• THE ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY DEFENDS INTRODUCED WILDLIFE

    11th October 2017

    Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2017.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:41): I speak to the Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2017. First, while the Animal Justice Party does not support the bill, I note that we oppose only one key section. That is the increased funding for killing so-called “pest species”. We had hoped to propose some sensible and proactive amendments but, as this is a money bill, that can only be done in the other place. I will touch on those amendments a little later. In relation to the Animal Justice Party’s concerns, my understanding is that the bill seeks to join general pest animal management funding with the existing locust fund, which generates its income from a levy placed on the landholders. While funding for locust control remains the main priority, residual funds will be used to target those species that are deemed to be pests with the cheapest, yet cruellest, forms of killing control—a control method that has been proven time and time again not to work in the end. In fact, it has the opposite effect in that mass slaughter provides only a quick, forced population control result.

    Professor Tony English of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine stated that, despite 200 years of shooting, poisoning and trapping, feral animal numbers continue to rise. Feral animal populations have thrived not due to the setting aside of national parks, but due to the massive degradation and devegetation of the landscape that has compromised natural ecosystems and their native species, thus creating a niche for feral animals. Much research has been published about the crude killing methods of control. It reveals that removing an introduced species from an ecosystem that has adapted to its existence, to a point, has a negative ripple effect for other animals. A basic example is the wiping out of rabbits in certain areas. While farmers rejoiced, it caused a dramatic decrease in quoll numbers because our native raptors, rather than preying on defenceless, prolific rabbits, turned to preying on quolls. Quoll numbers decreased, raptors struggled for food, and more and more consequential changes occurred down the food chain.

    We cannot go back to 1769 in relation to introduced species. Foxes, wild dogs, wild pigs, rabbits, cats, mice and rats have been born here for many generations and now fill an ecological niche. Given the massive habitat loss and changes in landscape, mostly due to agribusiness and the forestry industry, we must accept that our ecosystems are evolving and adapting. Rather than, as this bill appears to propose, providing a new avenue of funding for 1080 poisoning programs, mass slaughters, cruel hunting techniques and lethal viruses that cause long, lingering deaths, we should be investing in the research and development of more humane and non-lethal, but effective, control methods. While I note that there is a research and development area within the Department of Primary Industries, it is limited by general funding that is provided to the entire department. There is no designated fund to evolve the area past being more than a mechanism to support more profitable animal farming. Sadly, in regard to animal welfare it is merely a token gesture.

    Our amendment idea is simple and, since I cannot move the amendment in Committee, I urge the Minister and the Government to think seriously about its intentions and desired outcomes. Simply put, we call for a proportion of the residual funds—that is, what is left once the allocation for locust control has been made—to go to funding specific research and development of more humane and non-lethal methods of introduced animal control. We propose that no less than 25 per cent of the residual funds be provided and utilised only for introduced animal control research and development, and for such programs that are shown to be effective in other parts of the world, such as immunosterility contraceptive methods. These methods are being used with wild horses in Canada and with elephants in Africa, and are being trialled with some success with possums in New Zealand.

    But to ensure transparency and an accurate cost-benefit measurement, we also suggest that an annual report be provided outlining where the funds were spent and the outcomes and trials conducted as part of the specific introduced animal management plan. This report should also show the percentage of funding allocated in excess of the minimum of 25 per cent. Overall, our aim with this proposal is to ensure that introduced animal management provided by government tackles the long-term strategic view of genuine population control through humane and effective, non-lethal means. If funds are to be used to kill animals in the most barbaric and cruel ways, based purely on cost, it is only reasonable that a portion of those funds go into research and development of, not just more humane methods, but better long-term outcomes in reducing innocent introduced animal populations.

  • Vivisection

    THE STATE OF NSW LOCAL POUNDS

    19th September 2017

    Adjournment speech.

    Council Pounds.

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (17:58): For many years I worked at Animal Liberation NSW and it was not unusual for me to receive complaints from distressed individuals about the fate of companion animals held in council pounds. When I was elected to Parliament, amongst the first calls my office received were in regard to the terrible conditions of some council pounds—allegations of outright cruelty and neglect of impounded animals, high kill rates and unacceptably low rehoming rates. For a nation that prides itself on its relationship with “man’s best friend” and the frequently cited observation that companion animals are “part of the family”, we discard tens of thousands of dogs and cats each year. These animals often end up in council pounds and face an uncertain future. That future is dependent upon the resources invested by individual councils to provide decent facilities, caring staff and a commitment to working with rescue groups to rehome as many animals as possible.

    Improvement in reducing kill rates and increasing rehoming rates across New South Wales must be acknowledged as being due to the enormous efforts of volunteer and self-funded rescue and rehoming groups that outperform council pounds and authorised agencies such as RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League. New South Wales statistics collected for the period 2013-14 show that council pounds rehomed 5,549 cats and dogs, and killed 14,641 animals, the vast majority being healthy animals. The RSPCA rehomed 10,718 but killed 12,641, with one-third being killed for failing the behavioural temperament test. Community rescue groups rehomed approximately 8,000 and euthanased fewer than 200, all for reasons of genuine illness or severe behavioural problems.

    In my travels to regional areas, I often meet with carer groups that work hard to improve the lives of impounded animals and do their best to work with councils to rehome cats and dogs. Frustration is evident in pound reform advocates who observe a lack of accountability and transparency in regard to councils discharging their obligations under the Companion Animals Act. Advocates complain about being referred between the Office of Local Government and NSW Department of Primary Industries when complaining about animal welfare in pounds.

    Although councils are required to comply with both the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Code of Practice for Cats and Dogs in Animal Boarding Establishments, many councils are either unaware or fail to comply. Examples include Griffith pound’s failure to provide daily exercise for dogs, Singleton pound, where animals are exposed to the extremes of weather, and Wagga pound where cats were placed alive in freezers. Evidence from the McHugh Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry found that Kempsey Shire Council Dog Pound’s record-keeping was so deficient it could not account for the number of greyhounds surrendered. The use of more than 250 millilitres of euthanasia drugs was not recorded.

    I note that pounds are still legally allowed to shoot dogs and kill cats by direct needlestick to the heart or peritoneal cavity. These are marked down in reports as “euthanasia”, with some councils dumping bodies at the local tip. The public would be outraged if they knew. The public are generally unaware of the state of pounds, which can be hidden away near council tips and water treatment sites. A number of council pounds are failing to adhere to the requirements to be open for a minimum of four hours per day, making it difficult for people to reunite with their lost cats or dogs. Many pounds also refuse public access, making adoptions and rehoming difficult. I believe that a comprehensive audit undertaken by the Office of Local Government of all New South Wales council pounds, with findings and recommendations, is the only way the public can obtain a truly accurate account of the state of New South Wales pounds and the care that they provide to impounded companion animals.

  • MARK PEARSON’S SPEECH OPPOSING THE BILL TO REMOVE HOMELESS PEOPLE FROM MARTIN PLACE

    9th August 2017

    Second reading speech.

    Sydney Public Reserves (Public Safety) Bill 2017.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (17:24): 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 IS NOT A SPORT

    9th August 2017

    Adjournment speech.

    Pig dogging.

    PIG DOGGING

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (22:59): Pig dogging, a sport of bloodlust, is a 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 the dog and the pig. In addition to its barbarity, it 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. 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, which is when a hunter stabs into the stomach or chest to puncture the pig’s heart before leaving it to bleed out.

    The bloodthirsty hunts cover large areas and it is difficult for hunters to maintain contact with their dogs. Pigs are often mauled for long periods and often die a slow lingering 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. The practice was documented on a special ABC7.30 report in 2012 and is something that even pig doggers themselves admit is commonplace. Members may be aware of my travels across regional and rural areas of New South Wales. These trips are vital in listening to the members of the public who feel they are not being listened to or are too scared to speak up about this rampant animal cruelty in their communities.

    A common concern expressed to me is about the issue 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 veterinarian bill. Some dogs are merely dumped at pounds because they do not show the killer instinct. The even unluckier ones who do not get dumped or re-homed are brutally killed or used as bait for blooding other dogs. Hunters who use pig dogging claim that they are attempting to control pig populations, despite the fact that hunting is 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 debunked 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. 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 a pack‑hunting mentality. I have had many reports to my office of alcohol and drug weekend 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 from witnessing this violence firsthand are extremely worrying. What I and many people find most disturbing is that in 2017 pig dogging remains legal in New South Wales. I 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.

     

  • THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF KILLING

    1st June 2017

    Adjournment speech.

    Perpetration induced traumatic stress.

    PERPETRATION-INDUCED TRAUMATIC STRESS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:04): Today I extend the discussion on the deleterious effects certain occupations have on our personal wellbeing. Our first thoughts, naturally, turn to our emergency services such as our police, ambulance personnel, firefighters and the like. But what about the less visual jobs—the less traditional jobs that, when we pause to think about it, 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 “Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing”, Rachel MacNair creates the new term perpetration-induced traumatic stress [PITS]. PITS, MacNair states, is a form of post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. 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 cafe and killed Man Monis, on the other hand, would be sufferers of PITS. Sufferers of PITS, argues MacNair, include 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 is 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 US found that 85 per cent 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 a 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, it is widely known that offenders that commit acts of animal cruelty often use it as a stepping stone to cruelty inflicted upon humans. The police recognise this as a serious matter. A most notorious example of this is the case of Anita Cobby’s killers, who enjoyed committing atrocious acts of bestiality, torture and killing of 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. 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 and the slaughterhouse workers who have this enormous burden placed upon their shoulders.

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