• No place for celebrating animal cruelty in Mardi Gras

    As a young man still in his teens, I joined with friends from Newcastle and became one of the group of 78ers that participated in the first Mardi Gras. It was a distressing but also a celebratory experience. I remember looking at the police as they were arresting people and putting them into paddy wagons. To one officer I said, “I think one day the police will actually march with us in this parade.” He said, “You might be bloody right, son, but you better get out of here or you will end up in that paddy wagon.” I was lucky to escape a beating and my prediction about the police was quite prescient given the oppression gays and lesbians experienced from those in authority at that time. Now, of course, it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when the police march at Mardi Gras. It is heartening to witness such positive changes over the decades.

    For me, Mardi Gras has always been a joyful celebration of queer sexuality as well as the life-affirming message that we live and love in equal dignity and worth to everyone else in the community.

    This year’s Mardi Gras theme of ‘equality’ makes sense to me. With equal marriage continuing to be a political football and the suicide rates for LGBTQI teenagers still too high, equality remains an elusive goal. While it is wonderful that a wide range of community, corporate and government agencies sponsor floats, we should be careful of the messages that are promoted using our hard-won credibility and acceptance.

    As the sole representative of the Animal Justice Party in NSW Parliament, I am deeply concerned with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) being a sponsor of Mardi Gras, either of the parade, Fair Day or any other Mardi Gras event. MLA is the company behind the popular Australia Day lamb ads which aim to distract the public from thinking about the darker side of the trade. MLA is the representative body of Australia’s live export industry, arguably the cruellest animal exploitation industry permitted to exist today. Our call for equality should not be linked with the needless suffering of millions of animals. The vast majority of Australians would agree, with over 70% of Australians oppose to live export.

    live-export-cattle-australia-1

    Before I was elected to NSW Parliament I spent many years at Animal Liberation NSW, running campaigns against live export. Every aspect of this industry shows a cruel disregard for animal well-being. Animals suffer long hours transported in trucks, without food or water, often in the searing heat. They are then jammed by the thousands into live export ships where animals stand in their own excrement, often for weeks on end. The air is foetid with ammonia fumes burning the eyes and the lungs. Not all animals survive the journey and sadly, they are the lucky ones. We have all seen the horror footage of sheep packed into the boots of cars, trussed up on the back of utes or penned in the blazing heat without food or water, waiting for the slaughterman’s knife.

    live-export-sheep-australia-1

    LGBTQI equality should not be obtained through partnerships with organisations or industries that operate without a social licence. Horrific animal cruelty and abuse has been exposed in the Australian live export industry for decades, and yet the industry continues to operate with impunity and for the most part without reform. I do not want my beloved Mardi Gras to give credibility to a company that trades in animal cruelty. The MLA’s ‘lamb dance’ Mardi Gras entry makes a mockery of the suffering and death of millions of sheep on transport ships and in the bloody slaughterhouses.

    The MLA is cynically exploiting the feelgood vibe of Mardi Gras to gain community support by associating with the LGBTQI community’s brand. This will serve only to legitimise their cause and delegitimise our own. There should be no place for celebrating animal cruelty in Mardi Gras.

    mark-digital-signature-1

  • 10/03/2016: Wool industry debate

    Motion by the Hon. MARK PEARSON agreed to:

    (1) That this House commends the 80 per cent of Australian wool growers who are:

    (a) breeding sheep to be resistant to flystrike by breeding out skin wrinkles; or

    (b) using pain relief when mulesing sheep.

    (2) That this House calls on the remaining 20 per cent of wool growers to begin breeding sheep to be resistant to fly-strike, and in the interim, providing pain relief to sheep when mulesing.

    (3) That this House congratulates Dr Meredith Schiel and the Australian Wool Growers Association for developing and promoting Tri-Solfen, an economical local anaesthetic and antiseptic gel spray for use on lambs to provide pain relief following mulesing, which also reduces blood loss and infection to improve wound healing.

    (4) That this House commends Laurence Modiano, a leading European wool-buyer and distributor for facilitating the uptake in the textile industry’s demand for non-mulesed wool and for encouraging the Australian wool industry to move towards pain relief.

    (5) That this House congratulates world renown fashion designer Count Zegna for, in the past two years, awarding his prestigious Wool Trophy for the best superfine Merino fleece to wool growers who have bred out the wrinkles in their sheep and adopted other management practices and therefore ceased mulesing their sheep.


     

    Many years ago the economy of Australia was built on the back of the merino sheep through the development of the wool industry. It grew and became the fundamental platform of the first major economy for Australia. The industry, which has an important and interesting history, is now alive and robust but it also has the attention of the world. This motion calls upon the House to commend various activities conducted by people in the wool industry and various growers. The motion is about a win-win-win situation. The view of the Animal Justice Party is that it is a win for the almost 23 million lambs that are born every year in Australia. Many of the lambs undergo a surgical procedure called mulesing, which is the removal of skin and subcutaneous tissue around the vulva, tail and breech area of the animal.

    Twelve years ago I filmed this procedure and I sent the footage to organisations around the world so that the true story behind the production of wool in Australia could be observed. It was not exaggerated or highlighted. The document showed a procedure that is common in Australia. Over the past 25 years the Federal Government has appointed standing committees on animal welfare which have reviewed this procedure. Those reviews have resulted in the industry, through the research of the Australian Wool Innovation, addressing the mutilating procedure that is performed on animals without any analgesia or pain relief. As a result, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in Australia was required to include a provision to exempt sheep and lambs from this particular procedure where a prosecution would otherwise have been brought for unnecessary, unjustifiable and unreasonable cruelty to an animal. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

    The second win would come from this House commending the work of proactive and progressive growers, people in the industry and retailers who want to introduce a change in the industry. The world is now looking at what we do in our backyard. Buyers such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Zegna, Armani and Hugo Boss are looking at what we are doing with our animals when producing various products such as wool. There was an international crisis when consumers and retailers of Australian wool became alarmed and concerned about what they saw. I will give an example. I was in London attending a meeting between the Australian Wool Growers Association and a senior executive of Armani. The conversation was critical. The Australian Wool Growers Association representatives were trying to convince a senior executive of Armani—a major importer of Australian wool—that mulesing is necessary for the wellbeing and welfare of the animal. That is the complexity of this issue.

    It is not like the argument about battery cages for hens where the cage is an instrument of cruelty. The procedure of mulesing is about preventing flystrike, which results in the lingering and painful death of an animal. However, the procedure is invasive and it is a mutilation. Veterinarians and wool buyers are highly critical of the procedure when it is performed without pain relief. The Australian Wool Growers Association representatives were trying to explain this point to a senior executive of Armani when he said, “Stop. I am a wool buyer. I have customers. Beautiful soft merino wool for my beautiful suits—bleeding horrible wound. Stop it. Fix it or I go to Spain or South America.”

    The message was clear. Our problem is flystrike. Armani’s customers do not want blood on the Armani label. The argument has moved to a new chapter. We have to fix the problems associated with the necessity for mulesing. It will continue to occur, but if changes are made by growers to breed out wrinkles so that after 18 months or two years the animals no longer require mulesing to avoid flystrike, then that will be more acceptable to buyers around the world. The motion calls on this House to commend the work that will result in a win-win-win situation: a win for the animals; a win for the wool growers who are progressive and visionary and, therefore, taking the industry forward in the world; and a win for Australia’s economy and world image. We will not be condemned or attract criticism that creates a crisis for the industry because we have not caught up with world’s best practice and acknowledged that animals must be protected.

    This motion is not about condemning the industry; it is about moving the industry forward. A recent petition signed by 38 wool buyers from around the world—from China, Europe and America—showed that wool buyers fear that wool from lambs that have been mulesed without pain relief will be mixed with wool from lambs that have been mulesed with pain relief when it is being washed, spun or knitted in China or other countries. This will cause serious blight and risk and liability to the wool industry in Australia if we do not give an absolute guarantee to wool buyers that we will make pain relief mandatory. That guarantee is important to wool buyers, particularly Count Zegna, whose company is at the upper aspect of the wool-buying industry. When Count Zegna was in Australia a couple of years ago he said that a trophy would be given to a wool grower not only on the quality of their wool but also on the basis that the wool grower was using pain relief or had stopped mulesing.

  • 08/01/2016: Barnaby Joyce under fire from first elected politician in Australia regarding MV Ocean Outback live export debacle

    The vast majority of people in Australia (83%) and now the citizens of an importing country, Israel, have made it very clear that they completely oppose live exports and imports based on the inevitable egregious cruelty and suffering that will occur. Yet Barnaby Joyce, the minister responsible for propping and ramping up this disgusting trade, demonstrates utter contempt for Australian citizens and ignores the ongoing international condemnation of this trade.

    It is time the government listened to the people of Australia who elected them and relegate this brutal, unacceptable trade to the scrap heap of history, and, along with it, export Barnaby Joyce to a place where he can have no say or influence on how animals are treated.

    See my official MEDIA RELEASE

    live-export-cattle-australia-3

  • 25/06/2015: Question On Notice, Farm Animal Mutilation Analgesia

    Mr Pearson to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water—

    1. Will the Minister introduce an amendment to section 24 a(iv) and (v) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act NSW 1979 whereby mulesing or other mutilations of sheep such as castrations and tail-docking will require administration of analgesia or pain-relief such as Tri-Solfen and other pre-procedure analgesia such as Carprophen?
    1. If so, when?
    2. If not, why not?

    Answer—

    1. The administration of topical anaesthetic for animal husbandry procedures within the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act NSW 1979 and associated regulations reflect the considerations of the national Australian Animal Welfare Sheep Standards and Guidelines Working Group and the regulatory impact statement relating to the standards. These considerations determined that pain relief is required for animals over 6 months of age.

    Question asked on 25 June 2015 (session 56-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 14.

    Answer received on 30 July 2015 and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 15.

  • 27/05/2015: Question Without Notice, Animal Welfare Standards

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Government aware that it supports, via a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Farmers Association, non-mandatory standards of animal welfare guidelines and standards, unlike any other Australian State or Territory?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. To avoid any misapprehension about where the standards are at, it is important that I go through some information in relation to animal welfare standards, the position in New South Wales and how that fits into the national context. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines are part of a project, under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, to convert the existing model codes of practice for the welfare of animals to standards and guidelines. An important element of the strategy is to advance animal welfare by the development of nationally consistent standards for regulation.

    Standards for pig welfare and land transport of livestock have already been mandated in all States. Standards for saleyards, abattoirs and exhibited animals are currently being developed. The sheep and cattle standards have been finalised and their regulatory impact statements approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The documents have been endorsed by the national Animal Welfare Task Group for submission through the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee to the Agriculture Ministers Forum for endorsement. In accordance with a memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers, the NSW Government intends to adopt the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep as prescribed guidelines under section 34A of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. This understanding applies only to the cattle and sheep standards and guidelines, and will mean that they will not be mandatory but can be used as evidence in proceedings under the Act or its regulations.

    The welfare of animals in New South Wales, including farm animals, is protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the prevention of cruelty to animals regulation. There are already mandated requirements for cattle and sheep which focus on unacceptable practices relating to cruelty; transport; failure to provide food, drink and shelter; certain painful procedures and the use of electrical devices. Public consultation submissions have been received on the exhibited animals standards and are currently being analysed. The regulatory impact statement is being redrafted following this consultation. The review of the poultry code and its conversion to standards and guidelines will commence this year.

    The review of the requirements for rodeos is near finalisation, and the review of the requirements for pounds and shelters is underway. I will be requesting that the revitalised Animal Welfare Advisory Council provide me with advice on the review program. I conclude by highlighting for the House that I have every confidence that staff in the Department of Primary Industries take the issue of animal welfare very seriously, as do I. I have every confidence that they and my office are up to speed with what is happening within the sector. Some industry groups are looking towards their own practices and codes. We have been liaising with other States and going through the memorandums, codes and regulations which I have just described. I assure the House that this Government does take seriously the issue of animal welfare, and it has the right people on the job. It will continue to do so every day and to put the welfare of animals at the forefront.

    Hansard link – HERE

Page 1 of 11