• Greyhound

    REQUEST FOR GREYHOUND RACING INDUSTRY STATISTICS ON REHOMED NUMBERS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:12): My question is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, representing the Hon. Paul Toole, Minister for Racing. The New South Wales Government subsidises the greyhound racing industry to the tune of millions of dollars per year and the industry makes all sorts of promises to improve greyhound welfare. Despite this, I have been unable to locate any statistics that provide figures on the numbers of retired greyhounds re-homed in the previous 12 months or ascertain what plans the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission has to improve the number of greyhound adoptions going forward. With the Minister provide this information?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (15:13): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for the question he has asked of me representing the Minister for Racing, the Hon. Paul Toole. It is an important question, particularly when we talk about the rehoming of greyhounds. I have certainly seen plenty of anecdotal evidence on that and I know many people who have rehomed greyhounds as pets. I believe that even some family members of the Acting President, the Hon. Trevor Khan, may have rehomed greyhounds as pets. I know that anyone who has taken in as a pet a greyhound that has been rehomed after finishing its life in the racing industry has been happy with the decision. They are placid dogs that fit easily into many homes. We want to see more and more of that.

    As Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister responsible for the prevention of cruelty to animals legislation in this State, I want to make sure that we have as many greyhounds as possible enjoying a life of comfort and love in people’s homes. Their welfare is something that we are definitely concerned about and I believe it was adequately addressed in the Government’s response to the issues highlighted when the greyhound issue surfaced. The member has asked for data. Obviously I do not have that information here today but I am happy to take the question on notice, refer it to the Minister and come back to the member with a detailed answer in due course.

     

    To date we have received no reply from the Minister’s Department.

     

  • EXOTIC ANIMALS AND CIRCUSES

    Second read speech – Exhibited Animals Protection Amendment (Prohibitions On Exhibition) Bill 2018.

    The “Circus Bill” would ban the use of exotic animals in circuses and retire them to sanctuaries where they can live out their days in peace.  Mark Pearson’s speech references the appalling history of animals being used in circuses.  “Tradition” is no defence for continuing the practice of forcing animals to perform for human entertainment.

    EXHIBITED ANIMALS PROTECTION AMENDMENT (PROHIBITIONS ON EXHIBITION) BILL 2018

    First Reading

    Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Mark Pearson.

    Second Reading Speech

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (11:04): I move:

    That this bill be now read a second time.

    The Exhibited Animals Protection Amendment (Prohibitions on Exhibition) Bill 2018 prohibits circuses from exhibiting exotic animals. Exotic animals are defined as any animal other than a stock animal within the meaning of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, or a companion animal within the meaning of the Companion Animals Act”. This bill makes it an offence for a person to exhibit an exotic animal at a circus, and to breed, keep, train or transport an exotic animal for the purpose of exhibiting the animal at a circus, whether or not the circus is located in New South Wales. Exotic animals currently exhibited at circuses must be rehomed in an animal display establishment or wildlife sanctuary approved by the secretary within 12 months. If such a placement is not reasonably practicable, the owner must keep the exotic animal in accordance with standards currently prescribed under the principal Act.

    Established science tells us that the welfare and wellbeing of exotic animals is severely compromised by being held captive in travelling circuses. The circus business model is predicated on forcing animals to live in barren, cramped conditions, including stressful travel in trucks known as beast wagons for thousands of kilometres each year. The animals have little in the way of enrichment or stimulation while confined, nor can they engage in many of their natural behaviours. Animal Circuses have their origins in the Roman Empire. Their purpose was not just to entertain the masses but also to reinforce the myth of human superiority over mere beasts. Many thousands of exotic animals were tortured, butchered and killed during performances at the Colosseum in Rome.

    Australia’s first travelling animal circuses were established in the 1850s, but there is no fine tradition to celebrate. Caged lions and tigers, brutalised for the public’s amusement, were exhibited alongside freak shows with exhibits such as the bearded lady, conjoined twins, or the world’s smallest woman. Horrifyingly, a group of Aboriginal people from the Wulguru clan on Palm Island were taken abroad by Barnum and Bailey’s Circus to be displayed alongside other Indigenous people from around the globe. The Wulguru people were promoted as “Australian cannibals” and forced to dance, sing and throw boomerangs to the audience while performing alongside an elephant. Within a year many in the group had succumbed to illness and some died, with the body of an Aboriginal man called Tambo being embalmed and put on permanent display. His remains were finally returned to his country after many approaches by his people.

    There is not a shred of credibility to the often stated argument that circuses stimulate people’s interest in conserving exotic animals or respect foranimals’ capability and skill. How can watching a lion balance on a small table possibly have any relevance to understanding the place of the lion on the African savannah? In 2018 there are so many more authoritative ways that people can learn about animals. Animal circuses have never been about education as they now proclaim; rather, they are about human voyeurism, watching animals humiliated and degraded by the manner in which they are forced to perform and be displayed. They become parodies of themselves. Noone with a modicum of empathy could possibly enjoy watching a subjugated animal being forced to perform tricks against their own natural instincts.

    Circuses may have moved on from forcing lions and tigers to jump through burning hoops or—the ultimate in voyeurism—the staged death by electrocution of Topsy the elephant at a Coney Island amusement park in 1903, but the reality is still animal suffering and misery. As a society we have become more concerned about animal welfare. In recognition of this change, Australian circus culture underwent a revolution in the late 1970s with the emergence of animal-free alternatives such as Circus Oz, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil. Fast‑forward to the twenty‑first century and in New South Wales only Lennon Bros Circus, Stardust Circus and Circus Royale continue to use exotic animals such as lions, monkeys and camels. They are left to tour on the fringes of the entertainment circuit and on the outskirts of country towns. Often they are met with animal rights protesters objecting to the circus’s presence in their town.

    Acknowledging the growing public disquiet, more than 40 councils in Australia banned exotic animal circuses from performing on council‑owned and controlled land. In New South Wales, such councils included Parramatta, Lismore, Wingecarribee, Newcastle, Blue Mountains, Warringah, Woollahra, Hornsby, Pittwater, Manly, Randwick, Ku-ring-gai, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool and Camden councils. A number of other New South Wales councils are currently being petitioned to ban animal circuses on council land. In 1992, the Australian Capital Territory Government passed legislation prohibiting bears, elephants, giraffes, primates or felines—other than domestic cats—from being exhibited in circuses.

    Animals have not been the only victims of circuses. Between 1863 and 2001, there were 131 incidents in Australia in which members of the public or circus workers were harmed. The individuals most likely to suffer injuries or death were animal handlers during performances and training and circus hands feeding animals or cleaning cages. Many of the accidents involving patrons happened because people stood too close to the cages in which animals were housed. Members of the public were mauled by lions, trampled by elephants and lacerated by monkeys. The animals most prone to instigating attacks were lions, followed by tigers and elephants. Elephants killed more often than any other circus animal.

    Some circuses were so notorious for the injuries caused that it became a matter of some concern to public safety, but it was not until 1943 that the New South Wales Government finally intervened by cancelling the licence of a particularly negligent circus. Injuries to the public and circus workers continued right up until circuses began closing down due to lack of financial viability. By the early 2000s, only Stardust, Ashton and Lennon Bros circuses exhibited dangerous exotic animals such as lions, tigers and elephants. In 2001 a lion tamer was attacked by three lions at a Lennon Bros Circus performance in Penrith. In 2004 a toddler at Ashton Circus tragically lost his arms after he stuck them through the bars of a cage containing two tigons.

    The most recent case stems from a time when I was with Animal Liberation NSW. Until 1996, Stardust Circus had two performing elephants called Arna and Bambi. They had spent their entire lives in captivity, much of it together. Arna witnessed Bambi’s death from anaesthesia complications after treatment for an injured foot. Bambi fell and suffocated to death as a consequence of the treating veterinarian and staff failing to place her in a supportive sling for the surgery.

    Elephants are highly social animals and in recognition of that, the circus animal welfare standards require that elephants should not be solitary unless there are compelling reasons. In 2000 Animal Liberation NSW campaigned to have Arna transferred to the Western Plains Zoo given that she had been a solitary elephant for six years and this was causing her significant distress. Imagine a life alone and bound by foot shackles except when performing. Animal Liberation wrote to the then Director General of the Department of Agriculture, stating that if the annual permit was to be issued for Stardust Circus to keep Arna—therefore meaning she would be kept as a solitary elephant—then it would challenge that decision in the New South Wales Supreme Court. This was confirmed and Animal Liberation took Stardust Circus to the Supreme Court, arguing that Arna suffered psychologically as a consequence of her imposed solitude. I sought to have Arna—then in her mid-40s—paired with Gigi, a retired elephant from Ashton Circus. Animal Liberation lost the case but in 2001 Stardust Circus arranged for Gigi to join it.

    But the psychological damage had been done. In 2008, for reasons apparently unknown, Arna struck out against her handler. His injuries included a broken back and a ruptured aorta and were found to be the result of a “severe blunt trauma”, with the cause of death being a direct result of Arna crushing his upper back with her foot as he lay on the ground. However, I was informed by a trapeze artist at the circus that Arna’s and Gigi’s handler had beaten Gigi with a piece of 4 by 2 timber before approaching Arna.

    As I stated at the time, it has been proven that elephants who kill once will frequently kill again. Ashton Circus elephant Abu killed three workers: in 1974, 1983 and again in 1987. His partner at the time had been Gigi, who was later bought by Stardust Circus as the new companion for Arna. In response to public concern and a directive from the Department of Primary Industries, Stardust retired 53‑year‑old Arna and her companion elephant Gigi, 50, to the Western Plains Zoo, where they lived out their years free of shackles, long hours in the back of beast wagons, and the glare and noise of the circus ring. This tragic episode ended the sorry history of performing elephants in circuses.

    This brings me to the ongoing suffering of the remaining exotic animals in travelling circuses in New South Wales. Lions, camels and rhesus macaque monkeys are still exhibited and forced to perform for human entertainment. Animal circus owners tell us that because their lions have been bred for multiple generations in captivity and their macaques have been bred or sourced from zoos, and because the animals are shown affection as if they were companion animals and are extensively trained, they do not suffer from stress or boredom.

    In 2009, a University of Bristol study found that circus animals spend most of their days confined, with between 1 per cent and 9 per cent of each day taken up with performing or training and the remaining time spent in so‑called exercise pens. In other words, for at least 90 per cent of each day, the animals are in small, barren, temporary pens that are set up on the featureless, dusty or muddy back paddocks of New South Wales. Monkeys fare even worse, stuck in sterile cages that would be an animal welfare scandal if used in zoos.

    Exercise pens are significantly smaller than minimum zoo requirements for outdoor enclosures. Given that there is no difference between the needs of a lion in a zoo and the needs of a circus lion, what is the explanation or justification for that? The reality is that a profitable travelling circus could not have pens the size of zoo enclosures. The circus animal standards therefore allow for this anomaly based on a commercial imperative. The science, however, is very clear that wild animals such as lions cannot flourish in domesticated settings regardless of how long they have been bred in captivity. According to Price in 1999, the conditions of captivity:

    … constrain an animal’s behaviours and restricts appropriate, or allows inappropriate, social interactions, both intra- and inter‑specifically …

    According to Mason et al in 2001:

    Wild animals that have been bred for tens of generations in captivity still show extremely high motivation to perform certain activities seen in their wild counterparts … Be under no illusion that exotic circus animals are anything other than wild animals forced to adapt to and submit themselves to humans. They may have been hand reared, which makes them less fearful towards humans, and they may be described by their handlers as “tamed”, but they can never be considered domesticated. Indeed, in order to tame them, infant animals in circuses are regularly separated from their mother and hand reared. Studies by Dettling in 2002, McEwen in 2007 and Reimers et al in 2007 have shown that this increases stress‑related behaviour and can cause an elevated and prolonged stress response. These increased stress sensitivity effects can last into adulthood.

    Circus owners may speak of generationally breeding lions into docility but no studies have been undertaken to establish that selective reproduction has taken place. Genetically speaking, exotic animals in circuses are identical to their wild counterparts. They express similarly high motivation to perform their species‑specific behaviours and their instincts are unaffected. As a result, allegedly tamed exotic animals in captivity are often unpredictable and under stressful circumstances are likely to become aggressive. The University of Bristol study that I referenced earlier examined behaviour, health, living and travelling conditions and compared the conditions of non-domesticated animals in circuses with their counterparts kept in zoos. The study found:

    Circus animals spent a great amount of time performing stereotypies, such as head-waving, pacing and repetitive abnormal behaviours, especially when shackled or confined in beast wagons.

    Stereotypies are caused by a captive animal’s repeated attempts to adapt to its environment or by a dysfunction of the central nervous system. Locomotory stereotypies include pacing and similar behaviours. Oral stereotypies include repetitive movements with the tongue or repeatedly biting an object. An animal may also perform repetitive movements of the whole body without moving from one place to another, such as swaying. The category would include, for example, a stereotypy sometimes shown by primates that consists of the animal moving its body backwards and forwards while seated. Other stereotypies include excessive grooming, leading sometimes to hair loss and dermatitis.

    The motivation for locomotory stereotypies of carnivores is not known with certainty and is likely to result from the combination of several factors. Some studies suggest that lack of space is important, while others point to the inability to perform the normal behaviour of the species as the main cause. In carnivores, pacing is more common in those species that usually travel long distances in the wild. Regardless of how many generations have been born into captivity, all confined exotic animals are at risk of developing stereotypies due to confinement, boredom and the stress caused by the inability to perform normal behaviours. Stereotypic behaviour is particularly associated with performances in circus elephants and, in short, they are driven mad.

    The presence of stereotypies is indicative of poor welfare in circus animals. Inadequate diet and housing conditions, and the effects of repeated performances, can also lead to significant health problems. Circus animals travel frequently and the associated forced movement, human handling, noise, wagon movement and confinement are important stressors. Available evidence suggests that performing near spectators may cause severe stress to wild animals. This can be exacerbated by restricted movement options, harsh lighting, exposure to loud or aversive sounds, strange odours and extreme temperatures. For example, stereotypies increase when the music starts just before a performance. I have witnessed that myself.

    The type of training that is used affects the welfare of the animals. While we cannot be sure about the exact nature of training methods, any training procedures that include physical punishment will be stressful for and impose fear on the animals undergoing them. In the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, has previously exposed the use of bullhooks on elephants in order to obtain their compliance. Although there is no conclusive evidence as to whether animals habituate to travel, confinement in beast wagons for long periods is a definite welfare concern.

    Circuses have a limited ability to make improvements such as providing increased space, environmental enrichment and appropriate social housing that zoos may be able to provide. Given the financial and physical limitations of circuses, social animals are often housed singly, or in groups smaller than the average in the wild, or in unnatural groupings. That prevents establishment of normal social dynamics and has significant consequences for behaviour and welfare. Consequently, the University of Bristol study found that the only non‑domesticated animals suitable for circus life would have low space requirements, simple social structures, low cognitive function, non-specialist ecological requirements and an ability to be transported without adverse welfare effects. None of the commonest species exhibited by circuses, such as elephants and large felids, meet those criteria. They concluded that the species of non-domesticated animals commonly kept in circuses appear the least suited to a circus life.

    Animal circuses are closing all around the world. The most famous in the United States, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, made the decision to close earlier this year after almost 150  years in the business. They attributed the closure to changing community tastes in entertainment, and the community’s growing concerns regarding animal welfare. Forty-five countries have already banned or are transitioning to ban animal circuses, citing animal welfare concerns as the main reason. May New South Wales join Sweden, Costa Rica, India, Finland, Singapore, Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Belgium and other countries in moving to ban animals in circuses.

    The time is up for exotic animal circuses in this State. The circus families themselves know that they are the last generation to crack the whip against the majestic lion and the magnificent tiger. The shackles of countless generations of tortured elephants will never again be used to subjugate these magnificent gentle and intelligent giants. I respectively ask my fellow members to support this bill and give these animals the compassionate response they deserve. May their final years be spent in a sanctuary rather than in the confines of a beast wagon. I commend the bill to the House.

    Debate adjourned.

  • Naree Pon

    COMPANION ANIMALS DESERVE CONSIDERATION IN RESIDENTIAL RENTAL AGREEMENTS

    RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT (REVIEW) BILL 2018

    Mark Pearson moved an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018. The amendment would ensure that companion animals would be given consideration in residential tenancies for renters.  The amendment was supported by the Greens but not by the Government or Opposition.

    The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): There being no objection, the bill will be taken as a whole. I have three sets of amendments: the Animal Justice Party amendment on sheet C2018-119A, the Opposition set of amendments on sheet C2018-123 and The Greens amendments on sheet C2018-122.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (11:50): I move the Animal Justice Party amendment No. 1 on sheet 2018-119A:

    No. 1Companion animals

    Page 3, Schedule 1. Insert after line 24:

    [2]Section 19 Prohibited terms

    Insert after section 19 (2) (e):

    (f)that a companion animal of a person who is lawfully residing on the residential premises is not permitted to be kept on the premises. This amendment is a double negative and relates to companion animals:

    No. 1Companion animals

    Page 3, Schedule 1. Insert after line 24:

    [2]Section 19 Prohibited terms

    Insert after section 19 (2) (e):

    (f)that a companion animal of a person who is lawfully residing on the residential premises is not permitted to be kept on the premises.

    The 2016 Census figures show that more than 30 per cent of households in Australia rely on rental accommodation for their housing needs. Combine that figure with the fact that 62 per cent of households have companion animals and we have a significant social problem with the lack of legal protections for tenants with companion animals. This problem is escalating as housing affordability causes many people to remain tenants, often for life. In Europe, where renting is the norm, there is legal recognition that tenants should not be unfairly restricted from experiences such as living with pets.

    A landlord may own a property to derive income and capital gains and it is obviously not unreasonable for them to want to protect that asset. As a society we recognise the benefit that private landlords bring to the housing sector for people who cannot afford to buy their own homes or who are not eligible for social housing. However, we must also acknowledge that the landlord’s asset is also the tenant’s home. I believe that it is entirely reasonable for tenants to be able to enjoy the same benefits of living with companion animals as do home owners. It also helps to address a terrible tragedy, that is, the increasing number of tenants who are forced to surrender their animals to pounds and shelters.

    RSPCA statistics show that 15 per cent of the dogs and cats that are surrendered are because people are moving house and cannot not find accommodation that allows companion animals. As a society we intervene in the operations of many commercial enterprises on the understanding that it is for the public good. We legislate to ensure that retailers must sell food that is not adulterated, that a motel owner cannot refuse to book a room for a gay couple, and that property developers must comply with building standards to ensure public safety. We do this because we believe that public health, welfare and fairness is important and that the “market” is unlikely to provide those protections if left to its own devices.

    Landlords are currently free to refuse tenants and the consequences are such that most landlords choose the easy option of not allowing any pets, without any consideration of the social, physical and psychological benefits that companion animals have in the lives of humans. We live in a society where single and older person households are on the rise. These two groups are at risk of social isolation. For older persons the isolation may be due to physical disabilities or illness. Both groups may struggle with the lack of social interaction leading to anxiety and depression. Psychiatrists at the University of Rochester Medical Center undertook research which found that those living with pets were 36 per cent less likely than non-pet owners to report loneliness. We know that human beings are social animals and that loneliness is a killer. Older adults who report feelings of loneliness are at an increased risk of many serious physical and mental health conditions, including death.

    There have been many research studies undertaken that show a raft of health benefits from living with companion animals. Human-animal relationship lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and people recovering from heart attacks recover more quickly and survive longer when there is a pet in the home. For people living alone, a companion animal may be the only affectionate touch they experience through their day. Petting an animal is known to release oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress as well as boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, which promote alertness and a sense of wellbeing. According to beyondblue, it is estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and that in any one year approximately one million Australian adults will experience depression and more than two million will have anxiety.

    According to depression research, being responsible for the care of an animal promotes mental health. Self-esteem is improved when people realise they are capable of caring for another sentient being. For people debilitated by depression, living with a companion animal brings a structure to the day and may be the only reason that they are able to get out of bed. Feeding, caring and exercising a beloved animal provides positive feedback and helps with healing from depression. I note that the Victorian Government has recently amended its residential tenancy legislation to allow pets in rental accommodation and that the Queensland Government has a similar provision before its Parliament. If our sister States are able to recognise the case in favour of companion animals, then surely we can join them in that compassionate approach. Allowing tenants to have companion animals will not only significantly improve the wellbeing of people but also quite simply save lives, both human and animal. I commend the amendment.

    The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK (11:56): The Animal Justice Party amendment is not supported by the Government. Companion animals are not defined under the Companion Animals Act 1998 as a dog or cat. Properties vary greatly and different types of pets may not be suitable for some properties. The landlord and tenant are best placed to negotiate on whether a particular pet would be appropriate for a property. The Residential Tenancies Act leaves the issue of whether a tenant can keep a pet—but not an assistance animal—to be negotiated between a landlord and tenant, and the Government considers that that is appropriate.

    Mr JUSTIN FIELD (11:57): The Greens support the amendment moved by the Hon. Mark Pearson on behalf of the Animal Justice Party. The Greens had a similar amendment to ensure that those living with companion animals are not unfairly impacted by these changes and that the Residential Tenancy Act supports them to continue to live with their pets. There are more people living in rental properties than ever before. Many of them have pets and these pets are an important part of their family. Certainly I have had that experience living in rental accommodation. I have been fortunate to find rental accommodation where it has been possible for my family to have our pets. I know how important our pets are to my young son. It is important that we keep families together, including the non-human parts of our families. The Greens support the amendments moved by the Animal Justice Party.

    The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE (11:58): The Opposition appreciates the intent of the amendment moved by the Animal Justice Party. We are concerned about the need to ensure that there are not unintended consequences. The best way of doing that is to have consulted fully with all stakeholders involved to ensure that the outcome is both fair and balanced and that there are no negative impacts that we are aware of. While we appreciate the intent, for the reasons I have outlined at this stage the Opposition does not support the amendment.

    The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): The Hon. Mark Pearson has moved Animal Justice Party amendment No. 1 on sheet C2018-119A. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

    Amendment negatived.

  • KANGAROO SLAUGHTERFEST IN NSW

    NOTICE OF MOTION

    On 19th September 2018, Mark Pearson tabled a motion condemning the NSW Government over its treatment of kangaroos.  The full notice of motion can be read here:

    I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:

    1. That this House condemns the government’s decision to amend the licencing provisions under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to allow the almost unrestricted slaughter of kangaroos by      landholders and their agents.

    2. That this House notes that the ongoing drought has caused kangaroos to move in from their native habitats into rural landholdings, in the search for food and water.

    3. That this House notes that it is scientifically impossible for kangaroos to breed up into plague proportions given their low rates of reproduction and high juvenile mortality due to predation.

    4. That this House notes with extreme distress that as a result of the government’s licencing amendments, there is a genocide being committed against kangaroos in country New South Wales.

    5. That this House recognises the extreme stress caused to wildlife carer groups by having to:
    (a) witness the gruesome impact of the virtually unfettered slaughter of kangaroos and
    (b) care for an overwhelming number of injured and orphaned kangaroos as a direct consequence of the loosening of the licencing provisions.

    6. The House calls upon the Minister for Primary Industries to
    (a) facilitate an observational visit to those rural areas where kangaroos are claimed to be in plague proportions and
    (b) invite all members to participate in order to identify areas where kangaroos are
    i. in such numbers that they are at risk of starvation or
    ii. causing irreparable damage to rural landholdings or
    iii. causing the death of cattle and sheep through competition for the available food supply.
    (c) arrange food drops to any areas where kangaroos are found to be starving.

  • Animal Justice Party Introduces Right to Release Bill to NSW Parliament

    On Thursday 21st June the NSW Upper House sat in silence with shock on their faces as Animal Justice Party MLC introduced our Right to Release Bill. The bill has been well received and we will continue to lobby for other parties and members to support the bill if it comes to vote later this year.

    SECOND READING SPEECH

    I am pleased to introduce the Animal Research Amendment (Reduction in Deaths of Dogs and Cats Used for Research) Bill 2018. This is a bill that requires little change to research practices, but it will mean everything to the approximately 1,000 dogs and cats that are routinely killed after being used in non-lethal research each year in New South Wales. Once these animals are no longer required for research purposes, they are killed with an intravenous barbiturate overdose. At times, the impact of the experimental protocol means that there is no alternative for these exploited animals but being put to death. However, if this is not the case, the Animal Justice Party believes these companion animals should be afforded the opportunity to be homed by animal rescue organisations.

    The bill essentially provides a second chance at life for cats and dogs held in research establishments. The Animal Research Act’s overarching principles in regard to the use of animals in research are those of replacement, reduction, and refinement—the three Rs—to cause the least amount of suffering to the least amount of animals. Renowned Indian animal activist Maneka Ghandi, a leading pioneer of animal welfare regulation in India, was successful in adding a fourth R to include “rehabilitation” of research animals. Ghandi’s reforms made it compulsory for research bodies to provide:

    … after-care rendered to animals that have been bred for the purpose of experimentation, subject to any form of experimentation and retained in laboratory animal houses or breeding houses for the purpose of experimentation with the sole purpose of alleviating any pain or suffering due to the physical, physiological, psychological trauma that the animals had been exposed to, and to prolong the life of the animals until the point of natural death.

    The Animal Justice Party’s bill is in line with reforms in other jurisdictions. In the United States, New York, California, Nevada, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois passed legislation providing that animals used in research facilities must first offer dogs and cats to rescue centres before the option of killing can be considered. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and Helping You Help Animals are currently campaigning for the New Zealand Government to enact a mandatory retirement policy for animals used in research, testing, and teaching. Facilities using these animals would have attempted homing of ex-research animals with willing animal rescue organisations before lethal options are considered.

    The Animal Justice Party supports the transition to alternative methods of experimentation. However, the purpose of this bill is not to end animal research per se. The party asserts that experiments on animals are cruel, expensive and represent an outdated nineteenth-century approach to science and medicine. We would like to see investment in methods of studying diseases and testing products that replace animals entirely. There are now far more sophisticated predictors of human health outcomes. The alternatives include in-vitro tests using human cells and tissues, in-silico modeling using advanced computer-modeling techniques, and far more relevant studies with actual human volunteers. Tragically, penicillin was not used until a decade after its discovery because when tested on rabbits it was found to be ineffective. If tested today, it would not be recommended for human use because of its toxicity to guinea pigs.

    There are far more biological differences between and within animal species that can affect the results of any experiment, including variations based on different ages, sexes and developmental stages. There are numerous examples of drug testing on animals that inadvertently led to harmful drugs being approved for use on humans. Benoxaprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, was tested on rhesus monkey with no ill effects, but human patients suffered severe liver toxicity and phototoxicity; and Rezulin, which safely lowered the blood sugar in rats, caused 391 human deaths due to liver toxicity.

    Government statistics show that more than six million animals are used every year in Australia for medical research, experiments and surgical skills training, the majority of which are rats and mice. While the Animal Justice Party would like to see all these animals spared from invasive and cruel experimentation, I believe this bill is the beginning of a more enlightened approach to animal experimentation. It is a welfare-focused approach to those animals that have been domesticated for thousands of years to live with us and to trust us with their lives and wellbeing.

    The object of this bill is to amend the Animal Research Act 1985, requiring research establishments to take all reasonable steps to home a dog or a cat that is no longer required by accredited persons for animal research purposes unless a vet or authorised person has determined that the dog or cat is not suitable to be homed. Such reasonable steps include: first, socialising or training the dog or cat to ensure that the dog or cat is suitable for homing; secondly, causing the dog or cat to be given to a person or animal homing organisation; or, thirdly, any other action taken in accordance with the code of practice under that Act. I use the word “homed” rather than”rehomed” because of the lives dogs and cats experience in these facilities, which cannot in any way be described as homes.

    The RSPCA states that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with about 62 percent of Australian households living with companion animals. Of those households, 38 percent share their home with a dog and 29 percent with a cat. Looking around the Chamber, there will be many members like me who share their home with dogs and cats. The dogs and cats used in research are no different from our four-legged companions who curl up in our laps or accompany us on our walks. It takes little imagination to consider how our companions would react to months of confinement in a research facility, deprived of exercise and entertainment, a caring touch or a kind word. The sterile, barren and isolated housing and the frightening or painful procedures may be too much for some to bear, but this bill limits the length of confinement and mandates socialisation or training so that animals stand a chance of retaining the ability to live as domestic animals in a family environment.

    Undoubtedly some research is so invasive and so traumatic to both body and spirit that the dog or cat must be euthanised. Humane Research Australia has detailed experiments on greyhounds where researchers deliberately asphyxiated dogs for 30 minutes to cause the loss of function of the heart and lungs. The hearts were then surgically removed and preserved for four hours, after which period heart transplantation was performed and the dogs’ recovery was assessed. Those that recovered were then killed. Other greyhounds were subject to cosmetic dental experimentation which involved the removal of teeth, sections of jawbone and replaced with dental implants. The Greyhounds were then killed so that the researchers could remove the jaws for examination. This is despite there being little similarity between a dog and a human jaw.

    At Sydney University in 2011, 11 cats were subjected to vision research. A partial craniotomy and bilateral cervical sympathectomy, which cuts the nerve supply to parts of the head and eyes, was then performed. The cats’ heads were restrained in a stereotaxic device and a plastic cylinder was glued to the skull and a small opening was made in the brain matter where a microelectrode was placed and recorded neuron activity. Solutions were applied to the eyes to dilate the pupils and to retract the blinking membranes. The eyes were focused on a screen position using corrective lenses. At the end of the experiment, each cat was killed and the brain removed and studied.No outcomes have been identified.

    The Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching raised concerns about using 11 cats for what seemed like “clearly an example of basic research … without any particular application or use in view”. The Bionics Institute conducted experiments on day-old kittens that are artificially induced to become profoundly deaf. Cochlear implants are inserted while the kittens are anaesthetized and placed in a stereotaxic frame where the brain is exposed and stimulated by electrodes implanted into the brain. The kittens are then killed. Beagles are known for their placid natures and are often bred for sale to research facilities. They are used to test medical or pharmaceutical items, household products, cosmetics and for veterinary training. Not all beagles die as a result of the experiments conducted upon them, and they can languish for years in sterile cages, waiting for the next round of research to begin. Once their usefulness comes to an end they are killed.

    The Animal Research Act was passed more than 30 years ago in New South Wales and was in response to the first stirring of the animal rights movement in challenging the ethics of keeping and using animals for medical and scientific research. The Act was designed to assuage the concerns of the general public that a proper system of oversight was in place to ensure the humane treatment of animals used in research. The Animal Research Act provides for a licensing system for research establishments to keep animals for the purposes of conducting research. The Act also established an Animal Research Review Panel responsible for a number of areas including oversight of the supply of animals for use in connection with animal research. While neither the Animal Research Act nor the regulations address the issue of homing, the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes does consider the rehoming of animals. Clause 3.4.2 states:

    Opportunities to rehome animals should be considered wherever possible, especially when the impact of the project or activity on the wellbeing of the animal has been minimal and their physiological condition and behavioural attributes indicate that they can be introduced to a new environment with minimal, transient impact on their wellbeing.

    The Animal Research Review Panel and the Animal Welfare Branch of the Department of Primary Industries have developed policies and guidelines to assist researchers and teachers, members of animal ethics committees and the management of scientific institutions to understand and comply with the requirements of the Animal Research Act, the regulations and the code of practice. Within the “Guidelines for the Care and Housing of Dogs in Scientific Institutions”, the Animal Research Review Panel has recommended in clause 13.4 that euthanasia should only be considered if the impact of the experimental protocol prevents the animal being returned to a normal life, or if the dog cannot be satisfactorily socialised.

    My bill is intended to ensure that accredited research establishments, wherever possible, assist in the homing of cats and dogs after the non-lethal research ends and the animal is not required for research. My bill will insert a new section into the Animal Research Act, section 56B, which includes a requirement that the agency socialises or trains the dog or cat to ensure that they are suitable for homing. They must take reasonable steps to cause the dog or cat to be bought or adopted or given to an animal homing organisation by notifying the Animal Research Review Panel that the dog or cat is available to be homed. There are provisions to comply with the code of practice.

    The bill also provides that in order to ensure the best possible chance of successful rehabilitation into a domestic environment, cats and dogs cannot be kept by an authorised person for more than six months or, with the approval of the panel, 12 months. In consultations with animal behaviourists, the consensus was that anything longer than 12 months confinement is the outer limit for companion animals placed in such stressful and barren conditions. Whilst the specifics of each individual research project undertaken would have an impact on an animal’s capacity to be homed, 12 months would be more than enough time for an animal to develop negative associations with human interactions.

    The list of specific facilities that use cats and dogs in medical research is not publicly available. In lieu of being able to consult directly with these researchers and groups, consultations have taken place with Dr. Malcolm France, a chairperson to the University of Technology Sydney [UTS] Animal Care and Ethics Committee, and a New South Wales consultant in laboratory animal care and management. Dr. France liaises with many of these establishments. He has expressed support for the bill and considers that it will significantly improve welfare outcomes for dogs and cats capable of being homed.

    Dr. France’s feedback has helped shape this bill and has also provided guidance regarding the development of a confidentiality protocol between rescue groups and institutions to ensure that researchers and their staff feel protected and confident in the process. I have also consulted with a previous Animal Research Review Panel member, Ms. Emma Hurst, and current panel member Paula Wallace in regards to the practicalities of the bill. Both have expressed the belief that homing is not an onerous addition to the panel’s responsibilities and that the panel is also examining ways to encourage more homing practices with all animal species used in research.

    This bill has its genesis in a trial homing program that was instituted in 2014. The Research Animal Rehoming Service, run by a panel member of the Animal Research Review Panel, was created to assist with the rehoming of retired research animals. The service was promoted at its inception in an e-newsletter sent from the Department of Primary Industries to research facilities and animal ethics committees in New South Wales. While smaller animals have been rehomed, no cats or dogs have been offered up for homing. While research staff may occasionally adopt a dog or cat with whom they have developed a bond, the vast majority of healthy animals are still killed without any attempts made for rehabilitation or homing.

    Despite the provisions of the code of practice and the policy and guidelines which support homing, such practices remain rare, especially for dogs and cats in research institutions. Accordingly, I consider that homing must be expressly directed in the legislation to ensure greater take-up by research institutions. The current voluntary practice is failing to provide re-homing opportunities for dogs and cats. The bill provides a clear process for research facilities to understand their responsibilities and for rescue and rehoming organisations to give cats and dogs used in research the opportunity to be rehomed. If surrender cannot be arranged with any rescue organisations due to space or other concerns, the research facility can choose to rehome privately. Only when these options are exhausted should euthanasia be considered.

    The bill charges the Animal Research Review Panel with the responsibility of establishing a database of animal rescue and rehoming organisations including the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League, the Cat Protection Society and rescue agencies registered under the Companion Animals Act and alerting those that have indicated a potential interest when animals are available for homing. This need not be more than an email alert and would not be resource intensive for the panel. The Animal Care and Ethics Committee also has a duty to monitor the appropriateness of euthanasia for cats and dogs that are deemed unsuitable for homing.

    In consultation with rescue and rehoming groups, there is general support for the establishment of a homing database. The RSPCA recognises the benefits of suitable research animals to be offered for homing. I will be consulting with the National Health and Medical Research Council and animal ethics committees across New South Wales in the coming two months before the bill comes back before the House for consideration. In regards to the socialisation and training requirements of the bill, if objections are raised about the practicalities of these requirements then questions must be asked about the current living arrangements for companion animals in these facilities and compliance with the Animal Research Review Panel guideline No. 14 published in 1999, “Guidelines for the Care and Housing of Dogs in Scientific Institutions”, which details aspects of dog behaviour relevant to housing and husbandry.

    Clause 3.1 clearly states that dogs are social animals and are better housed in groups than individually and that social isolation can be a severe stressor for dogs. If dogs are to be individually housed for a project, the animals should be given extra human interaction, care, attention and play activities apart from normal husbandry procedures. Group interaction for individually housed dogs should occur whenever possible, by pairing dogs during play times or during lead walks. Under 3.1.3, staff need to be experienced in animal behaviour and need to be able to understand and monitor the dogs based on group interactions dependent upon age, sex, breed, reproductive status, prior socialisation, sibling relationships, facilities and capability of staff to manage the group.

    Clause 3.1.4 emphasises how human socialising is extremely important for most dogs and essential in accustoming them to human handling procedures in experimental studies, with dogs that actively avoid or reject human socialisation being unsuitable for research. Clause 3.2 details the design and construction of housing to avoid triggering aggressive behaviour. If the dog experiences difficulties in coping with the kennelling condition, strategies must be used to avoid behavioural problems and the facilities must provide the dogs with opportunities for behavioural choice. Given the improvements in understanding the behavioural needs of companion animals since the Animal Research Act was introduced, upgrades may be needed regardless of this proposed bill. All cats and dogs should receive regular socialisation, time with other animals, and positive experiences with their human guardians as a basic requirement for their physical and psychological wellbeing.

    For those members who may be concerned about the suitability of animals placed on the database, nothing within the bill would put families or rescue agencies at risk. A dog or cat is not required to be homed under section 56B subsection (2) where a veterinary practitioner or a person with such relevant qualifications has determined that the dog or cat is not suitable to be homed. However, there are checks in place to ensure that vets do not simply rubber-stamp animals as unsuitable. Under subsection (8) if a dog or cat is determined to be unsuitable for homing by a veterinary practitioner or other person under subsection (7), the authorised person is not to cause the cat or dog to be killed without the approval of the Animal Care and Ethics Committee. This is a modest, uncontroversial reform with a simple mechanism that has the potential to save the lives of thousands of otherwise healthy companion animals. I am confident that the millions of companion animal loving residents of New South Wales would overwhelmingly support this bill and I commend it to the House.

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