• mulesing

    Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures Bill 2019

  • AJP Establishes a select committee to inquire into PoCTAA enforcement in NSW

    8th August 2019

    ANIMAL CRUELTY SELECT COMMITTEE

    Establishment

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I move:

    That private members’ business No. 111 outside the order be precedence be considered in a short form format.

    Motion agreed to.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:48): I seek leave to amend private members’ business item No. 111 outside the order of precedence for today of which I have given notice by omitting paragraph 2 (c) and inserting instead: “2. (c) three crossbench members, being Mr Banasiak, Ms Boyd and Mr Pearson.”

    Leave granted.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Accordingly, I move:

    1.That a select committee be established to inquire into and report on the effectiveness of arrangements for the administration and enforcement of the laws of New South Wales for the protection of animals from cruelty, and in particular:

    (a)the effectiveness of the charitable organisations currently approved under section 34B of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [“the Act”] in achieving the objects of the Act, namely:

    (i)to prevent cruelty to animals;

    (ii)to promote the welfare of animals by requiring a person in charge of an animal:

    (a)to provide care for the animal;

    (b)to treat the animal in a humane manner; and

    (c)to ensure the welfare of the animal.

    (b)the ability of the charitable organisations currently approved under section 34B of the Act (“the approved charitable organisations”) to achieve the objects of the Act, including:

    (i)the level of funding provided by government;

    (ii)perpetrator and community education about ensuring animal welfare;

    (iii)any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest between the investigation and enforcement of the Act, and one or more of the following:

    (a)commercial activities of the approved charitable organisations including corporate sponsorship;

    (b)industrial proxy membership payments or donations; and

    (c)private interests of board members, consultants, and senior staff.

    (c)the adequacy of the standard of care and kill rates for stray, surrendered or seized animals under the control or supervision of the approved charitable organisations;

    (d)whether it is effective and appropriate for non-government charitable organisations to be granted investigative and enforcement powers for criminal prosecutions under the Act, with regard to their:

    (i)capacity to exercise those investigative and enforcement powers;

    (ii)ability to exercise those investigative and enforcement powers in relation to commercial premises and intensive farm operations involving high numbers of animals;

    (iii)ability to conduct cases to test the application of legislative provisions in the Act;

    (iv)accountability to government and the community;

    (v)exemption from the provisions of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009; and

    (vi)exemption from administrative review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997.

    (e)whether any limitations and deficiencies of the administration and enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 are common to other national or international jurisdictions which use similar models;

    (f)whether the Government should establish a specialist unit to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce animal protection laws, either as part of the NSW Police Force or as a separate statutory enforcement agency; and

    (g)any other related matter.

    2.That, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the standing orders, the committee consist of seven members comprising:

    (a)three Government members;

    (b)two Opposition members, and

    (c) three crossbench members, being Mr Banasiak, Ms Boyd and Mr Pearson.

    3.That the chair of the committee be Mr Pearson.

    4.That, unless the committee decides otherwise:

    (a)submissions to inquiries are to be published, subject to the committee clerk checking for confidentiality and adverse mention and, where those issues arise, bringing them to the attention of the committee for consideration;

    (b)the chair’s proposed witness list is to be circulated to provide members with an opportunity to amend the list, with the witness list agreed to by email, unless a member requests the chair to convene a meeting to resolve any disagreement;

    (c)the sequence of questions to be asked at hearings alternate between Opposition, crossbench and Government members, in that order, with equal time allocated to each;

    (d)transcripts of evidence taken at public hearings are to be published;

    (e)the chair may make arrangements for the committee to visit and inspect sites relevant to the work of the committee, provided that the owner and/or occupier of the site, as the case requires, has given any necessary permission;

    (f)supplementary questions are to be lodged with the committee clerk within two days, excluding Saturday and Sunday, following the receipt of the hearing transcript, with witnesses requested to return answers to questions on notice and supplementary questions within 21 calendar days of the date on which questions are forwarded to the witness; and

    (g)answers to questions on notice and supplementary questions are to be published, subject to the committee clerk checking for confidentiality and adverse mention and, where those issues arise, bringing them to the attention of the committee for consideration.

    5.That the committee begin its inquiry in the third week of October 2019 and report by 2 April 2020.

    I want members to be aware that I considered seriously concerns that committee staff are overwhelmed by the existing committee workload. Therefore, this inquiry will not begin until the third week of October 2019 and will not report back until 2 April 2020.

    The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance and Small Business) (15:49): On a number of occasions the Government has clearly expressed its position regarding the establishment of select committees. The committee system is a credit to this Chamber. Having come to this place, I appreciate that it is one of the vibrant aspects of the work of this House. A strong system is already in place that is reinforced in many respects by the changes to debates about committees and the way the House operates. Establishing another select committee to conduct an inquiry that could easily be run by an existing portfolio committees strikes me as wasteful. It puts an undue burden on the staff who support the committee system. While I understand the honourable member’s intent, it appears to me that Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Industry or Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment would be perfectly capable of conducting an inquiry of this nature. With those few words, I oppose the establishment of the select committee.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH (15:51): I lead for the Opposition in debate on the motion to establish a select committee to look into aspects of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is important to recall that, for a range of reasons, the Labor Party went to the State election with a policy of reviewing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. I understand that within government a body of work is being undertaken on animal welfare and the like, and I expect that to continue. The former Minister is in the Chamber; he may well have some views about that but he may not be able to tell us. The reality is that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has not been properly reviewed for quite some time. I note the Minister’s comment about the committee structure that we have in this Chamber, which is—as I have said many times—an outstanding feature of this place and which assists us to do our work examining matters in detail. Whether we need another select committee is a matter for the House.

    There is an issue not just with committee staff and Hansard staff who support us in our work, but also with managing our own workloads and making sure that we are not being stretched by having too many committees. I recall the latter days of the last term of this Parliament when there were quite a few committee hearings. Members were passing each other in hallways while racing backwards and forwards to hearings. Trying to keep on top of the submissions and other committee work proved quite daunting for many of us. The Opposition supports the motion. We think it is timely to have a review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. My only concern is that this review does not go to the extent I would like and does not quite match the policy that the Labor Party announced during the election campaign when we sought a full review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. However, we will support the motion.

    The Hon. WALT SECORD (15:53): I support the motion as amended moved by Animal Justice Party member the Hon. Mark Pearson. I am part of a group of parliamentarians who are committed to the more humane treatment of animals. I believe this planet was not created just for our benefit; we are here to share this world. I believe all creatures have rights and I do not debate the matter of animal sentience. Every day we witness the capacity of animals to experience feelings such as suffering or pleasure; negative feelings or emotions, including pain, fear, boredom and frustration; and positive feelings, such as joy. Animals enrich our lives, and our engagement with them helps us to become better human beings. They also increase our general wellbeing and longevity. Sadly, animals are the only companions that some people have. Animals teach children empathy and how to care for others. For the record, I have had many spirited debates with my colleagues about puppy farms and the rights of poultry and pigs to be treated humanely. I have also attended Voiceless events in Sydney. On that note, I deeply wish that I could be vegetarian but it is not possible for me yet. But I digress.

    I note that paragraph 1 (b) of the motion canvasses charitable organisations. On that subject, members will be aware that I have a longstanding association with the Cat Protection Society of NSW, which is a charitable organisation based in Newtown. In October 2018 I was delighted to host the society’s sixtieth anniversary celebration here at Parliament House. Members will be aware that I migrated to Australia almost 31 years ago, and I have now lived here longer than I lived in Canada. My entire life on both continents has been connected to animals and enriched by them. As a child in rural Canada, I had many pets: cats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, fish and mice. In Australia I have had several dogs and cats, including a mixed‑breed dog, Sam; a tabby named Gary; and, most recently, an ex-street cat, Brutus. Sadly, they have all passed away. In fact, Brutus passed away several weeks ago and was buried in my North Bondi backyard. He was around 12.

    I delayed getting a cat after Gary died because our bond was so deep that I did not think I could ever replicate it. Luckily, I was wrong: I found Brutus. I had observed and admired the work of the Cat Protection Society of NSW for almost 25 years, so in January 2014 when I was looking for a pet I approached the society. After a rigorous screening process, I adopted Brutus. We bonded and had a deep relationship; we were well suited each other. My point is that it was a successful adoption, and I thank the Cat Protection Society staff for matching us. It was done with the care, concern and compassion that the Cat Protection Society is rightly known for. My experience with the Cat Protection Society is a testament to the value of charitable organisations in the field of animal protection. I commend the motion.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (15:56): My life is now complete knowing that the Hon. Walt Secord had a cat called Gary—hopefully after Nathan “Garry” Lyon, the great bowler. The committee proposed by this motion would duplicate, to a certain degree, what the Government is doing. The Government has agreed that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act needs to be updated; that is why it initiated the Animal Welfare Action Plan. The action plan contains six points: first, modernise the policy and legislative framework, which includes reforming all three animal welfare Acts in New South Wales and corresponding regulations, codes and standards; secondly, implement companion animal breeding practice reforms and communicate changes about new rules that apply to advertisements for the sale of dogs and cats; thirdly, improve the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement efforts, which includes reviewing animal welfare related penalties and enforcement tools; fourthly, ensure that sound research and scientific practices are used to develop policy and legislation by investing in research activities to help better understand animals and their welfare; fifthly, engage with key stakeholders and ensure that all views are respected and considered in developing policy and legislation; and, sixthly, invest in our systems and processes.

    We know that the legislation is quite outdated. We know that there is a lot that probably could be reviewed and consolidated, and that we need to look at the agencies that are responsible under the Act for the enforcement of animal welfare legislation. The Government has also said that we need to review the penalties associated with animal cruelty and, where necessary, improve them. When I said that the Government is already doing what this committee intends to do, the Hon. Mark Pearson disagreed. He is right: The Government is not doing what he wants this committee to do. We all know that the Hon. Mark Pearson wants this committee to beat up the RSPCA because he has a longstanding disagreement with that organisation about a number of animal welfare enforcement matters in this State. That is why the motion consistently mentions the charitable agencies—it is targeted directly at the RSPCA.

    We know that because when I was the responsible Minister the Hon. Mark Pearson said constantly that he wanted New South Wales police to play a greater role. I know the committee will consider the Government being an investigative agency under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. At the moment, the Government sets policy and has at arm’s length the organisations authorised under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty. This motion is nothing more than the Hon. Mark Pearson’s attempt to get back at the RSPCA. It will take up the time of the people who are seeking to overhaul the whole system. The Government agrees that something needs to be done, but it opposes the motion because staff should be getting on with the changes that are needed in New South Wales.

    Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (15:59): The Greens support this motion. I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for moving it. It is clear that the administration and enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is not meeting community expectations. I agree that members of this Chamber have a lot of committee work but I understand that efforts have been made to delay the start of this particular inquiry. I look forward to sitting in the committee inquiry and listening to experts and stakeholders tell us of their experiences about the administration and enforcement of the Act. I appreciate that a review by the Government is about to get underway. I view this inquiry as being quite useful for that process and I hope that the Government—including the Government members on the committee—use the information we gather for the purposes of that review. I welcome us getting ahead of the game when it comes to what will hopefully be some legislative reform.

    The Hon. BEN FRANKLIN (16:00): The New South Wales Government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously. The Government has made it very clear that any act of animal cruelty is directly opposed to the values that it and the New South Wales community holds. The welfare of animals is in everybody’s interest, and the Government is ensuring the right framework is in place to support best practice. This includes standing beside our animal welfare enforcement agencies to make sure they are empowered to take action when needed.

    The Government has committed to reforming the animal welfare legislation in this State—a process referred to by the former Minister the Hon. Niall Blair—which we are trying to get on with, instead of undertaking yet another inquiry into the very same thing. As the Hon. Mark Pearson is aware, a key component of our legislative reform will be looking at compliance and enforcement. The motion before the House to establish this committee will duplicate the work that this Government is already on track to do. Once again, it will pull resources away from the Government getting on with the job. I have spoken before about this kind of thing happening again and again. Matters of this kind should be examined by portfolio committees; that is what they are for. A select committee will take resources away from the Government, which is already acting on this issue.

    There is no denying that people who do the wrong thing should be punished and face fines under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. That is why we encourage members of the public to report suspected animal cruelty to one of the enforcement agencies. That is because we value the good work that our animal welfare enforcement agencies do. Inspectors from RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW have the power to lawfully investigate acts of animal cruelty and to rightly take action against people who mistreat animals.

    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides inspectors with a range of powers to address animal cruelty. This includes seizing an animal if the inspector suspects, on reasonable grounds, that the animal is in distress or if an offence against the Act or regulation is being or is about to be committed. RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW have been mainstays in the community and play a key role in promoting optimal animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. This Government will continue working with RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW in their important work in enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    A memorandum of understanding has been developed between the New South Wales Government, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League of NSW. It came into effect in January 2016 and addresses how the enforcement agencies maintain appropriate separation of their general advocacy functions and their enforcement functions. As charitable organisations, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League are also required to report through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission reporting framework. This Government supports and will continue to support the role of our animal welfare enforcement agencies. The Government opposes the motion.

    The Hon. EMMA HURST (16:03): I support my colleague the Hon. Mark Pearson moving to establish this long-overdue select committee on the administration and enforcement of New South Wales laws regarding animal cruelty. With horrific stories of animal cruelty and neglect making daily headlines, and the RSPCA reporting an average of 15,000 animal cruelty complaints every year, it is clear our laws are failing animals across New South Wales. Our laws are weak and they are not being forced and cannot be enforced. There is no doubt that this inquiry will make the case for change. In practice, the NSW Police Force, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League can enforce the main cruelty legislation in New South Wales—the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. But, in reality, the majority of this enforcement, investigation and prosecution is done by the RSPCA NSW, which is a charitable organisation relying almost entirely on the public for the majority of its income.

    The Hon. Niall Blair: How much from Government?

    The Hon. EMMA HURST: Let me repeat. The criminal legislation that protects animals in New South Wales is enforced by a private, publicly funded charity with extremely little funding from the Government. I am not a regular donor to the RSPCA and I wonder how many members in this House are. But if your neighbour is beating a dog, do you expect the RSPCA to investigate, to house that dog, to give that dog veterinary treatment and to prosecute the person for beating that dog? If so, with what money and with what support? Is this seriously the right framework for protecting animals in New South Wales?

    We have the power in Parliament to make changes and to take action on behalf of all animal lovers across New South Wales to protect animals. I urge members to take the first step forward and support this urgent inquiry. Only then can we find out how badly our system is broken. I wonder if that is what the Government is really afraid of. The system is broken. It is failing animals and we need to find out what we need to do to fix it.

    Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE (16:05): I support the motion to establish this long-overdue review—as it has been called by other members in this debate—of the laws in this State that are meant to prevent cruelty to animals. I commend and endorse the words of my colleague Ms Abigail Boyd, who leads for The Greens on questions relating to the protection of animals. I also endorse and support the words of the Hon. Mark Pearson and the Hon. Emma Hurst in their explanations of why this inquiry is essential.

    There have been cries from Government members that there is some funding provided to the RSPCA by the Government. It is a fraction of the RSPCA’s costs. The RSPCA’s website reveals that only a tiny percentage of its funding—some 2 per cent—comes from Government. This select committee will inquire into “whether it is effective and appropriate for non-government charitable organisations to be granted investigative and enforcement powers for criminal prosecutions under the Act”. Surely that is a fair thing for the committee to look at. What other part of our criminal law that deals with cruelty and violence do we contract enforcement out to a charity?

    The reason the Government is satisfied with the existing laws and does not want this inquiry is because it is quite happy for animals to be protected by a charity, not a properly funded, separate Government investigative unit or a properly funded specialist part of the NSW Police Force. The Government is clearly out of touch with the balance of the community. Members of the community cannot believe it when I tell them that our prevention of cruelty to animals law is principally enforced by a charity and not by police. The community values animals and responds far more strongly and far more emotionally—as they should—when they see cruelty being inflicted on animals and when they see the indifference of this Government when it comes to protecting the interests of animals. This committee will also inquire into:

    (f)whether the Government should establish a specialist unit to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce animal protection laws, either as part of the NSW Police Force or as a separate statutory enforcement agency,

    Of course the committee should be inquiring about that. Members of this place should inform the community about how weak our animal protection laws are. The community knows that animals are not being protected. People want an organisation that is well-resourced and independent on the beat. The more people know that animal welfare laws are enforced by an underfunded charity, the more they will be appalled at the lack of movement by this Government and the more they will endorse this important inquiry. [Time expired.]

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:09): In reply: The Hon. Niall Blair said “arms-length”. The Government is keeping the protection of animals through criminal legislation at arms-length. Would we want children to be protected by a body that is at arms-length from the Government? Should the agencies responsible for mentally ill or vulnerable people or women subjected to domestic violence be at arms-length from the Government? The answer is no. We should be watching this matter very closely and have a department that is able to administer, investigate and prosecute under our criminal legislation where necessary. No other criminal legislation in New South Wales is administered, investigated and prosecuted at arms-length except for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979). This is not about wanting to bash up the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League or any other organisation. This is an inquiry as to the efficacy of the administration of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act—nothing more. I welcome every member’s contribution, including the cats Gary and Brutus. I commend the motion to the House.

    The ASSISTANT PRESIDENT (The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane): The question is that the motion as amended be agreed to.

    The House divided.

    Ayes23

    Noes18

    Majority5

    AYES

    Banasiak, Mr M

    Borsak, Mr R

    Boyd, Ms A

    Buttigieg, Mr M (teller)

    D’Adam, Mr A (teller)

    Donnelly, Mr G

    Faehrmann, Ms C

    Field, Mr J

    Graham, Mr J

    Houssos, Mrs C

    Hurst, Ms E

    Jackson, Ms R

    Mookhey, Mr D

    Moriarty, Ms T

    Moselmane, Mr S

    Nile, Revd Mr

    Pearson, Mr M

    Primrose, Mr P

    Searle, Mr A

    Secord, Mr W

    Sharpe, Ms P

    Shoebridge, Mr D

    Veitch, Mr M

     

    NOES

    Amato, Mr L

    Blair, Mr

    Cusack, Ms C

    Fang, Mr W (teller)

    Farlow, Mr S

    Franklin, Mr B

    Harwin, Mr D

    Khan, Mr T

    Latham, Mr M

    Maclaren-Jones, Mrs (teller)

    Mallard, Mr S

    Martin, Mr T

    Mason-Cox, Mr M

    Mitchell, Mrs

    Roberts, Mr R

    Taylor, Mrs

    Tudehope, Mr D

    Ward, Mrs N

    Motion agreed to.

     

  • The price of eggs

    Day old chicks buried alive

    30th May 2019

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (12:17): My question is directed to the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, representing the Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales. On 2 April 2018 day-old chicks were buried alive after a truck transporting more than 100,000 vulnerable animals crashed near Yass. On 7 April 2018 the members of the public who found the buried-alive chicks made a detailed cruelty complaint to the RSPCA. On 12 April the then Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair, told the Chamber that his department had also reported the matter to the RSPCA and it was carrying out investigations. The statutory time period for investigating this incident has now expired. What was the outcome of the investigation into the department’s complaint about the burying alive of those newborn animals?

    The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (12:18): I thank the honourable member for his question. As it refers to a Minister in the other place, I will take it on notice and get back to him as soon as possible.


    Government response 20th June 2019:

    The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women)—The Minister provided the following response:

    RSPCA NSW investigated the incident and there were no offences identified under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [POCTA].


    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-06/investigation-launched-after-baby-chicks-buried-canberra-yass/9627212

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/council-crews-accused-of-burying-chicks-alive-after-truck-crash-20180406-p4z81y.html

    https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5327881/baby-chicks-buried-alive-in-yass-truck-crash-clean-up-claims/

  • sheep in paddock

    Justice for Animals in NSW at last

    8th August 2019

    Today I secured an inquiry into animal welfare investigation and enforcement powers.   Details of the inquiry are here.

  • Injured kangaroo

    KANGAROO GENOCIDE IN NSW

    ONGOING KANGAROO KILLING

    6th June 2019

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:18):In August last year the New South Wales Government changed the rules to make it easier to shoot kangaroos for non-commercial purposes. As a result of the changes, those carrying out the shooting no longer need a licence to kill. The few checks and balances that were in place to ensure a minimum level of accountability by shooters and the welfare of the animals have now gone. The changes brought in by the Government have created a culture of anything goes when it comes to killing these gentle, native wild animals. My office has been inundated with accounts from distraught members of the public who have witnessed the horrific treatment of these animals and their young since the changes came into effect. We have heard how killing sprees happen everywhere and all the time. The latest report came in this week. A New South Wales citizen told of the people living opposite who are:

    … intent on wiping out every kangaroo on the place. Shooting almost every night … Yesterday I witnessed them run down a kangaroo with their tractor, pin the animal against the fence and kill the animal before picking up the carcass in the front bucket of the tractor and dumping it in a ditch. It’s tragic—there was a lovely big mob of kangaroos down there. I have been onto the police and basically received a “Oh, well, it’s his property and he can kill kangaroos if he likes”‘ response.

    Another report told of a kangaroo found with:

    … multiple festering and stinking injuries resembling gunshot wounds to both shoulders, left bicep and forearm, left side ribs, chest and left rump. Wounds were maggoty; he was also being eaten alive by European wasps (on the wounds). Prognosis by the vet—”poor”.

    We have received gruesome images also from wildlife carers who are called out to rescue injured young joeys with bullet entry points in the neck and chest or in the abdomen via thighs; kangaroos shot in the base of the tail and then run over; kangaroos with jaws shot out; kangaroos shot with arrows; and joeys left to die in the pouch of their shot mother. These are the images we can find words to describe. Other scenes are so horrific they are beyond description, except to say that they would have caused immense suffering from slow and painful deaths. It is difficult to avoid the view that the Government’s changes to the rules for the non-commercial killing of kangaroos have encouraged a complete disregard for the welfare of one of our most cherished native animals and is vindicating what is becoming a virtual genocide of this species. I call upon the Government to review the current administrative regime allowing the indiscriminate wounding and killing of kangaroos on private property. The suffering caused to individual animals is unacceptable.

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