• NOTICE OF NOTION – THAT THE LIVE ANIMAL EXPORT INDUSTRY SHOULD BE CONDEMNED FOR SYSTEMIC CRUELTY

    17th May 2018

    Notice of motion.

    Live animal export industry.

    Motion objected to and debated by the Government. Read the full debate.

    (1) That this House condemns the live animal export industry, which has a 40-year history of systemic animal cruelty causing suffering and death.

    (2) That this House notes that the recent Animals Australia exposé of the extreme suffering of sheep confined on the Awassi Express by Emanuel Exports highlights the ongoing national scandal of animal cruelty by the live export industry being:

    (a) animals starving to death from inanition;

    (b) animals dying from overcrowding, which caused the inability to access food and water;

    (c) animals dying of heat stress from high temperatures due to climatic extremes;

    (d) animals forced to stand in their own excrement for periods of up to a month, causing respiratory distress and blindness from ammonia fumes; and

    (e) multiple and persistent breaches of Australian animal welfare laws.

    (3) That this House congratulates Faisal Ullah, the Awassi Express assistant navigator, for performing a brave and merciful act of public service by recording the scenes of misery and suffering of sheep aboard the sheep.

    (4) That this House calls upon the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair, to meet with the Federal Minister for Agriculture to convey this House’s deep disgust at the continued breaches of Australian animal cruelty laws, and to advocate for a ban on live animal exports.

    (5) That this House calls on the Government to prohibit the land transport of animals to New South Wales ports or other States for the purpose of boarding onto live export ships.

    MARK PEARSON:

    The live export industry cannot save itself from itself, and no government of any persuasion has ever been able to save the live export industry. We cannot accept those constant statements from Ministers for agriculture over the years. Even the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, refers to this as “one incident”. The reality is that there is a litany of incidents in live exports. The reality is that if Faisal Ullah had not documented what happened on this ship this would not have been an incident.

    In June 2016 there was footage of cruelty in Vietnam where cattle were being bludgeoned to death at the port of disembarkation. In January 2016 a ship was stranded outside of Fremantle, hardly out of Australian waters, and the welfare of 13,000 sheep and cattle was extremely compromised. In fact, 7,500 sheep and 5,500 cattle perished. In June 2015 there were allegations of cruelty to cattle at an Israeli abattoir. On 22 October 2014 there was footage of Australian sheep and cattle being slaughtered outside approved abattoirs in Kuwait, Gaza and Jordan, and Wellard had to cease the Jordan trade. The list goes on and on. From January to February 2014 4,000 sheep were reported to have died of heat stress on the Bader III. From November to December 2013 there were allegations of animal cruelty when footage was taken of bulls being abused prior to slaughter in Mauritius, and of brutal methods of cattle slaughter in Gaza. On 8 November 2013 the Federal Government abolished the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

    The mortality rates in live export are a clear measure of the savagery of the live export industry. On long haul voyages, an investigation is triggered only when mortality rates of 2 per cent for sheep and 1 per cent for cattle are reached. On a voyage involving 70,000 sheep, 1,400 animals must die before the cause of the deaths is investigated. In the past five years, 32 sheep voyages have had a mortality rate of more than 1 per cent when the industry average is 0.74 per cent, yet only three of them triggered an investigation.

    Let us look at this mortality rate—a mortality rate that is stipulated for an average journey of three weeks. Let us apply this mortality rate on a property carrying, say, 10,000 sheep and apply that to a per annum mortality rate. An acceptable mortality rate on ship over three weeks is 1.9 per cent. If that were on a property carrying 10,000 sheep, per annum that would equate to 33 per cent of the animals perishing. If the proposed acceptable rate for sheep becomes 1 per cent, which it is for cattle now, 0.9 per cent is equivalent to a 16 per cent mortality rate of sheep—1,600 sheep—dying on a property over one year. When we measure what mortality rates actually represent, we are seeing an animal welfare disaster—a routine event in the live export trade.

    Dr Roger Meischke was the first veterinarian appointed by the Federal Government to carry out an investigation on a live export ship in the early 1980s. He made it very clear that the mortality rate is clearly a measure of the suffering of those sheep that died, but with such high mortality rates it is also a measure of the impacts of welfare on all the animals that are trying to survive—they are suffering in a way which is not acceptable according to Australian laws that are about the prevention of cruelty to animals. Every time thousands of sheep are loaded onto a ship and sent out of Australian waters to the Middle East, that ship is carrying thousands of sheep which will gradually suffer cruelty, distress and death in a way that is totally unacceptable and would be prosecutable if it were to occur on Australian land and where Australian jurisdiction exists.

    Why do I ask the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Niall Blair, to address this issue with the Federal Minister? The Minister for Primary Industries serves on the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum [AGMIN]. Membership of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum comprises Australian State, Territory and New Zealand government Ministers with responsibility for primary industries. It is chaired by the Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. The role of AGMIN is to enable cross-jurisdictional cooperative and coordinated approaches to matters of national interest. AGMIN is the peak forum to collaborate on priority issues of national significance affecting Australia’s primary production sectors. Following recent actions from the Australian Government to improve the welfare of animals during live export—which is impossible—members discussed a future work program for animal welfare, including the process by which national standards are further developed. It is critical for the Minister for Primary Industries to have an effect on the plight of live animal exports.

    The Australian Veterinary Association [AVA] has just released a report on the recent incident of the deaths of so many sheep on the Awassi Express, which was exposed only a few weeks ago. It is the first time the Australian Veterinary Association has taken such a stand against live exports of sheep. It has released a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the role of heat stress and space allowance in contributing to poor welfare and mortality in the live sheep export trade. The report concludes that heat stress causing poor animal welfare and deaths is an inevitable consequence of sheep shipments to the Middle East during the northern summer. This is because the temperature and humidity encountered at that time overwhelms the ability of the animals to thermoregulate.

    The report also concludes that space allowances under the Federal legislation governing the exports are inadequate. The report makes several recommendations, including that the northern summer shipments of sheep to the Middle East be stopped, and that space allocations for those shipments at other times of the year be increased by 30 per cent. The Federal Minister cannot misunderstand this recommendation by believing that it is in relation to heat stress; it is not. The Australian Veterinary Association has said it is not acceptable for sheep to be able only to stand and never to rest or lie down, and that is the main reason that there needs to be an increase of 30 per cent.

    Even though the Animal Justice Party and many of my constituents would prefer that we do not turn our mind to the issue of animals that are exported live instead being slaughtered in Australia, the reality is that the slaughter of animals for food production in Australia is lawful. Australia has welfare requirements in abattoirs which, if strictly adhered to, dramatically improve the welfare of the animals that are going to be slaughtered. It is not acceptable for us to send animals that have been reared on farms in Australia—animals which farmers say they love and care about—up a gangplank onto a ship on a 2½ to 3½ week journey from Australian waters into waters over which we have no jurisdiction and into countries where Australia has no jurisdiction over animal welfare. Many of the importing countries have no animal welfare laws. It is unconscionable for the people in charge of these animals to participate in any part of live export because when we do that we are contributing to the animals undergoing immense suffering and distress.

    Imagine a sheep in Lightning Ridge being put onto a truck, transported thousands of kilometres to Port Adelaide and sent up a gangplank onto a ship which sails to Fremantle. The sheep stays onboard for two or three days while other sheep and cattle are being loaded at Fremantle, and it then travels across the seas for to 2½ to 3½ weeks to the Middle East. There it is trucked from, say, Aqaba to Jordan, the Gaza Strip, Kuwait or other Middle Eastern countries. It is then transported by land across these territories to various abattoirs. The sheep endures all this just to be killed. It is utterly absurd.

    The economics of sheep live export is of interest. Fewer than two million sheep are sent for live export each year, mostly to the Middle East. Of these about 1.64 million, or 82 per cent, leave from Western Australia. Twenty-eight per cent of the Western Australian turn-offs go to live export. The bulk of the rest of the Western Australia turn-off, 72 per cent, goes for export as sheepmeat. Because of that, the major impact of any change in the live export of sheep from Australia will only be in Western Australia. Australia is not the largest exporter of live sheep to the Middle East. It has significant competition from Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti.

    The total value of the live sheep export market is about $250 million, while the value of the sheepmeat exports—lamb and mutton—is about $2.65 billion. Thus the live export of sheep accounts for less than 10 per cent of the value of sheepmeat exports and about 6 per cent of the value of all sheep and lamb exports. About 411 kilotons of sheepmeat is exported each year and, of that, about 20 per cent goes to the Middle East, mostly by airfreight as chilled meat.

    Several important conclusions can be drawn from this. First, the significant export of chilled sheepmeat to Middle Eastern countries indicates that there is no shortage of refrigeration in those countries. A 2014 survey by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics concluded that in the Middle East, substitutability between Australian live sheep and sheepmeat imports has increased in recent years, largely reflecting growth in incomes, urbanisation, refrigeration and the availability and popularity of Western‑style supermarkets. This is underscored by the experience of Bahrain, which stopped importing Australian sheep in 2014, after which sheepmeat imports from Australia increased twofold and also brought significant income to New South Wales.

    It is time for live export be relegated to the scrap heap of history, where it belongs. This industry has been in question and has had numerous investigations going back to the 1970s and 1980s by the Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare. Every Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare has concluded that the live export trade is untenable. It can never reach and maintain welfare standards that are acceptable under Australian laws. Therefore, it is unconscionable and unacceptable for us to put animals that we have reared and cared for in Australia up a gangplank, onto a ship and send them off into peril. The live export industry must be relegated to the scrap heap of history once and for all.

  • NO PLACE FOR CELEBRATING ANIMAL CRUELTY IN MARDI GRAS

    2nd March 2017

    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.

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    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 fetid 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.

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  • WOOL INDUSTRY DEBATE

    10th March 2016

    WOOL GROWING INDUSTRY AND MULESING

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [12.48 p.m.]: I move:

    (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 flystrike, 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.

    [The Deputy-President (The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones) left the chair at 1.00 p.m. The House resumed at 2.30 p.m.]


    WOOL GROWING INDUSTRY AND MULESING

    Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON [3.32 p.m.], by leave: I move:

    That the motion be amended by omitting paragraph (2) and inserting instead:

    (2)      That this House encourages all woolgrowers to breed sheep to be resistant to flystrike and, in the interim, they should provide pain relief to sheep when mulesing.

    Research in Australia has put us in a position of world leadership on the use of pain relief and analgesia for farm animals. This has been an issue throughout the world because previously young farm animals have been perceived not to feel pain as much as other animals. This has come about because most farm animals are prey animals and, therefore, they experience pain in very different ways to predatory animals such as dogs, cats or hawks. Some outstanding work has been done in Australia looking at analgesia in relation to mulesing and other mutilations. The studies have been quite visionary and have helped bring the world forward in understanding pain in farm animals.

    The studies have examined mulesing procedures on sheep with and without pain management and have looked at nostril flaring, pupil dilation, movement of the eyelids and movement of the abdomen. Sheep do not writhe in pain or cry out, so researchers had to look at other symptomatology which showed whether the animals were in pain and the degree of pain. The study clearly showed that farm animals, lambs and calves, probably experience as much pain as predatory animals, which express pain by screaming, crying or writhing. Prey animals have evolved not to show pain or distress in order to avoid the wolf that may be watching to take out weak, sick or injured animals. They have evolved to cover their pain and distress so that they appear not to be in that state. But that does not mean that they do not suffer as much as other animals.

    Another aspect of this study is leading the way in pain management. Young animals—under six months or 12 months—under current legislation across Australia are exempted from being given pain relief. It has now become clear, through veterinary scientific and technical knowledge, that just because an animal is young and is less likely to demonstrate the symptomatology of pain does not mean it is not experiencing pain. Paediatrician Dr Meredith Schiel developed Tri-Solfen, a topical analgesia which contains three different types of analgesia: fast acting, medium acting and slow acting. In her work as a paediatrician she was alarmed to discover that not long ago the view was held that human children, because they were so young, did not feel pain and distress. This has been very clearly proven not to be the case. In fact, this belief is a serious embarrassment to the medical fraternity.

    Progress is such that the cattle industry, rather than waiting to be stung or experience an international crisis such as that experienced by the wool industry, is now proactively adopting analgesia and pain relief for surgical procedures, such as castration, tail docking and branding in cattle. It has put proposals before the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority [APVMA] to adopt analgesia for those procedures. As well, the European Union has looked at what is happening in Australia and has sought to adopt the measures in drug regulations so that analgesia is used when piglets are castrated or having their teeth clipped.

    Australia has shown world leadership over the past eight years in relation to progress on farm animals’ pain, young farm animals’ pain and the application of analgesia. I commend this motion to the House, which notes the progressive work by the farming community, the researchers who have developed the analgesia and the industry that will take this work forward. I also commend this motion to the House as it encourages all wool growers to adopt humane and progressive ways of treating farm animals.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) [3.40 p.m.]: On behalf of the Government I contribute to debate on the motion relating to the wool growing industry which was moved by the Hon. Mark Pearson. This motion has been on the Notice Paper for some time because it contained elements that the Government did not support. The Hon. Mark Pearson has now moved an amendment to his original motion. I doubt the debate will conclude today but will be adjourned to next week. In the intervening period I will look closely at the amended motion but for now will reserve my right as to whether the Government supports it. I do say that the motion appears to be heading in the right direction.

    The Government supports much of the motion before the House. Over many years members on both sides of the Chamber have been involved in debate on farm animal treatment. I acknowledge the contribution of the Hon. Mark Pearson and I am sure members from both sides will want to contribute to the debate. The motion recognises the progress of the industry in the treatment of farm animals. That is worth celebrating. However, I indicate that the Government had issues with the underlying intent of the member’s original motion. The prevention of flystrike is a key priority for the Australian sheep industry. Flystrike is a horrific disease, as anyone who has worked with sheep will tell you. The sight of maggots eating away at the flesh of a live animal is not something that can be forgotten. When the Hon. Mick Veitch makes his contribution to this debate, I am sure that he, as a former shearer, will touch on this point.

    The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: We hope in not too graphic detail.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I acknowledge the interjection of the Government Whip. It is important to talk about the graphic details. It is not just the sight but also the smell that sticks in one’s memory. That is an issue that needs to be raised. As well as the obvious commercial benefits gained from the prevention of flystrike in sheep, the industry has been proactive in working towards the ultimate goal of flock flystrike resistance. The Government supports our sheep and wool industries. The Government does not support the mandating of sheep industry standards in New South Wales because it is not necessary. The industry is already doing a good job in setting sheep standards and wool growers continue to make improvements, particularly in areas such as flystrike.

    As the Hon. Mark Pearson’s motion states, 80 per cent of producers already use pain relief or are breeding sheep to be resistant to flystrike. I see that as the glass being 80 per cent full, not 20 per cent empty, and that is due to the work of the industry and those within government who have advocated for this industry. Members will recall the efforts of the Hon. Duncan Gay, as the shadow Minister for Industry, and his support of Australian Wool Innovation [AWI] and the industry in their move towards better methods of flystrike control. One of the many reasons the Hon. Duncan Gay has been a champion in this space is that he saw the advantages for the industry as a whole. As a sheep farmer, he knows firsthand the horrors of flystrike and the need for improvements. I also look forward to the Hon. Bronnie Taylor contributing to this debate as she comes from a renowned sheep-breeding and wool-producing property in the Monaro.

    The industry has made and continues to make improvements. Therefore, it is not necessary for the Government to mandate the wool industry in New South Wales. The Australian wool industry is on the front foot in tackling the issues and has made world-leading progress in the management of flystrike. The Hon. Mark Pearson, in his contribution, said that the Government should mandate standards because of the possibility of the mixing of wools in offshore processing. The Government disagrees because it considers that the industry is heading in the right direction.

    The industry has made great advances in non-invasive management and improved welfare practices. For example, with regards to pain relief, already 77 per cent of lambs being mulesed each year are treated with pain relief. This massive on-farm change, which has occurred in less than a decade, has been led entirely by industry members. I commend them for this change. It did not occur as a result of the Government taking a big stick approach and mandating; it occurred as a result of leadership within the industry—as has been acknowledged in the amended motion. Further, producers in New South Wales have introduced other husbandry practices to improve flystrike management, such as double crutching, lambing times, pasture management and strategic use of chemicals.

    The producer-funded marketing organisation Australian Wool Innovation invests in research and development to increase the profitability and sustainability of all production in Australia. The industry has undertaken genetic research and development to breed sheep with flystrike resistance. There is no doubt that this is the long-term goal that everyone is striving towards. Some of the most recent developments for sheep producers include tools to score sheep breech traits. Sheep most susceptible to flystrike have a higher degree of skin wrinkle and wool coverage in the breech region. Sheep producers can now use a nationally consistent set of breech trait scoring charts to increase the resistance in their flock by selecting sheep with greater natural resistance to flystrike. Breeders can also use a national set of merino sheep breeding values for breech wrinkle traits to identify sires with enhanced natural resistance.

    The industry is confident that these breeding tools will accelerate the entire industry’s progress towards a more naturally flystrike-resistant flock. By the use of research and development in genetics, the industry has identified about 50 per cent of the causes of flystrike and has determined the genetic correlations and heritability of them all. Practical tools have been developed to reduce susceptibility to flystrike, such as the development of the Australian Sheep Breeding Values which growers are now using basically to fast-track natural breeding programs. The entire blowfly genome has been mapped and is now being used to develop new target chemicals for treatment and prevention. Commercially the industry has introduced the National Wool Declaration to allow choice in the marketplace for buyers and processors. Latest figures show that 49.5 per cent of the total wool clip is now classified under the declaration, and that is in all categories.

    The industry, through AWI, the woolmark company, works the entire supply chain, including the retail sector. In recent years the industry has witnessed a significant upswing in interest in wool, with increased usage and demand for wool in key apparel markets. Wool continues to be on trend and recognised as a fabulous natural fibre. The industry is on the front foot in combating this issue. This is another opportunity to say to the people responsible for animal husbandry practices and the management and welfare of their flocks that we appreciate what they are doing and the money that is being invested by industry and the producers in research in order to achieve better outcomes. The industry is willing to work within the different levels of the supply chain to achieve better outcomes for wool producers in this country.

    The Hon. Mark Pearson has another motion on the Notice Paper in relation to mulesing. It goes further and congratulates a wider range of people within the industry. As I have stated, the work of Dr Meredith Sheil and the Australian Wool Growers Association to develop products for pain relief is to be applauded. The work that the industry has done also should be applauded and is worth recognition by the House. In consultation with the Hon. Mark Pearson, I will look at the amendment and when the debate is called on again next week the Government will state whether it will support the motion. I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for bringing this matter before the House and allowing us to note the achievements of this industry.

    Although we come to this debate from different sides of the argument as a result of our different experiences, we all want similar outcomes. We are in agreement that we want to make sure that Australia continues to ride on the sheep’s back into the future and is able to service the demand for wool products. Our farmers must be supported and celebrated. They should be at the centre of all conversations around animal husbandry practices and the operation of their businesses. We may differ on how to achieve good animal welfare outcomes but the intent is the same. I applaud elements of this motion. The industry is looking at how to achieve better outcomes while maintaining a viable industry which is a large employer in regional New South Wales. We must hold true to the values of the family farm and our primary industries. I again thank the member for bringing this matter before the House and look forward to listening to the contributions of other members to the debate.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH [3.54 p.m.]: I lead for the Opposition in debate on this motion moved by the Hon. Mark Pearson. I congratulate the member on bringing this matter before the House. It is a matter that should be debated by the House. I have not had many opportunities to talk in the Chamber about my history in this area. I grew up on a farm and during the school holidays my father would take me to the shearing sheds. It was a great place to spend time and to listen to the yarns of the shearers. Some of them were capable of spinning a good yarn.

    The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Unlike yourself.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH: Unlike myself. I learnt a lot about looking after sheep in those shearing sheds and I learnt from the graziers about their practices in looking after the sheep on their properties. Some school holidays I spent on the back of a horse going from paddock to paddock. I grew up on a farm called “Coorumbene”, which was on the Yaven Creek in the beautiful Ellerslie Valley. Dad worked for Michael Roche and John Reynolds. We would regularly muster the sheep into a corner of the paddock and then let them run past one at a time as we looked for indications of flystrike. That was done regularly in order to pick up flystrike in the early stages so that we did not have the ugly scenes of heavily struck sheep.

    The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: You spent your school holidays looking at sheep bums.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH: Interestingly, they strike in more areas than the breech region. Quite often it is around the flank and neck. It is a common mistake for people to focus on the breech region. They will strike in other regions. Flystrike is horrific regardless of where the sheep are struck. As a shearer I had the misfortune of seeing a lot of sheep in agony. We would have to shear the wool away to get to the wound. In some cases we were too late and we would shear the dead sheep. I can think of many bad ways for an animal to die but to see a sheep die from flystrike never, ever leaves you. It is a horrendous way for an animal to die. The Minister spoke about the sights and smells that stay with you. As a former shearer I can remember the smells of the shearing sheds. A lot of things bring back memories of the shearing shed.

    The Hon. Niall Blair: Smoko more than anything.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH: I used to love the smoko, the billy tea and the cold dog’s eye. The one thing that I particularly remember about flystruck sheep is the smell. When the shearers, roustabouts or shed hands were shearing a flock of sheep that were heavily flystruck they would be covered in maggots. The maggots would be up your arms and inside your clothes and you would smell. The facilities to clean yourself or to have a smoko or lunch were limited—shearers generally ate in the shed. Those memories do not leave you. It is a very hard way to make a living but that made it even harder. To make a living by picking up the boggi and putting on the dungas is admirable and I acknowledge the hard work of those individuals. It is probably one of the hardest ways to earn a crust in Australia.

    The Hon. Niall Blair: Although working for me is pretty hard.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH: What was that, Minister? Did you say working for you is harder? What I will say though is the processes that we have to put in place to stop that are really important. I understand that people have issues around mulesing and it too is quite an aggressive way of preventing flystrike. This resolution is talking about the industry’s progression away from mulesing. If we can move away from mulesing, then that will be a good thing. I know every shearer in this country would relish the day when they do not have to shear flystruck sheep. That would be a good thing. For the producer, the wool of flystruck sheep is lost income and a lost asset.

    Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted to permit a motion to adjourn the House if desired.

    Item of business set down as an order of the day for a future day.

    Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted at 2.30 p.m. for questions.

  • SYSTEMIC LIVE EXPORT CRUELTY

    8th January 2016

    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

  • NON MANDATORY ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS FOR NSW

    27th May 2015

    Questions 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. Duncan Gay: Point of order: The question contains argument.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I will allow the Hon. Mark Pearson to finish his question. Undoubtedly, the point of order is correct. But if the member concludes his question and the Minister answers the part that is in order, I will allow that on this occasion. The Hon. Mark Pearson will need to be careful not to include argument in his questions in future.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is complete: Is the Government aware that there is this memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers in relation to non-mandatory standards for animal welfare in New South Wales?

    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.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! First, for the general guidance of all members, Standing Order 64 is quite specific about questions put to Ministers. Other members may have questions asked of them relating to any matter connected with the business on the Notice Paper of which that member has charge. Otherwise it is not in order for members to ask other members questions. Secondly, questions should seek information as opposed to opinion. Question time is for seeking information. Finally, questions must relate to matters within the Minister’s responsibility or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible. Questions may be put to Ministers relating to public affairs for which the Minister is officially connected.

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