• Opinion: Who benefits from silencing animal activists?

    Recent media publications by The Land and The Guardian of meeting documents provides disturbing details of a forum held in August last year between agribusiness owners, NSW Farmers Federation, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair along with Police and the RSPCA. They reveal the extent to which industry and government are working together to silence activists seeking to expose animal cruelty in farming.

    barnaby-joyce-australian-pork

    Federal agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce

    The documents obtained under freedom of information laws confirm what many activists have argued for a long time; the interconnected links between animal agriculture, government and sadly, the RSPCA. The forum participants committed to an action plan to harmonise state laws regarding the supposed threat of “farm trespass” by animal activists. The plan reflects the fears of an industry that understands the implications of its routine practices being exposed to the public. Transparency and truth are to be avoided at all costs. We also see Federal and State governments intent on ensuring cruel practices remain hidden from view. Rather than listening to community concerns and accepting that animal welfare standards need to be radically reformed, government is determined to keep animal welfare legislation in the 1970s.

    One of the more alarming revelations is the active participation of the RSPCA in such discussions. The RSPCA’s willingness to side with industry and government is an affront to their charter, and would no doubt come as a surprise their many supporters. The fact that the RSPCA participated in such discussions which made no mention of enforcement or prosecution of animal cruelty laws is concerning. One is entitled to ask, what is the role of the RSPCA in farm trespass policy discussions? Why are they not holding industry to account for their cruel practices? As has been said many times; if we kept a dog in the same conditions that industry keeps pigs in intensive farms, animal cruelty charges would be laid.

    The document identified that;

    38 piggeries in the Young area of NSW, along with poultry farms in other states, were known to have been “invaded for the purpose of installing unauthorised surveillance devices, ostensibly to ‘reveal’ animal husbandry practice believed to be poor”.

    Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, this statement reflects the absolute lack of concern for animal well-being. The treatment of these animals is appalling, not poor. Animal cruelty is standard industry practice, not an aberration. Activists seek to bring transparency and truth to the public arena, enabling consumers to make balanced decisions about their purchases and food choices.

    If industry is confident that their practices are acceptable then there should be no issue with footage showing industry practice. If the government is confident that their animal welfare laws are so robust, then let’s show those lawful practices to the public. Tail docking, castration, eye teeth clipping, debeaking, removal of skin (mulesing), battery cages, farrowing crates, faeces laden broiler sheds- let’s shine the camera light onto the everyday cruelties that these animals suffer.

    mark-pearson-factory-farm-sow-stall-1

    NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie is documented as stating that;

    “These incursions fall into the ‘trespass with intent’ category, NSW Police have been investigating these incidents actively, but evidence gathering around such incidents presents significant challenges”.

    No comment on the crimes exposed by activists?

    Many may not be aware, but the NSW Police are also an enforcement agency under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is not just the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League that has powers to enforce and prosecute animal cruelty crimes, yet the attitude of government and the NSW Police is to leave enforcement to a poorly resourced charitable organisation that is almost completely unaccountable to government. Yet significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists.

    Statistics show that cruelty committed against animals often leads to crimes committed against people, yet, as can be seen from this attitude of the NSW Police, significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists filming intensive farms. This shows a narrow-minded approach to tackling crime and future protection of the community. Would the community, or indeed government be satisfied if a child services charity were tasked with the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against children? Would it be acceptable for the NSW Police to be actively pursuing whistle-blowers filming or recording child abuse despite the physical smacking of children being lawful?

    NSW Police also told the forum that;

    “the ideology of farm trespass by animal activists was “complex” and not based on improving animal welfare practices.”

    This is correct, it is not the job of animal activist to improve animal welfare. This is the job of every stakeholder that attended this forum and their decisions should be based on truth, transparency, and the wider public’s expectations of what is acceptable welfare practices. Indeed, the activists are doing the job that all these stakeholders are failing to do themselves, that is to publish the truth to the public and allowing the public to decide what they expect. Instead, animal welfare is seen as an unnecessary cost to already profitable business models that seek to sanitise and disconnect the public from what really goes on behind the factory farm shed door.

    The documents go on to suggest;

    “Introduction of other measures to improve evidence collection, for example, security cameras may also be considered.”

    How can someone, on one hand, justify installing elaborate security recording networks to deter activists YET dismiss sensible reforms such as mandatory CCTV of inside the shed or inside the slaughterhouse? Does one not stop and think that maybe, if farmers installed cameras facing in the shed, on the animals, then there will be no need for cameras facing outside the shed to deter activists?

    animal-justice-party-ag-gag-1

    Indeed, for me it has become personal. Twelve months ago I attempted to visit Rivalea pig slaughterhouse to discuss the cruel method by which pigs are subjected to gassing prior to slaughter. I was refused entry at the front gate and never left public space and yet I am currently the subject of a police investigation as a result of that visit. Again, this is a sign of cover up and intimidation, rather than let an elected MP formally tour the facility and witness the slaughtering method, I was denied access. Rivalea engaged their industry heavyweight, Australian Pork Ltd, and now almost 12 months to the day I am contacted by the NSW Police and informed that I am under investigation. It is true that, due to all the industry efforts to hide and cover up standard practices that they are ironically so proud of, they have in fact made the public more suspicious.

     something-today-that-your-future-self-will-thank-you-for

     mark-digital-signature-1

  • MEDIA RELEASE-Animal Justice Party MP questions Katrina Hodgkinson’s priorities concerning Blantyre Farm’s DA

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Mark Pearson, Animal Justice Party MP, has questioned why Member for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, is advocating priority for the interests of intensive pig farmers Blantyre Farms, over the interests of her own electorate. Intensive pig farmers, Edwina & Michael Beveridge of Blantyre Farms lodged a development application in December 2015 to duplicate their Young shire, Golden Grove and Dead Horse Gully piggeries in the neighbouring Hilltops council region. Blantyre Farms have continued to attract wide spread criticism since the public exposure of their Young piggery practices and operations through the Aussiefarms campaign in 2013.

    The Blantyre Farms Development Application has generated significant community and public interest with thousands of objectors raising valid and legitimate concerns and issues, which have been echoed by council and state government agencies.”
    There is mandated planning process at both state government and local council level, and Ms Hodgkinson should just allow that process to take place in the interest of a thorough examination of the merits of the application.

    Mr Pearson confirmed issues raised by thousands of objectors includes the welfare of animals, the environment and a broad range of concerns about the impact on the community, immediate neighbours, workers and consumers, public health, biosecurity and biodiversity.

    From my understanding, it has not been a case where Hilltops council have ‘sat’ on this DA or that the ‘approval process had been lagging’, as has been suggested by Ms Hodgkinson.

    The assessment period has been exacerbated by information from Blantyre Farms themselves, which has repeatedly been found ‘wanting’ with questionable, missing, ambiguous, and non-evidenced information.

    Most recently Blantyre Farms have been required to revise information they have previously submitted to council. This includes pig mortality numbers now estimated to be approximately 8,600 per year. These are the piglets and pigs which die or are killed in the Blantyre Farms intensive sheds.

    A critical factor environmentally, is how the massive volume of Blantyre Farms generated waste would be managed. In their previous information, Blantyre Farms stated they would be able to disperse all the effluent and dead composted pigs on their property. Blantyre Farms have now stated they will still have an excess surplus of approximately two hundred & fifty tons of manure per year. This surplus waste will now need to be disposed of elsewhere. Mr Pearson is also concerned that Ms Hodgkinson does not appear to acknowledge the voice of the local community, her own electorate and the public and has not acknowledged the critical inclusion of submissions and council’s obligations to adhere to the planning process.

    Ms Hodgkinson was dumped by her own party from any ministerial responsibility. Her sole responsibility now is to represent all members of her own electorate in a fair, balanced and non-biased manner. Based on concerns I have had raised with my office, this does not appear to be happening.

    mark-pearson-animal-justice-party-katrina-hodgkinson

    Mr Pearson has continued to strongly oppose intensive piggeries and was one of the original activists involved with the exposure of a Parkville based piggery in which former prime minister, Paul Keating had a commercial interest.

  • Notice of Motion-Racing NSW Horse welfare fund

    RACING NSW HORSE WELFARE FUND

    (1) That this House congratulates Racing NSW for its decision to establish a Horse Welfare Fund which will be financed predominantly from a 1 per cent levy on all racing prize money paid in New South Wales.

    (2) That this House commends Racing NSW’s commitment that all New South Wales thoroughbred horses will be appropriately cared for outside of their racing careers and that this includes ex-racehorses as well as those thoroughbred horses that have never made it to the race track.

    (3) That this House notes that Racing NSW will provide resources for the care, retraining and eventual rehoming of all New South Wales thoroughbred horses by:

    (a) appointing a dedicated team of staff to manage the program, including a Horse Welfare Veterinarian;

    (b) establishing partnerships with riding schools, pony clubs, local agricultural societies and other equestrian organisations to promote the rehoming of thoroughbred horses;

    (c) expanding the current Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Program with additional re-trainers to vastly increase the capacity for new horses; and

    (d) raising awareness for thoroughbred welfare and undertaking training days for their new owners.

    Motion agreed to.

  • Notice of Motion congratulating Virgin Australia

    REHOMING OF COMPANION ANIMALS

    (1) That this House congratulates Virgin Australia and Jetpets on entering into a partnership with companion animal rescue charities, Australian Working Dogs Rescue, RSPCA and Pet Rescue to:

    (a) provide free transport for companion animal adoptions and rehoming throughout Australia; and

    (b) assist in the relocation of surrendered greyhounds requiring rehoming as a consequence of the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Act 2016.

    (2) That this House notes that every successful rehoming of a companion animal removes a dog or cat from death row in council pounds and RSPCA shelters.

    Motion agreed to.

  • Question without Notice-Yabby traps drowning Native wildlife

    YABBY TRAPS

    It seems the Minister believes the suffering of native Australian Water Rats is somewhat amusing. Has Niall Blair not understand we stand for ALL animals, not just the ones the wider public deem cute and unique?

    Other states have state wide bans on these specific yabby traps as they indiscriminately trap and drown other air breathing animals. However, here in NSW these traps are only prohibited where the Platypus is found, does a water rat or a turtle not suffer the same as the platypus? What about the suffering of the Yabby?

    I asked the question and not only did the Minister seem to laugh at my interest in the suffering of other animals but he did not even come close to answering the question. So much so, that, when I attempt to ask a supplementary question The President ruled it out of order.

    QUESTION

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. As prescribed by the Fisheries Management Regulations, opera house style yabby traps are banned from use in public waters east of the Newell Highway, where platypuses are found. The ban was implemented in response to the number of animals being drowned in these traps. It is, however, still legal to use these traps in public waters in parts of western New South Wales. New South Wales Fisheries has published advice on how to modify the traps so as to limit bycatch, yet in areas such as Menindee Australian water rats are caught and drowned in the traps.

    Will the Minister follow the example of States such as Victoria and impose a statewide ban on opera house style traps so as to protect our native animals?

    If not, why not?

    ANSWER

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the member for his very detailed question. As I look across to the President’s gallery to see whether there is a note on such a detailed question, the response on the faces of my advisers is the reason that I find the beginning of my answer somewhat humorous. I am certainly on my own on this one. It is a serious question. If the Department of Primary Industries [DPI] Fisheries, which comprises some of the most outstanding scientific minds in this country, has determined that certain parts of the State warrant the use of so-called opera house traps and other parts of the State do not then, without having any information to hand, I say that the determination it has made is the right one.

    We have some of the best scientific advice on fish stocks and fishing methods in New South Wales estuaries. If DPI Fisheries has determined that the traps are appropriate in certain parts of the State I support the status quo. If the department provides me with further advice on this matter I will be happy to review that advice. At the moment, if there is a clear distinction and there has been a decision to allow the traps in certain areas I assume some form of assessment has occurred. That assessment would have been undertaken by the best in the business. If I receive any further advice from DPI Fisheries I will be happy to share that with the member.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Would the Minister elucidate his answer in relation to why the Department of Primary Industries does not follow other States that have a complete ban?

    The PRESIDENT: Order! The standing order is quite clear. A supplementary question must ask for elucidation of an aspect of an answer. It is not in order to ask the Minister to address a part of the question that was not answered. As I said in a previous ruling, other than the requirement that a Minister be relevant and not debate the question, a Minister is free to choose to answer as he or she wishes. I am afraid I have to rule the supplementary question out of order.

Page 5 of 12« First...34567...10...Last »