• 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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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  • Broken Hill Animal Protection Forum

    UPDATE!

    As per our public agenda that we distributed in the original invitation, please see the following recorded Minutes and discussion points. For further information please contact Josh Agland – joshua.agland@parliament.nsw.gov.au

    1. Welcome and introductions;
      1. Mark, as an MLC represents the whole state of NSW. All NSW residents are urged to contact him with any issues.
      2. Success of animal politics, animal parties around the world.
      3. Attendees include representatives of Broken Hill Pet RescueRRANA (Rescue and Rehabilitation of Australian Native Animals) and local citizens.
      4. Greyhound Ban in NSW.
    2. Introduced Uncle Max. Uncle Max discussed the importance of Totem animals in Indigenous culture, the lores that protect Totem animals and his own personal experiences.
      1. Killing a Totem animal without seeking the permission of the Totem holder is akin to killing that person. A Totem animal is that persons skin.
    3. Updates on the Stock Theft and Trespass Review
    4. Wildlife
      1. Reports of hunters trespassing on private land, killing kangaroos illegally for yabby bait, Joeys kept in vehicles and dumped with wildlife carers.
      2. Now that water is flowing in Menindee, pelicans are being found with fishing line injuries, increases in native water rat drownings from yabby traps.
      3. Serious reports and evidence of landowners and NPWS using an insecticide as a animal poison. Lanatte-L is easily obtained in a concentrated form and is highly toxic. Reports of dog, fox, raptor and other meat eating animals dying from poisoning. Even Echidnas and insect eating birds dying from consuming contaminated ants. Local users call it ‘Magic’ as it kills everything. Various documents supplied to our office regarding this issue from local concerned citizen.
    5. Companion Animals
      1. Unanimous support for mandatory desexing. The problems with undesexed animals in rural areas is amplified due to resources and enforcement.
      2. TNR for free living cats in rural areas is not successful unless people provide easy and regular food to the cats. In populated towns TNR can work, however lack of volunteers/resources and education about free living cats is an issue.
      3. Mobile desexing services and programs, especially within indigenous communities is working, especially when indigenous people are part of the programs and can build community trust. More funding is required.
      4. State wide licensing system for all companion animals should be looked into, this has been implemented in other countries such as Sweden. Fines for non-compliance and enforcement needs to be robust enough to actually act as a deterrent for unlicensed animals, otherwise people may abandon an animal when fined and source a new cheaper animal (puppy factory). Our office to research similar programs for further discussion and consultation.
    6. Closing and thanks.
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    Mark Pearson, MLC, Animal Justice Party and Aboriginal Elder Uncle Max Dulu-mun-mun Harrison in Menindee

    Invitation to Broken Hill Animal Protection Forum

    In February 2016, the Baird Government announced the establishment of the Stock Theft and Trespass Review. This review held numerous public meetings in rural areas in which issues of trespass and both legal and illegal hunting were to be a main discussion point.

    My office receives numerous calls from distressed landholders, traumatised by illegal hunting trespass on their properties, it was for this reason that I was keen to attend a public meeting. I had already intended to visit Broken Hill, in order to address the information that had come to me regarding the disturbing rise in the serious egregious cruelty inflicted on animals in both illegal and legal hunting. I had also organised to meet key animal protection and rescue groups.

    Upon arrival, I was subject to hostility and defensive resistance from the Nationals member for the electorate, Kevin Humphries who insisted that I leave. I was frogmarched out of the meeting by Mr Humphries before I was even able to ask a question. I was not given the opportunity to raise my concerns regarding the brutality of hunting and its increased incidence on private property and how this terrifies land owners as well as terrifying, maiming and killing animals. It appears this National party member wants to obstruct any constructive discussion to address the growing violent culture of killing animals for sick enjoyment which in turn frightens property owners where these animals live or move through.

    I refuse to be shut out of addressing this appalling situation. As promised to the supportive local citizens I am organising a public meeting to address all the above issues as well as local pound reform. I invite any members of the public to attend the Broken Hill Animal Protection Forum to participate in a discussion on issues concerning animal cruelty, abuse and neglect in Broken Hill and surrounds. I have personally sent out invitations to Local MP Kevin Humphries, Broken Hill local Councillors, NSW Police Minister and Shadow Minister, NSW Local Government Minister and Shadow Minister, LAC for the region and Rural Crime Investigators for Broken Hill area, as well as all local police.

    A public agenda for the forum can be found HERE

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    Chair/Facilitator – Mark Pearson, MLC, Animal Justice Party

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    Special Guest – Aboriginal Elder Uncle Max Dulu-mun-mun Harrison, Uncle Max

    WHEN: Tuesday 6th September

    TIME: 7 PM – 9 PM

    WHERE: Broken Hill Community Centre – 200 Beryl St, Broken Hill

    RSVP by 2nd September 2016

    For further information and RSVP please contact: Angela Pollard on 02 9230 2445, angela.pollard@parliament.nsw.gov.au

  • 23/03/2016: Question without notice, illegal hunting

    The ridiculous decisions of the Baird government in relation to activists exposing animal cruelty and silencing their right to peaceful protest can only be described as dictatorial. Yet the government does nothing to stop the rogue Rambo wannabes illegally trespassing on land and indiscriminately killing animals and wildlife.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight representing the Hon. Troy Grant, Deputy Premier, and Minister for Justice and Police. Given the alarming media reports of confrontations between landholders and illegal hunters and the identification of illegal hunting trespass as being of concern to 58 per cent of farmers by Dr Elaine Barclay, Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of New England, will the Minister confirm that the Stock Theft and Trespass Review will investigate the rising incidence of illegal hunting trespass on rural lands?

    If so, is there a term of reference that specifically addresses the issue of illegal hunting trespass, and how is the review being promoted to the wider community?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It was probably a question better put to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industries, because the Department of Primary Industries Game Licensing Unit is hard at work targeting illegal hunters across the State. There is not an illegal hunter in the State that Niall’s army is not chasing at this moment. It is interesting to note that in this Parliament recently the Shooters and Fishers Party—soon to be the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, but they will not look after the farmers as well as The Nationals—indicated that they find illegal shooting on private property, namely farms, totally abhorrent. I do not think anyone in this place who would disagree with that.

    People in the gallery and members of the House have farms. One of the worst things you can find when working in rural industries is people operating illegally on your property. Even worse is to have people shooting illegally on your property—especially if they are shooting with rifles. Shotguns have a short trajectory but bullets from rifles can carry a couple of kilometres or more. Some years ago on my home farm a bullet lodged in the fibro on the edge of the shearers’ quarters. We had no idea where the bullet came from but it was a scary thing to happen.

    I am told that a robust regulatory system that allows legal, licensed hunters to access declared public lands acts as a deterrent to those who operate illegally and who are determined to flout the law. In fact, legal, licensed hunters are a regular and reliable source of information on illegal hunters. They hate them as much as we do, and they contribute to compliance and enforcement within their peer networks. The community also has an important role to play in detecting and deterring illegal hunting. It is now an easy matter for members of the public to report illegal hunting incidents.

    The game licensing unit has partnered with the NSW Police Force to shut the gate on illegal hunting as part of the larger shut the gate on rural crime campaign, as asked about in the member’s question. A dedicated illegal hunting report line 1800 SHUT IT is now available to report illegal hunting directly to game licensing compliance officers. Illegal hunting report forms, business cards and magnets have also been processed to assist members of the public to report illegal hunting activity and ensure the right information is collected. Investigations rely on the timely and accurate reporting of illegal hunting. Details that assist in investigations include the date, time and place; details about the alleged offender; vehicle type and registration; and the type of alleged illegal activity.

    The New South Wales Government is committed to detecting and deterring illegal hunting in this State. The community now has more information. What I have not answered in his question I will certainly take on notice and refer to the police Minister for a comprehensive response.

  • 28/01/2016: Animal Justice Party MP condemns illegal hunting and calls for more funding for Rural Crime Investigators

    Mark Pearson has previously warned that the number one concern for farmers is illegal hunting trespass, with research backing his claim. The terrible story today of dogs in the firing line is just another example of when the situation escalates to the point of a physical altercation between hunter and farmer.

    800-IMG_9805j-mark-Pearson-M-P“Since being elected to the NSW upper house last year, my office has received a steady stream of calls from distressed and angry landholders about illegal hunting on their properties.

    Callers describe the lawlessness of weekend warriors entering remote properties and shooting anything that moves. I have heard stories of bullets flying in all directions and the terrible suffering of animals with hunting dogs left for dead after sustaining injuries from wild pigs. One landowner was devastated to discover dozens of dead and dying native animals such as kangaroos, wombats and even echidnas after a night of blasting away by booze-fueled thugs.”

    It is time for the Minister for Police, Troy Grant, to provide additional resources to Rural Crime investigators so that they can stamp out this appalling illegal hunting before it takes a greater toll on human and animal life.

    See the full MEDIA RELEASE

  • 27/05/2015: Paws and Recover

    Motion by the Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS, on behalf of the Hon. MARK PEARSON, agreed to:

    (1) That this House acknowledges and congratulates Senior Constable Jaqui Largo, Kings Cross Police Service, on her outstanding work in establishing and running Paws and Recover, a not-for-profit organisation that assists homeless people living on the streets to care for their companion animals that are often their one and only friend.

    (2) That this House notes that:

    (a) Paws and Recover networks with police, ambulance, emergency and mental health services in cases where animals are abandoned or would be left behind after domestic violence intervention, emergency, accident, health and mental health problems; and

    (b) During the week of 18 May 2015 Paws and Recover was able to arrange an animal carer for a 90-year-old woman living alone with her companion dog so that she was able to be admitted to hospital for an operation to remove cancer.

    (3) That this House acknowledges and congratulates the more than 70 volunteers, including police officers, who assist with this compassionate and very necessary service which contributes to the wellbeing of vulnerable members of the community and their “best mates”.

    Hansard link – HERE

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