12th August 2015

    Adjournment speech.


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

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

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

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

    But twice, on the Western Line,

    That little old bunch of faithful fur

    Had offered his life for mine.

    And all that he got was bones and bread,

    Or the leavings of soldier grub,

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

    Or a friendly tickle and rub.

    And Rags got home with the regiment,

    And then, in the breaking away—

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

    I am not prepared to say.

    But we mustered out, some to beer and gruel

    And some to sherry and shad,

    And I went back to the Sawbones School,

    Where I still was an undergrad.

    One day they took us budding MDs

    To one of those institutes

    Where they demonstrate every new disease

    By means of bisected brutes.

    They had one animal tacked and tied

    And slit like a full-dressed fish,

    With his vitals pumping away inside

    As pleasant as one might wish.

    I stopped to look like the rest, of course,

    And the beast’s eyes levelled mine;

    His short tail thumped with a feeble force,

    And he uttered a tender whine.

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

    Who was quartered and crucified,

    And he whined that whine which is doggish prayer

    And he licked my hand and died.

    And I was no better in part nor whole

    Than the gang I was found among,

    And his innocent blood was on the soul

    Which he blessed with his dying tongue.

    Well I’ve seen men go to courageous death

    In the air, on sea, on land!

    But only a dog would spend his breath

    In a kiss for his murderer’s hand.

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