dog breeding and trading as well as commercial accessories such as GPS trackers, protective collars, jackets and breastplates.

    This is an industry they don’t want to see die, but in fact grow. Therefore, why would they actually want to eradicate so called feral animals?

    Pig dogging is the worst form of hunting and goes largely unchecked and unregulated. It often involves people who may have criminal records and therefore cannot obtain a gun licence to hunt. It involves pack hunting mentality and I have had a many report come to my office of alcohol and drug weekends sprees by pig doggers looking for a cheap thrill at the expense of innocent animals.

    Furthermore, children are often present on pig-dogging hunts, and the lasting effects on them of witnessing this violence first-hand are extremely worrying. Teaching children to chase, torture and kill animals is cruel and further ingrains the bloodlust desire inherent in this so called “sport”.

    What I and many people find most disturbing is that in 2017, pig dogging remains legal on NSW. I would put to this House that by its very brutal nature, it is impossible to participate in this form of hunting without compromising the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. Few, apart from its direct supporters, would mourn the end of this industry of bloodlust passing into history. It will then appropriately reside in the dark parts of our history with such other blood sports as bear-baiting, cock-fighting, and greyhound coursing.

    Pig dogging is a blight on our reputation as a humane and developed society, and it must stop.

  • The Psychological Consequences of Killing

    Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing

    I rise today to extend the discussion on the deleterious effects certain occupations have on our personal well-being.  Our first thoughts, naturally, turn to our emergency services such as our police, ambo’s, fire fighters, and the like. But what about the less ‘visual’ jobs, the less traditional jobs that, when we pause to think about, have very serious trauma attached to them. One such occupation that has, to my knowledge, never been considered seriously in this country, is that of the slaughterhouse worker.

    In the study In Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing Rachel MacNair gives rise to the term Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS). PITS, MacNair states is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However the distinction between the two is that PITS is caused not by being a victim or rescuer in trauma, but by being an active participant in causing trauma.

    Take the Martin Place siege for example, according to MacNair the survivors and witnesses would be sufferers of PTSD. The police, who stormed the Lindt café and killed Man Monis, on the other hand, would be sufferers of PITS.

    Sufferers of PITS, argues MacNair, is extended to slaughterhouse workers, where it is socially acceptable and in fact expected for them to cause trauma, including death. MacNair describes the symptoms of PITS as including drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, increased paranoia, a sense of disintegration, as well as dissociation or amnesia.

    This less publicly discussed or understood psychological trauma suffered by slaughterhouses workers is not accidental. In fact, one would say it iss intentional as society becomes increasingly distanced from the realities of modern day food production and the business of killing animals for food. A study conducted recently in the U.S found that 85% of the meat-eating participants stated that if they personally had to kill an animal to obtain meat, they would not be able to do it. However, they were happy to pay another person to perform the task of killing, thereby acknowledging the trauma associated with such an occupation placing the burden on the shoulders of the slaughterhouse worker.

    As Paul McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”. The business of killing living, sentient beings on mass scale is a violent, bloody task. Not only do these slaughterhouse workers face serious physical health hazards daily, but they also experience large-scale violence and death that most of us will never have to, nor want to encounter.

    In our society, we have a common understanding that taking pleasure in the cruel death of a helpless animal is an antisocial and potentially psychotic characteristic. In fact, its widely know that offenders that commit acts of animal cruelty often use it as a stepping stone to cruelty inflicted upon humans. A most notorious example of this is in the case of Anita Cobby’s killers, who enjoyed committing atrocious acts of bestiality, torture and killing on sheep, goats and other animals.

    A research paper published in 2008 by Jennifer Dillard titled A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees set a precedent by calling for legal redress for slaughterhouse workers due to psychological trauma. This trauma is directly caused by their daily experience of “large-scale violence and death” within an institutional culture that does little to reduce animal or human suffering.

    This is an interesting notion, if we think about the successful class action against James Hardie in relation to asbestos related suffering and deaths.  It’s not unreasonable to consider that just as soldiers fighting in wars suffer PTSD deserve acknowledgement, support and assistance, that slaughterhouse workers too should have this level of support. Will we see a class action brought forward against the wealthy corporations by those paid to commit violence on animals for PTSD, PITS, alcohol abuse or drug abuse?

    The social effects of slaughterhouses are harmful and far-reaching, and the legal regime and the general public must act to reduce those deleterious effects on society. It affects families, communities, and relationships. The strongest message we as citizens or consumers can send is that we do not want to participate in an industry that profits from suffering, pain and death. We owe it to the people and the animals caught up in the business of killing.

  • Adjournment Speech-The concept of Wild Law

    WILD LAW

    Wild law, also known as Earth jurisprudence, extends the Western understanding of governance which focuses solely on human interests to include the concept of governing for the benefit of the whole Earth and its inhabitants. Wild law is Earth-centric rather than anthropocentric. Animals, plants, waterways and ecosystems have intrinsic rights to exist and flourish.

    New Zealand, Bolivia and India are leading the way in formulating wild law that protects the right of natural systems in perpetuity.

    Wild law is based on humankind’s most primeval understanding that we share our environment with all living beings, giving and taking in balance. The ancient lore of the Aboriginal peoples ensured that more than 1,000 generations thrived on this island continent without degrading natural ecosystems. However, within 250 years of European colonisation our environment has become severely damaged. Many plants and animals are at the brink of extinction, forests and grasslands are depleted, waterways have been poisoned and our reefs and mangroves are dying. Animal agriculture has polluted our groundwater, eroded our precious soils and destroyed vast tracts of native habitat.

    The Western view of the environment sees an expendable resource for profit and pillage. For the sake of future generations, government must incorporate wild law into our regulatory framework.

    How do we go about enshrining Earth jurisprudence into our laws?

    The modern originator of wild law, academic lawyer, Cormac Cullinan, in his “A Manifesto for Earth Justice” proposed that ecosystems be given legal personhood with enforceable legal rights. There is precedence for giving non-humans legal personhood, with corporations being given legal rights to promote commerce and trade. If corporate personhood is required for healthy economies, then why not legal personhood for the protection of natural systems that ensure the very survival of the planet? Wild law is in the early stages of evolution as modern legal doctrine. The framework is little more than a philosophical basis for developing legislation, policies and environmental protection, but there are encouraging recent developments.

    Australia was once a progressive nation. We were at the forefront of the growth of international human rights and the establishment of the United Nations. In the development of wild law, we are nowhere to be seen.

    Bolivia is world leader in wild law, drawing upon their indigenous concept of Pachamama, which means Mother Earth, in the adoption of their 2009 constitution:

    Pachamama is a living dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living beings.

    The Bolivian Constitution gives natural systems the right to live, biodiversity, clean water and air. In a landmark agreement between the New Zealand Government and the Iwi people, the Whanganui River was granted legal personhood. The river and tributaries become a single entity—Te Awa Tupua—with legal rights and interests overseen by guardians, including an Iwi elder. Following on from the New Zealand agreement, the High Court in India granted legal personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, appointing three State officials as guardians. The judges wrote, “Ganga and Yamuna provide spiritual and physical sustenance.”

    Wild law is the modern practice of an ancient knowledge that seeks to prevent us from wreaking our own destruction.

    Will we act in time?

    Our survival depends upon it.

  • Adjournment Speech on Rewilding our shared environment

    The Animal Justice Party supports the acquisition of land to protect, conserve and expand wilderness, including the rewilding of land once used for animal agriculture. Over the past 200 years we have lost 75 per cent of our rainforests, nearly 50 per cent of all forests and 99 per cent of south-eastern Australia’s temperate grasslands. The remaining ecosystems are under constant threat of clearing and in desperate need of protection. It is a national shame and a disgrace. We need to start looking at ways to bring back life into areas that have been stripped of biodiversity. In Australia ecologists focus on rehabilitating landscapes by killing animals that are deemed to threaten biodiversity. We have poisoned, shot and bludgeoned to death millions of foxes, rabbits, pigs, goats, cats, horses, camels, dingoes and kangaroos over the past hundred years, all in the name of conservation. Our landscapes continue to degrade, and it is clear that we must do things differently.

    In the United States and Europe the concept of rewilding with animals is seen as part of the solution. Rewilding is a critical step in restoring self-regulating ecosystems. Rewilding acknowledges that natural processes are complex and that the interplay between flora and fauna allows nature to evolve to take care of itself. Species are introduced or reintroduced based on the role they can play in an environment. After initial support, they are left to create the balance required. The reintroduction of apex predators such as wolves is one example of successful environmental repair. In Yellowstone National Park grey wolves had been hunted to extinction, and by the 1990s ecologists were concerned about the damage caused by large herds of elk. Once wolves were re‑established in the park, their predation on the elk reduced the damage caused to vegetation. The elk broke into smaller groups, foraged less and moved more frequently, allowing grasslands to recover. Scavenger species began to thrive again, with ravens, eagles, coyotes, lynx and bears feeding on wolf‑kill remains. Insects that fed off the rotting carcasses became the food of smaller birds and rodents.

    It is time to trial the benefits of rewilding in the Australian landscape. Just as in Yellowstone, we have taken our apex predators out of the ecosystem. The mass killing of dingoes changed the environment, and at the same time we introduced species such as foxes and cats. Smaller native predator species such as quolls and goannas struggled with habitat loss. Quolls once numbered in the hundreds of thousands and are now a threatened species. It was not until quoll numbers plummeted that rabbits were able to gain an ecological toehold. A recent trial reintroducing dingoes into Sturt National Park has shown early evidence that dingoes suppress cat and fox populations, with smaller mammals and marsupials surviving in increasing numbers.

    Returning apex predators to the environment is only one part of the equation. Their relationships within ecosystems are critical. Research and evidence-based trials must be undertaken, and we should be open‑minded about what constitutes an apex predator. We cannot go back in time. Foxes, dogs and cats are now native animals; they have been born here for many generations and now fill an ecological niche. Given the massive habitat loss and change in landscapes, we must accept that our ecosystems are evolving and adapting. Rewilding is about allowing evolution and adaptation to occur while reducing destructive human activities. One bulldozer in one day can take out an ecosystem that has evolved for millennia, yet we demonise the fox and the cat. Thousands of hectares of degraded sheep paddocks are more of a threat to biodiversity than a thousand dingoes or foxes. It is well past time to protect and expand our wilderness, for the sake of all the species that share this fragile, ancient land.

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