• Mark Pearson opposes and condemns the Crown Land Management Bill 2016 in his second reading speech

     

    The Animal Justice Party opposes the Crown Land Management Bill 2016. It attempts to strike down the sense of home and belonging that Australians have for this country. Home is not only the home they own or rent but almost half of the land in New South Wales that belongs to them. It belongs to the people of New South Wales. This bill will destroy the principle that Crown land belongs to the people of New South Wales. A previous member spoke of a child who wrote to the Queen and the Governor-General concerning the St Albans common illustrating the community connection with the land. Indigenous people feel the connection to land, life, being, culture and heritage.

    The Government and Minister are acting ultra vires, outside the power vested in the Minister and Government by the people of New South Wales. Crown land includes native wildlife corridors and stock routes that supply water and an abundance of nutrition for animals. Presently, the community can leave home and visit protected and sacred places within the ownership of the State. The Animal Justice Party admits that there are problems with the administration and protection of Crown land but this bill does not address that to ensure that Crown land is nourished and enriched. The bill does not reflect the principle that Crown land fosters a sense of heritage and connection. This bill will cause Crown land to become vulnerable to the whim and indiscretion of a manager that may or may not be appointed by the Minister for local government or by a council. There will be a lack of accountability.

    This bill goes against the very spirit of what this House should be doing to protect that sense of heritage and connection between the people of New South Wales, their sense of ownership, and their willingness and desire to ensure that their land is not vulnerable to the financial and other sinister interests that will emerge if this bill is passed without even one, two or three amendments. For all these reasons, and because of this fundamental principle, the Animal Justice Party refuses to support and condemns the bill.

  • Debate speech regarding the Catholic Church and its history of child abuse

    ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

    Earlier this year I gave notice of a Motion condemning the Roman Catholic Church for its failure to protect children from abuse. The motion was rejected by the Government and will now be debated by the House. Below is my opening speech, in which I lay out the reasons of why I have chosen to target the Catholic Church. The debate has be adjourned so as to allow other Members to prepare.

    Some my ask why have I chose to raise this issue as it doesn’t have anything to do with animals? Firstly, it is an issue deeply personal to my heart as you will hear in my speech. Secondly, it reflects one of the core principles of the Animal Justice Party, that is, protection of our most vulnerable and giving a voice to those that either don’t have one or it is a voice that is not being heard.

    This post will be updated as the debate progresses.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I move:

    (1) That this House condemns the Roman Catholic Church in Australia for its abject failure to protect children from sexual abuse by members of its clergy and leadership, who either:

    (a) sexually assaulted children whilst they were in their pastoral care; or

    ( b) by omission, caused ongoing and aggravated suffering to child victims by failing to intervene and report these crimes to police in New South Wales and Australia over the past five decades, as evidenced before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    (2) That this House conveys its utter disgust and profound disappointment in Cardinal George Pell for his ongoing failure to protect the innocent child victims of routine egregious sexual abuse who sought his help and assistance over many years.

    Members might wonder why a fellow member of the Legislative Council would call upon this House to support a motion such as this when a royal commission is on foot. I think it is time—and it is expected by the traumatised victims and outraged community—for the Parliament to speak out on behalf of those who have elected us and for those who are not yet old enough to vote. It is time for New South Wales parliamentarians to speak to the actions of the church. We have parliamentary privilege and can therefore elucidate on the evidence and concerns that the judiciary cannot because of limitations on admissibility of evidence.

    Childhood sexual abuse has blighted the lives of too many young people and for too long society has refused to see, hear or speak about their pain. It has caused premature deaths through drug and alcohol abuse, risk‑taking behaviours, self-harm and suicide. It occurs within families and within educational, sporting, health, cultural and religious organisations—in fact, anywhere where adults are in authority over children. Children have been sexually abused by their music tutors, Scout leaders, swimming coaches, foster carers, doctors and dance teachers. Most damningly of all, they have been abused by those who give instruction about the moral standards required to guide them through life: their religious leaders.

    These pastors, priests and teachers are accorded great reverence and authority by not just their own religious hierarchies and communities but also mainstream society. Imagine that authority, by means of a person vested with its power sermonising from the pulpit or lecturing in the classroom, groping your genitals or sexually penetrating your body. Imagine the secrecy, the shame, the pain, the confusion and the fear and terror of not being believed, of being damned to hell if you tell. Imagine the waking nightmare of having participated, however unwillingly, in breaking the very moral laws you have been told to live by. What moral compass then becomes the guiding principle of those people’s lives? No wonder so many seek solace in obliteration.

    Why has my motion singled out the Roman Catholic Church? In various commissions and inquiries we have learned that paedophiles have been active in other religions and denominations such as the Anglican Church, the Salvation Army, Judaism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and obscure religious cults to name a few. There are four reasons why my motion has singled out the Catholic Church. I formed my position even before an article substantiating it entitled “Child sex abuse: Restoration of trust key to survival of Catholic Church” by Chris McGillion and Damian Grace was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 September. The first reason for this motion is that it is important that the culprits are singled out and not allowed to cowardly seek refuge in the shadow of the more broad term “institutional responses to child sexual abuse”.

    The second reason for this motion is the sheer volume of offending in the Catholic Church. In evidence given at the 2012 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations police figures showed that since 1950 there have been 10 times as many abuse cases in the Catholic Church as in the Anglican Church, which was the next largest group for rates of offending. Given that Anglicanism and Catholicism have historically been the two largest religious denominations in Australia, at 17 per cent and 25 per cent of the population respectively, the massive difference in prevalence is compelling evidence of a serious problem within the Catholic Church and is indicative of its failure to protect children.

    The third reason is the culture of clericalism in which the church leadership believes it is only answerable to itself. Obedience to canon law is of more importance than submitting priests to the secular criminal law system. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has stated, “The bishop has a duty to treat all priests as father and brother.” Patrick Parkinson, Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and a specialist in family law and child protection, argues that this has been interpreted by some as an obligation to protect priests and religious brothers from the criminal law.

    Examples of the impacts of clericalism include: transferring alleged offenders to other parishes or schools between parishes, interstate or overseas; permitting international trips for priest to undergo spiritual formation amidst child sexual abuse allegations; persuading complainants, victims and families to remain silent; ignoring schoolteachers’ repeated requests for action against alleged child sexual abuse offenders; and not intervening after inadvertently discovering offenders in the act of child sexual abuse.

    The final reason for this motion is the position of power and privilege that the Catholic Church has within society. The Catholic Church started out on the margins of Australian society. It was the spiritual home for Irish outcasts, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. With the declaration of World War I, the church battled against the State in fighting against conscription. As the decades passed, however, the leadership of the Catholic Church aligned itself with the conservative establishment—fighting communism, socialism and upholding rigid standards of sexual morality as secular society became more permissive.

    The conservative establishment has been happy to provide support and protection from oversight. In August 2002 then Archbishop George Pell was stood down during an investigation into sex abuse claims against him. During the course of the investigation Prime Minister John Howard contacted the archbishop to offer his support, and later publicly stated that he believed Dr Pell was innocent. In 1996, as public outrage grew over the failure of the Catholic Church to adequately respond to child sexual abuse, then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said:

    I was reassured that George said ‘yes’, he’d get stuck into it … I was told that he had put together a response … it’s not for me to sit in judgment … of whether the response was adequate or not.

    Cardinal Pell is on record as saying that he set up the Melbourne Response in 1996 after Mr Kennett told him, “Now you clean this thing up and there won’t be a royal commission.” In his essay “The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell” David Marr said:

    For twenty years, in the face of growing public anger about paedophile priests, political leaders had backed the Catholic Church. Despite protests from victims, their parents, Anglican bishops, lawyers, academics, child protection advocates, a number of Catholic priests, newspapers and police, the business of cleaning up the mess of child abuse had been left to the churches themselves. When Pell provoked an outcry by walking the paedophile Gerald Ridsdale into court in 1993, Jeff Kennett hosed down calls for a royal commission. When Pell was accused himself of abusing boys, John Howard blocked calls for a royal commission.

    The evidence uncovered by the media, whistle-blowers, as well as commissions and inquiries, has shown that the church cultivates an aura of untouchability. Through strategic relationships, it has been able to keep a lid on the scandal of its systemic failure to hold perpetrators accountable for abuse. One example of a disturbing collaboration between the police and the church is the activities of the Professional Standards Resource Group [PSRG]. The Police Integrity Commission investigation, known as Operation Protea, was established after the ABC’s Lateline program reported in 2013 that the church had an agreement with police to allow it to withhold information about paedophile priests. The investigation found that the police failed to act on multiple allegations of child sexual abuse raised in the PSRG meetings, a clear breach of their duty. This was done through a process of “blind reporting” where the names of alleged victims of child abuse and other details were deleted from reports to the police.

    Only recently, it was reported that the Catholic Church has finally agreed to cease blind reporting to police. Hundreds of child sex abuse cases going back decades may be reopened as police finally have access to the names of suspected paedophiles. So let us examine in more detail the failure of the Catholic Church to protect children from sexual abuse: In the words of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart in his evidence to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

    The Catholic church failed to act on the “horror story” of paedophiles in its midst. There was knowledge and a failure to act.

    Royal commission data shows that since 1980 the church had received child sexual abuse complaints from 335 people against 84 priests, covering the period 1950 to 1989. Campaigners say the true number of abuse victims could be as many as 10,000 children. Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, stated that under “Towards Healing” the largest number of complaints were made against the Christian Brothers, Marist Brothers and the De La Salle Brothers—all Catholic. In all, 2,215 victims had come forward and 1,700 people commenced the process, although not all claims were pursued or substantiated. The most complaints, 43 per cent, were made against religious brothers, 21 per cent against diocesan priests and 14 per cent against religious priests. Most of the abuse happened between 1950 and 1980 in orphanages and schools.

    As evidenced by both the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and the royal commission, time and again, over many decades, church authorities concealed the crime from the police, civil authorities, parishioners and Catholic school staff, pupils and their parents within the diocese. Archbishop Hart spoke about a “failure to act”, but that is not quite accurate. Church officials often did act, but in the worst possible way. Sexually abusing priests were frequently transferred to a new parish or a new school, where they continued to offend.

    The damage to the victims was immense. The breach of trust, secrecy and silence frequently caused deep psychological pain and disrupted a victim’s schooling or personal development. Victims felt hurt by knowing that their offender was being protected by the church. Many victims went on to live broken lives, struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, unable to form adult relationships or pursue stable employment. Sadly, many died young as a result of damaged mental and physical health. Police reports have detailed the suicides of at least 40 people sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Victoria.

    When I was only 16 years of age and in year 10 at Marist Brother High School, Hamilton, Newcastle, New South Wales, I witnessed Brother Patrick and Brother Romual walking up and down the aisles of the classroom and stopping near “desired” boys, placing one hand under their robes on their penis and masturbating it while running their other hand down the pants of boys and rubbing their bottom and genitalia. I observed these boys freeze in fear and confusion. At the beginning of each term we could select a new seat and desk in the classroom. The perimeter desks were up against the left and right walls. Boys would arrive as early as possible so they could clamour to a seat adjacent to a wall because they knew that this would position them too far from the Brother for him to be able to molest them. I reported those Brothers to another Brother who I respected. He tried to help, but nothing happened and he soon left the Brotherhood.

    The evidence is overwhelming that the leadership within the church looked the other way. This encouraged the church’s offenders to continue committing similar crimes. The offenders knew that their church status would protect them from being arrested and convicted. It was only through the incredibly brave and tenacious campaigning by the families and victims themselves and groups such as Broken Rites that the true scourge of clerical abuse became a matter of public knowledge and outrage. Over the past 30 years we have seen the scandal within the Catholic Church unfold. Some perpetrators were finally brought to justice. A number of priests were convicted and jailed. It took decades for their child victims to be believed and to experience vindication. In many other instances, charges could not proceed due to lack of evidence or due to the death or incapacity of the accused.

    And what was the response of the Catholic Church when these priests came before the courts? Who can forget the image of Cardinal, then Archbishop, Pell walking side-by-side with the notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale as they entered the court precinct for his trial. The message that Archbishop Pell and the Catholic Church signalled to the Australian community was, “We place the might and majesty of the church against these child victims.” Cardinal Pell has been subject to rigorous cross-examination before the royal commission about what he knew and when. At all times he seems to have not seen, not heard and not spoken out. In his own words: “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me”.

    As a Prince of the Church, it is clear that the investigation of sexual abuse of children by its servants is a low priority. Let us look at Gerald Ridsdale—just one example of what the church knew and what it did. At Ridsdale’s 1994 trial it was claimed that as early as 1971 he had been sent to a psychologist for treatment for his paedophilia. At Inglewood in 1973 a parent complained that Ridsdale had molested their son. A police officer spoke to Bishop Mulkearns, who promised to deal with Ridsdale, but he moved him on instead. Ridsdale was sent to and moved from five more parishes until he was sent overseas to New Mexico. He returned and was appointed chaplain at St John of God Hospital in Richmond, New South Wales, where he was finally arrested. He was charged with 30 counts of indecent assault against nine boys aged between 12 and 16 between 1974 and 1980. He was then convicted and sentenced in 1994 after pleading guilty to 46 charges of abusing 20 boys and one girl between 1961 and 1982.

    Given that the Catholic Church has portrayed itself as a moral pillar and has been accorded significant social status for its stance on sexual behaviour and moral authority, it beggars belief that its leaders would place themselves at arm’s length from the actions of those who carried the authority of the church into day-to day-life.

    The Catholic Church has failed abysmally to protect young people in its care. The leadership of the Catholic Church has consistently and deliberately, over many decades, prioritised the reputation of the Church and the protection of paedophile priests over the safety of children. Cardinal Pell may compare the Church to a transport company with the odd dodgy truck driver but in doing so he exposes the hypocrisy of an organisation that has fought to maintain the illusion of moral authority.

  • Adjournment Speech on Xenotransplantation

    XENOTRANSPLANTATION

    Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. There are currently xenotransplantation experiments occurring at Prince Alfred Hospital using baboons from the Wallacia breeding facility. A recent media expose described Frankenstein-like operations that transplanted organs from pigs into baboons. Millions of dollars of taxpayer‑funded research grants is used, but the hospitals are not required to provide details to the public about the nature of these experiments. Questions to the Minister have failed to yield answers.

    Human-to-human organ transplants are now routinely performed on patients with organ failure. Australia is a world leader for successful organ transplant outcomes but is twenty-second on the international list for organ donations. Public awareness is, however, improving. In 2015, 69 per cent of Australians indicated a willingness to become organ and tissue donors and there was a record 435 organ donations to 1,241 patients. The Federal and State governments have implemented a national reform program to increase donation rates. The program will implement a world’s best practice approach to organ and tissue donation for transplantation. Its aim is to increase clinical capacity and capability, and to increase community engagement and awareness in relation to organ donation.

    Unfortunately, the current rate of organ donation does not meet demand, and this has been used to justify xenotransplantation with animals. Xenotransplantation occurs predominantly with primates and pigs and is a death sentence for those animals. If xenotransplantation ever becomes a surgical practice there will be mass wastage preceded by enormous suffering for the animals. Sentient beings will be reduced to nothing more than spare parts and tens of thousands of animals will die miserable deaths in laboratory conditions.

    Xenotransplantation seriously impacts animal wellbeing. From the moment the animal is born it is unable to express natural behaviours and will suffer frustration, deprivation and stress. The sterile conditions in which the genetically engineered animals to be used for transplants will be kept poses a significant stress factor. To reduce the risk of exposure to disease sows have their pregnant wombs removed and the piglets are placed into a sterile environment. The piglet is unable to suckle from its mother, it is medicated and reared on artificial foods containing no animal products.

    Aside from the animal suffering involved in xenotransplantation, there are serious human health risks with this procedure. Possible problems with transplantation of whole organs from animals to humans include viral diseases transferred from animals, rejection of the organs by the patient’s immune system, and differences in structure and biochemistry between human and animal organs. Pigs contain endogenous retroviruses that are passed on to offspring in the DNA of normal chromosomes, and therefore cannot be eliminated. Viral sequences in host DNA can be activated to produce infectious viruses in mice, cats and gibbons that are closely related to leukaemia viruses and are a second cousin to HIV.

    The following are examples of diseases transferred from primates to humans: monkey pox is a virus originating in African monkeys causing a 10 per cent fatality rate in humans; the HIV-AIDS virus is thought to have come from the primate simian immunodeficiency virus [SIV]; seven laboratory workers died following exposure to Marburg virus through African green monkey kidneys; Ebola virus recently killed thousands of people in central Africa and has been linked to monkeys; and the herpes B virus is a common infection of macaque monkeys but in humans it can develop into a fatal neurological disease. Given the terrible animal suffering and massive wastage of sentient beings, the risks to human health and the expense involved in experimentation, would it not make more sense to save money and encourage a more compassionate outcome for all beings, by focusing our efforts and resources on community education programs to promote organ donations?

    These research materials were sourced by Dr Suzanne Pope.

  • Adjournment speech on the brutality, cruelty of the kangaroo meat industry & the betrayal of our National symbol

    I draw to the attention of the House the betrayal of the national symbol of Australia—the internationally recognised totem for Australia, the kangaroo—here on the Coat of Arms in our House, the Legislative Council, the Coat of Arms in the other place, the Legislative Assembly, and on the Coat of Arms of the Federal Parliament. The ultimate betrayal of kangaroos is undertaken every night in Australia when a beautiful, soft, gentle and harmless herbivore is hunted down and slaughtered in their thousands. It is the largest routine slaughter of a land-dwelling wild animal on earth. And for what reason?

    In the main it is their perceived conflict with agribusiness. This has led to a dirty and ugly pet food industry; but, moreover, a filthy, out-of-control, misleading and deceptive human consumption industry, for both domestic and export consumption. It is the dirty and dark secret of the Great South Land that is second only in scale of abuse and brutality to the treatment of the First Peoples, the Indigenous people of Australia. Analyses of carcasses and the meat that is in supermarkets and retail outlets, and analyses by countries of import such as Russia, have led to their own findings that this is a dirty and filthy industry. Contaminants such as E. coli, salmonella, faeces, antibiotic spray and rotting meat caused Russia to implement a ban in 2008, through to 2009, and then finally crown it in 2012. China is refusing to accept kangaroo meat, despite numerous applications by governments to do so. Europe is commencing its own analysis of imports of kangaroo products. Holland has put forward a motion and is preparing a bill to be the first member country to implement a ban on kangaroo meat.

    I approached Minister Speakman to refer this industry, after 22 years of no overview or review, to the relevant committee, but he refused. I will obtain the agreement of three committee members to have the committee undertake an inquiry into the New South Wales kangaroo management program—not plan, but program. No rock will be left unturned. Not one slaughter operation, not one bludgeoned joey, not one retrieved decapitated head will be ignored in the inquiry’s penetrating and forensic analysis of what has been up until now an unaccountable but bloody disgusting industry. For the first time light will be shed on a critical and fundamental, but completely ignored, fact that has been dismissed with contempt and disrespect: The profound Indigenous connection with this animal, the malu, or kangaroo.

    If the next kangaroo management program is signed off next December or January by the State and Federal Ministers for the environment, it will be challenged by the Indigenous people in the Federal Court and no doubt will go all the way to the High Court. The mass slaughter of kangaroos, which is sanctioned by the second people of Australia, is the mass slaughter of an animal that is a totem to many Indigenous people, central to their spiritual relationship with land and water and, moreover, intricately interwoven into the complex laws and lores of the First Peoples. If industry and governments ignore the slaughter and significance of kangaroos, the Indigenous people will have no option—which was the case with Mabo—but to go to the judiciary and, inevitably, the highest court in the land to seek the help of the courts in protecting those misunderstood and abused animals.

    mark-pearson-kangaroo-report-at-home

  • Greyhound Prohibition Bill 2016 second reading debate speech

    The Animal Justice Party overwhelmingly supports the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016. Last year I was asked to assist with developing a strategy after unfortunate evidence was gathered over several months in relation to live baiting. The training of greyhounds routinely involves a great deal of live baiting. Many trainers would arrive at a training track with various species—rabbits, possums, cats and piglets. One particular scene has haunted me ever since. It was not a one-off incident; it is systemic, it is part of the industry, it is the norm and it is integral to the industry. In broad daylight a possum, which is a nocturnal animal, was strapped to a lure. A cloth was placed over its shoulders and it was strapped down firmly by its lower legs. The only part of its body it could move was its tail. Owners paid $50 to train their dogs using that live bait.

    The lure was set off, with engines roaring, screaming and vibrating. This nocturnal animal was sped around the track. When it was stopped, the dogs were allowed to tear and rip at it. It then came back around to the start. The possum was kicked around and hit to see whether it was conscious. If it was still alive it was sent around again with other dogs. A possum that came back conscious would emit a very high-pitched squeal—as do kittens, piglets and rabbits, believe it or not, when suffering and in enormous distress. The possum to which I refer went around the track 23 times, and it was still conscious. If the owner of the dog was satisfied with the live baiting episode and the possum was still alive he could have his $50 refunded because the animal could be used for the next dog. The possum would be left there to die a long, lingering death—the police described it as torture.

    Justice McHugh subpoenaed 10 trainers to give evidence to the inquiry. Nine of them said—they could have lied but they did not—that they used live baiting to various degrees, and one refused to answer the question but certainly did not deny it. Therein lies the savagery of the greyhound industry. It is not a minority of trainers; it is not a one-off incident. Nine out of 10 trainers admitted to live baiting and that means the industry cannot save itself from itself.

    No regulator can save it from itself. The Government has rightfully decided that no government can save the industry from itself. That is why the Animal Justice Party and I personally overwhelming support the Baird Government in taking this historic, principled and ethical decision.

    The greyhound industry has a long history both here and afar. It is a history built on animal cruelty that traces the “sport” from the traditions of the elite and royalty to the “battlers’ sport” that it is portrayed as today. Its long history is important as it coincides with the dynamic shift of social and community expectation regarding our relationships with animals. It is clear that the industry has formulated its own demise, no doubt carrying innocent casualties with it of both the human and non-human kind. The industry and its core participants have ignored society’s shift regarding animals and their treatment. The shift places high expectations of those seeking to profit from animals and transcends political persuasions and socio-economic backgrounds. To pigeonhole love for animals as elitist and snobbery is an insult to working class everyday people, many of whom will take in a rescued greyhound as owners seek to dispose of them in the coming months when they no longer bring in revenue.

    It has been a widely known secret that the greyhound industry has systemic animal welfare issues. It is critical to note that those issues are systemic, not rare or in the minority. Stories of live baiting, mass graves, greyhound muscle men and over breeding have been common for a very long time. There has been a great deal of evidence about greyhound muscle men, which I will explain. When a greyhound has an injury it is very rarely taken to a vet or has a vet called for it. Instead, a decision is made to immediately breach a section of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that says it is an offence to fail to provide veterinary treatment. A greyhound muscle man is called in. People who have been in the industry have given clear descriptions of what muscle men do. If a dog has gathered a serious injury while racing and cannot perform the muscle men will try various practices. One of them is to strap the front two legs of a dog to a high tree branch and then stretch the bottom two legs to try to rectify the injury. No analgesia or pain relief is given while the muscle men do the job. That practice is systemic in the industry.

    In my previous job I was privy to a large amount of evidence but not enough to bring about prosecutions at the level required. It was only in early 2015 that the evidence exposed in the Four Corners broadcast “Making A Killing” that I unfortunately witnessed as I assisted in obtaining that evidence for the program and the police. The exposé documented what has been spoken about a great deal today. The important thing is the program was the catalyst for the establishment of the commission of inquiry. It utilised covert video footage of the most appalling cruelty and suffering obtained by animal activists—those passionate everyday people exposing acts which the government, authorities and the industry could not or would not investigate and rectify. This is a testament to the everyday people who seek to right the wrongs of this world, which include those committed to voiceless animals beholden to our care that have suffered at the hands of callous people who knowingly committed illegal activity day in and day out.

    Thanks to the Government and the commission of inquiry led by Michael McHugh the public and the lawmakers of this State—and, indeed, across the globe—have had the truth revealed to them. I repeat that it is truth. The facts contained in the report by a conservative and esteemed former judge are not fictional or delusional. The bare facts as revealed by the McHugh report are that this industry has implicitly condoned as well as caused the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of healthy greyhounds, engaged in the barbaric practice of live baiting, and caused and will continue to cause injuries to greyhounds that range from minor to catastrophic. An enormous amount of catastrophic injuries will occur as a direct consequence of the genetic musculoskeletal structure of the animal as well as the race. Those things are fundamental to the industry and cannot be turned around. They are part of the industry and cannot be changed; however, they are unacceptable.

    The McHugh report also found that the industry has deceived the community concerning the extent of injuries and deaths caused during race meetings and it has failed to demonstrate that in the future it will be able to reduce the deaths of healthy greyhounds to levels the community could tolerate. I am sure many in the House will debate the finer points of the economics, jobs and the complexities that come with making such a tough but brave and just decision to shut down an industry. As a member of the Animal Justice Party I will discuss a few other aspects of this industry.

    The greyhound racing industry likes to claim that greyhounds are an ancient breed of racing dog going back to biblical days, with thousands of year of adaptation. Modern genetic testing shows differently. In fact, greyhounds are descended from herding dogs such as the St Bernard and the wolfhound, hardly known for their light frames or speed. The selection process is relatively recent, being only a few hundred years old. Breeding selection intensified with the commercialisation of the industry, placing considerable pressures on the greyhound’s musculoskeletal structure. Modern greyhounds have been bred for larger muscle mass, lower body fat and a higher overall muscle-to-bone ratio than other canine breeds. This intensive breeding selection has resulted in significant animal welfare issues for a large numbers of animals.

    Greyhounds have been shown to suffer from osteochondrosis dissecans, a genetic predisposition causing growth plate fracture in young dogs and hock joint fractures in adult dogs. Hock joint fractures are extremely common injuries experienced during racing. Injuries to the carpal and tarsal joints are also common in racing greyhounds, resulting in an increased risk of osteoarthritis and potential long-term lameness. Risk factors cited are heredity, rapid growth, anatomic conformation, trauma and dietary imbalances. Of these, heredity and conformation have been scientifically supported.

    The fact is and always will be that in order for the industry to exist greyhounds must be bred in excess to replace the dogs existing and to maintain race participation numbers. Greyhounds that do not participate in the greyhound racing industry have a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years. For the industry’s greyhounds, the life expectancy is often far shorter. Many are put down before the age of 4½ years. That is another systemic blight on the industry. Over the past 12 years approximately 97,783 greyhounds were whelped in New South Wales. The McHugh report found, after taking into consideration a multitude of factors, that up to 68,000 of those dogs had been slaughtered simply because they were either too slow or could no longer pay their way.

    We cannot tolerate an industry that kills that many dogs because they do not make the grade. What was their fate? Appalling brutality and suffering. If they were lucky it was a bullet to the skull and a mass grave; the unlucky ones got baseball bats to the skulls and put into a crab trap and thrown into a river. In the 2014 committee inquiry into the industry evidence was also given that unwanted dogs were drowned, gassed and hung in New South Wales by Australian trainers and breeders.

    From the age of 12 months the training process commences with a “breaking-in” process—sometimes referred to as “education”. Breaking-in involves an intensive form of training during which the animal first learns to chase a lure. In many cases the lure used is a live animal termed “bait”. This widespread and rampant practice has been a criminal offence since 1979. The animal used for bait is often a terrified rabbit, possum, piglet or kitten. It also harms the welfare of those so deeply involved in an industry that has at its fundamental core systemic brutality and cruelty to animals.

    On the Four Corners program we saw—and I saw the complete video—children as young as 10 shown to be unwilling witnesses to this appalling treatment of animals. Members will recall a child being held by the hand and made stand in front of a possum upon which three greyhounds were set. The possum was torn to pieces. This is obviously common practice; how can it be welfare for those people? This bill is not only about the animal issue—dogs, possums, rabbits, piglets, cats, et cetera—but it is also about bringing people into a better way of compassionate living and children not being exposed to brutalities upon animals.

    Since 2007, despite the best efforts of volunteer-run greyhound rescue and rehoming groups across the State, Greyhound Racing NSW has only rehomed 593 greyhounds through its Greyhounds As Pets program, at a cost of $200,000 per year. That is unacceptable. Justice McHugh put it simply when he said:

    The greyhound is simply a gambling instrument, no different from a card in a poker game or a handle on a poker machine.

    This bill is a historic document and one that will end a cruel industry in an ordered manner which I support. I commend Mike Baird for his leadership in reviewing the report and evidence, and making the difficult yet right decision to introduce the bill. I strongly commend the bill to the House.

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