• THE ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY CALLS FOR MANDATORY CCTV CAMERAS IN ABATTOIRS

    17th November 2017

    MEDIA RELEASE


    Animal Justice Party MP, Mark Pearson calls for mandatory CCTVs in all abattoirs after yet another expose of animal cruelty; the latest in a poultry processing plant in Melbourne where footage shows spent layer hens entering scalding tanks whilst still alive.

    “The suffering of these birds would have been immense as their shackled bodies were lowered into the boiling water. These animals should have already been stunned and killed before they were immersed in the boiling water for feather loosing. We are constantly told by the regulatory authorities that such events are ‘isolated incidents by rogue employees’, but in fact such incidents occur frequently, often due workers being pressured to keep the kill chain going even where malfunctioning machinery causes harm to animals.”

    “For the sake of animal protection and to put management on notice that any acts of cruelty will be filmed and exposed, CCTV cameras should be mandatory in all places where animals are being slaughtered. There also needs to be resourcing for regular inspections of CCTV footage by the relevant authorities and a truly independent animal welfare regulator that has the capacity to ensure that any cruelty that is uncovered, is prosecuted.”

    The Animal Justice Party MP currently has before NSW Parliament a bill for mandatory CCTVs to be installed in all abattoirs. Debate and vote on the bill is expected next week in the Legislative Council’s final sitting for the year.

  • PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION FINAL REPORT INTO AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE

    30th March 2017

    Last week the Productivity Commission publicly released its Final Report into Australian Agriculture Regulations.  Among other industry concerns regarding land, water and natural resources use, food labelling, and GMO, the Report also gave a thorough overview of the state of play when it comes to farmed animal welfare in Australia.  It was heartening to see such articulate and professional submissions made on behalf of farmed animals and the unnecessary suffering they endure each and everyday.

    The Animal Justice Party submitted a detailed response to the draft report highlighting the Party’s views on an Independent Office of Animal Welfare, live export and state based animal cruelty legislation.  In addition many other organisations such as Animals Australia, PETA Australia, Vegan Australia, Animal Liberation, World Animal Protection, Voiceless and Animal Defenders Office echoed the need for a drastic overhaul of how the community expects farms animals should be treated.  However, it is still disappointing to note that most of the environmental groups seem to be still in denial about the massive adverse impacts animal agriculture is having on our climate, biodiversity and emissions.

    live-export-cattle-australia-1

    Given the overwhelming consistency within the submissions in regards community expectations concerning farmed animal welfare, it is pleasing to see the Final Report note these concerns and make recommendations in-line with the general public.  For too long industry has had the political advantage of drafting its own rules, regulations and responsibilities with the main focus being on boosting profit.  Below is a brief overview of some of the Final Report recommendations for animal welfare.

    • Animal welfare regulations are to be reformed so as to achieve welfare outcomes that (among other things) meet community expectations.  However, the current process for setting standards for farmed animal welfare does not adequately value the benefits of animal welfare to the community.
    • The process for setting standards would be improved through the creation of a statutory agency responsible for developing national farmed animal welfare standards using rigorous science and evidence of community values for farmed animal welfare.
    • Conflict of interest is an issue — the main concerns were disproportionate industry influence and perceptions of conflicts of interests of agriculture departments (that are responsible for farmed animal welfare policy).
    • After closely considering submissions and evidence from hearings on this matter, the Commission maintains the view that the most effective approach would be to establish an independent statutory agency — the Australian Commission for Animal Welfare (ACAW) — with responsibility for developing the national standards — the standards would be implemented and enforced by state and territory governments.

    A copy of the Final Report can be found HERE, go straight to Section 5 for Animal Welfare. It is important to note that much of what has been documented in the report is still a far cry from what is expected by the majority of the public, however, it is a positive sign that the voice for animals grows stronger by the day and will get even stronger with more Animal Justice Party elected representatives.

    In light of the release of the report, our single AJP MP, Mark Pearson, questioned the NSW DPI Minister on the reports recommendations and how NSW would respond. As the below video and transcript shows, the Minister is still in the hands of industry and not representing the NSW public’s concerns about animal welfare.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries. The recently published recommendation 5.1 of the Productivity Commission final report into Australian agriculture strongly endorsed the establishment of an independent statutory agency which would meet community expectations of accountability, transparency and high animal welfare standards.

    In light of this recommendation and given the Minister’s often stated confidence in the robustness of New South Wales’ animal cruelty laws and enforcement authorities, as well as the Government’s commitment to deliver on community expectations, will the Government establish an independent statutory body for animal welfare in New South Wales, and if not, why not?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. As Minister for Primary Industries, I have stated on many occasions in this House that we take animal welfare seriously. We believe that most of the participants within our industries take animal welfare seriously as well, which is why, quite often, we have allowed most of the system improvements and animal welfare improvements in New South Wales to be led by the industries that know them best. Good animal welfare practice is good farming practice when it comes to our primary industries. The Hon. Mark Pearson made mention of the Productivity Commission’s report. The Productivity Commission made a number of recommendations in areas concerning primary industries.

    The New South Wales Government takes note of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations but at times we can look at those recommendations and see that we have a system that is better suited to New South Wales. One has only to look at the recent decision of the Government to continue rice vesting in New South Wales, although it was contrary to the Productivity Commission’s recommendation when it looked at that issue. Likewise, when it comes to animal welfare we believe the systems and the agencies in New South Wales are adequate. At the moment they are serving their purpose. Because the Productivity Commission has looked at it and said one thing does not mean we have to go down that path. We always look at what is best for business and industry in New South Wales. We have the ability to take the recommendations of the Productivity Commission on board but we also have the ability to review our systems and current measures, and if they are adequate we will continue with those.

    I have faith in our systems in New South Wales. I have faith in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. I also have faith in the agencies under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that are responsible for the enforcement of animal welfare. I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I know he is extremely interested in this area and I know he has a different view from me. He does not have the same faith in those agencies because he has been influenced by his past interactions with them. As I said, we look at what others research and find, and then we look at those issues through the lens of what is best for New South Wales. We did it with rice vesting, and it is what we are doing with animal welfare.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister please elucidate how the New South Wales approach to this report is either the same as or an improvement on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The New South Wales approach is the best approach for New South Wales.

  • baby chicks

    LIVE MACERATION OF MALE CHICKS IN THE EGG INDUSTRY

    10th August 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Live maceration of male chicks.

    POULTRY WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:03): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. The current egg production regulatory framework allows for the live maceration or gassing to death of millions of newly hatched male chicks as “industry wastage” because they are of no economic benefit to the industry. Gene technology can now differentiate between male and female chicks in the early egg incubation phase, with German researchers soon to release a commercially viable in-ovo sexing test that will result in the destruction of male embryo eggs prior to them developing sensibility and a capacity to feel distress and pain. Will the Minister advise when the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry will be revised to prohibit the live maceration or gassing of male chicks as an unjustifiable practice?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:04): I thank the member for his question and for highlighting the research the industry is doing and its investment into advancements in chicken sexing in egg production. It is a good example of how our food and fibre primary producers are addressing issues of concern to consumers. They are investing a record amount into research and continuing to look at the innovation and technology available in Australia and around the world for their production processes. We should all be standing up and saying that is exactly what we want to see from a mature primary industries sector in this State. For example, they are investing in better techniques in animal husbandry and, as the member highlighted, in chicken sexing in the egg industry. That is what we ask of our industries.

    My point is that we do not need government to be telling industry what to do. In this case our primary producers are leading the charge and backing up their actions with record amounts of money. They are at the forefront of ensuring they are responsive to some of the issues in their industries. For further information, the industry is funding research by the CSIRO to enable the sexing of chickens in the early development phase in the egg. This will mean that sexing can occur close to point of lay and not require incubating and hatching of male chicks. The industry is doing that in cooperation with the CSIRO, which is a great example of how our primary producers are working within their industries. In some cases they do not need us to come down with a heavy hand and introduce legislation telling them what to do because they are already doing it.

    I have previously spoken in this House about our pork sector. I know the member is concerned about sow stalls. Again, the industry determined that it would voluntarily get rid of sow stalls and more than 70 per cent of the sector has gone down that path. That has not happened because we told them to do it; they were already doing it. They understood the issue and put their money where their mouth is. They are working with all producers to address those issues. I am proud of the primary producers in this State. They understand the issues that concern their consumers. Whether it is mulesing or egg or pork production, our producers are leading the charge. They do not need us to tell them what to do because they are already doing it.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:08): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister please go to the specificity of the question, which relates to when in-ovo chick sexing is available will the Government amend the model code of practice to prohibit the maceration and gassing of male chicks?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:08): I thank the member for his supplementary question. Without repeating too much of my previous answer, layer chickens are specifically bred for egg production and the male chickens are unsuitable for rearing for meat. Male layer chickens are killed upon hatching and sexing of the chickens at layer hen hatcheries. This is recognised practice in the industry globally. Maceration is a humane method of killing day-old chickens as the chickens are killed instantly. It is recommended in the current national Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry, fourth edition. The industry is funding research by the CSIRO to enable the sexing of chickens in the early development phase in the egg. This will mean that sexing can occur close to point of lay and not require incubating and hatching of male chicks.

  • THE GREENS CLIMATE CHANGE BILL

    23rd March 2016

    In the ensuing debate around climate change, emissions and human impacts that took part in reference to the Greens Climate Change Bill, all ignored the cow in the room, that is animal agriculture. Whilst I and the Animal Justice Party acknowledge the devastating impacts as a result of fossil fuels, we think it is somewhat convenient that animal agriculture is omitted from the debate. Is it easier to force government and industry to change than to change our own habits? In my speech I didn’t feel the need to address the common enemies but to challenge those that believe in climate change to acknowledge the impact of animal agriculture and hopefully change their lifestyle to suit.

    Google ‘meat and climate change’ or ‘diet and climate change’ and countless articles supporting this pop up, the UN acknowledges it and here in Australia it is the hot topic. When we have 29 million cattle, 72 million sheep and just 23 million people, our accumulated climate impact is right up there with France, with its 66 million people. It’s not always the human population that determines a country’s environmental impact.

    Read my speech below and for the full debate go here.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: The Animal Justice Party supports the Climate Change Bill 2015. I congratulate Ms Jan Barham and her staff on all the work that has gone into this bill. The Animal Justice Party will support the Opposition’s amendment to refer this bill to the relevant committee. In December 2015 the landmark climate conference in Paris found that animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than the transport system around the world, so it is important to take this issue on board. Thirty-eight years ago Russian scientist Vladimir Nesterenko publicly stated that the death of frogs in the Himalayan mountains was a measure of climate and atmosphere crisis. Frogs have a membrane that measures in the most sensitive way any changes to the environment. Vladimir Nesterenko was a visionary scientist.

    We are now seeing the consequences of his prediction. It is important to look at the chain of events that led to animal agriculture. We clear old growth forest to grow grain with a lot of water, the grain is then harvested and transported long distances creating further emissions, it is stored in silos and from those silos transported to feedlots that practise intensive farming such as cattle, piggeries, battery hen facilities and other livestock. That then creates massive effluent pools. It is clear that the movement towards animal agriculture on such a major scale around the world is, as the Paris conference finding states, contributing more to global warming than the transport system around the world, which is quite a statement. It is irrelevant whether climate change is due to a natural change in the universe caused by the movement of the sun and earth or is directly related to human kind’s activities or a combination of the two—which the Animal Justice Party says is the case.

    What is relevant is that the human species is capable of bringing change, grappling with problems and crises and can contribute to reducing global warming. What is clear is that we have to support a move towards a plant-based diet. While we push animal agriculture into China and other Asian countries we are striking at and feeding the fundamental problems contributing to global warming. The Animal Justice Party supports this bill but will also support the Opposition’s amendment to send the bill to the relevant committee. The Animal Justice Party will push for terms of reference to include an analysis of the animal agriculture industry and its contribution to global warming. I commend the bill to the House. I commend the Opposition’s amendment to refer the bill to the relevant committee.

  • PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AMENDMENT (STOCK ANIMALS) BILL 2015

    22nd October 2015

    Second reading speech.

    Amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AMENDMENT (STOCK ANIMALS) BILL 2015

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

    Second Reading

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [10.50 a.m.]: I move:

    That this bill be now read a second time.

    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Stock Animals) Bill 2015 goes to the very heart of the principles of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979—an Act that is about being proactive, not reactive. I refer to the fundamental principles of the Act, which were reviewed in 1997. The objects stipulate that the duty of care, control and supervision of animals is a positive duty, not a reactive one. The fundamental principle of this bill is that a person must promote and ensure the welfare of animals and must prevent cruelty or harm and suffering to those animals, even if the act of cruelty is not intentional.

    The object of the bill relates to the wellbeing or welfare of livestock, that is, stock animals including poultry, pigs and cattle. In New South Wales the numbers of poultry are in the millions. As we speak, up to seven million chickens or poultry are being kept in various stages of intensive housing, as well as up to approximately 900,000 pigs and tens of thousands of cattle. This bill relates to intensive farming as well as to intensive and free-range facilities and the need to provide a secure enclosed area to protect the animals from predators and extremities in temperatures.

    Several incidents have stimulated me, on behalf of the Animal Justice Party, to introduce this bill. These include incidences of extreme suffering where many hundreds of animals have burnt to death. A recent incident occurred at Wonga piggery near Young in central New South Wales where 2,500 weaners were killed in a fire. The manager of that piggery stated that he had no knowledge of how the fire started. Another incident was at Boen Boe Stud piggery near Joadja in the Southern Highlands where on 9 April 2015 400 pigs were burnt to death in a fire. In a facility near Gloucester belonging to Pace Farm approximately 22,000 hens were burnt to death in a fire. I will talk about alarm systems later.

    I turn now to the three major areas that this bill addresses. First, it addresses the risk of fire. The bill provides that the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock-keeping facility must ensure that a fire sprinkler system is installed and maintained in the abattoir or facility. At a piggery at Grong Grong, 500 pigs died from heat stress as a result of a breakdown of the ventilation system. The alarm system did not function properly so the owners were not alerted and were unable to assist the animals. I was in attendance at Henholme, a battery hen facility owned by Pace Farm, when it was discovered that the feeding system had malfunctioned. Feed was pouring out onto the hens and several hundred of the hens were suffocated. No alarm system was in place to notify management of any malfunctions. This bill contains a requirement for the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock-keeping facility to install and maintain an alarm system.

    In New South Wales and elsewhere several incidences of cruelty to animals, often egregious cruelty to animals, have been exposed. These incidences were exposed by way of surveillance camera recordings. How and who installed the cameras is not relevant. The recordings of the treatment of animals have resulted in investigations and prosecutions by the NSW Police Force. At the Burrangong Meat Processors abattoir near Young, in 1990 recordings from surveillance cameras, which had been installed by workers, depicted pigs not being bled out properly and rendered unconscious, pigs being lowered into scalding tanks while still conscious, and pigs being beaten. This treatment of the animals, which was exposed by the surveillance cameras, led to a major investigation by police and to charges being laid against the abattoir. It also led to a $1.2 million investment in the facility to ensure that the pigs were rendered dead before being lowered into a scalding tank.

    Last year an abattoir in the Hawkesbury Valley, not far from Sydney, was exposed for cruelty to animals during ritual halal and kosher slaughter. This caused an investigation by the NSW Food Authority, the police and the RSPCA and led to an overwhelming improvement in the welfare, wellbeing and treatment of animals. It also led to a very important undertaking by senior rabbis of the Jewish community to address factors surrounding kosher slaughter and the welfare of animals killed in that manner. Cameras that were installed in Inghams turkey abattoir near Tahmoor also revealed extremely brutal treatment of animals, which led to police investigations and prosecutions under the Crimes Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which led to major changes at this abattoir. The purpose of this bill is to introduce mandatory surveillance cameras at critical points in either an abattoir or an intensive livestock facility to ensure animal welfare. Schedule 1 to the bill states:

    24Z         Operations to be recorded in abattoirs and intensive livestock keeping facilities

    (1)      The proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility must ensure a video and audio recording is made of all operations relating to the keeping, movement, handling and slaughter of animals at the abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility.

    (2)      The proprietor must ensure that the equipment used for the purpose of making a video recording under this section is, at all times, positioned to ensure an unobstructed view of the operations being recorded.

    (3)      The proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility must ensure that a recording made under this section is retained for a period of not less than 3 months after the date the recording is made.

    Under schedule 1 to the bill, new section 24ZA deals with inspectors under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which includes the police, the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League and officers with prescribed authority under the Food Act. In relation to those officers it states:

    (1)      An officer may, at any time within 3 months after the making of a recording under section 24Z, require the proprietor of an abattoir or intensive livestock keeping facility to provide the officer with access to the recording.

    (2)      A person must not fail to comply with a requirement of an officer under subsection (1).

    Maximum penalty: 25 penalty units.

    (3)      The officer may do one or more of the following:

    (a)  examine, inspect or listen to the recording,

    (b)  make a copy of the recording,

    (c)  examine the equipment with which the recording was made.

    It is important that the bill provides an exemption from the oversight of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 which will not prohibit the installation, use and maintenance of a listening device within the meaning of the Act for the purpose of making a recording required under this section. This bill is important because it also goes to some very significant findings in law in relation to the responsibility of people who have animals under their care, control and supervision. When cattle were found dead or dying from starvation on a property it was successfully argued in the Magistrates Court that there was not a strict liability upon the owner of those animals because there was no mens rea—the owner did not know that the animals were suffering. This case was appealed in the Supreme Court before Justice Dowd and an unreported judgement in Bell v. Gunter was handed down. It was argued that the owner of the animals, the person who had the care, control and supervision of the animals, was unaware that those cattle were in that state and dying from starvation.

    The RSPCA won the appeal, which set a very important precedent which goes to some of the underlying principles in this amendment bill. Justice Dowd found that there is strict liability and that once a company or a person in charge of animals places those animals in an enclosure, on an intensive farm, in a restricted area with a fence or other confinement around them where they can be rounded up and put in an abattoir or wherever—and they are not wild animals or where they cannot freely access food and water—then the onus of responsibility sits fairly and squarely on that company or person. There is no excuse for them not to know. The fact that someone has decided to purchase 100 steers, 1,000 pigs or 5,000 hens and then put them into a cage, a confinement or a shed at any given time means that the onus of responsibility is totally on that person to ensure they know where the animals are, what is happening to them, their situation and the elements and factors around them that could cause them harm.

    This bill is really about sending a message and helping owners, managers and people who have responsibility for animals that they have a positive duty to ensure that they know where those animals are and that there are systems in operation that will prevent suffering, in the best and most reasonable way. This bill states that a watering system and sprinkler system need to be in place. If watering systems are placed along the floors of sheds for pigs, chickens or cattle to drink from then it is also possible to have a sprinkler system that is triggered in case of fire to prevent animals from burning to death or being injured, which no reasonable person wants to happen to any animal.

    This bill addresses the positive duty of farmers, owners and managers of animals to ensure their wellbeing and welfare under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by preventing them from being burnt to death. That can be done by having functional alarm systems in place that many people can respond to. For instance, a ventilation system at Grong Grong piggery broke down and many animals died from heat exhaustion and suffocation, which is a terrible way to die. If a CCTV camera system is put in place it will work towards the principle of ensuring that animals are treated humanely. When the call comes from an abattoir to say that 400 pigs have to be on the truck by 2 o’clock and they have to speed up the line having mandatory CCTV cameras in place will ensure that workers’ interactions with animals remain lawful and that they act with the best possible regard for animals. It will also help to ensure that workers at the operation are being looked after.

    Those factors relate to the cases in which Justice Dowd found there is clearly a positive duty upon the owners and managers of an abattoir or intensive livestock facility, or a free-range facility for that matter. Justice Dowd found that the responsibility lies fairly and squarely on their shoulders. As I said, this bill goes to the very foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act because it is about the prevention of cruelty to animals. It will strengthen the foundation of the Act, which is about ensuring the welfare of animals and putting in place the best possible practices so that animals that are totally reliant on our activities, responsibilities and duties are offered the best possible protection from harm, injury and vice. I commend the bill to the House.

    Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and set down as an order of the day for a future day.

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