• GREYHOUND PROHIBITION BILL 2016

    10th August 2016

    Second read Speech.

    Greyhound Prohibition Bill 2016.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:05): The Animal Justice Party overwhelmingly supports the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016. Last year I was asked to assist with developing a strategy after unfortunate evidence was gathered over several months in relation to live baiting. The training of greyhounds routinely involves a great deal of live baiting. Many trainers would arrive at a training track with various species—rabbits, possums, cats and piglets. One particular scene has haunted me ever since. It was not a one-off incident; it is systemic, it is part of the industry, it is the norm and it is integral to the industry. In broad daylight a possum, which is a nocturnal animal, was strapped to a lure. A cloth was placed over its shoulders and it was strapped down firmly by its lower legs. The only part of its body it could move was its tail. Owners paid $50 to train their dogs using that live bait.

    The lure was set off, with engines roaring, screaming and vibrating. This nocturnal animal was sped around the track. When it was stopped, the dogs were allowed to tear and rip at it. It then came back around to the start. The possum was kicked around and hit to see whether it was conscious. If it was still alive it was sent around again with other dogs. A possum that came back conscious would emit a very high-pitched squeal—as do kittens, piglets and rabbits, believe it or not, when suffering and in enormous distress. The possum to which I refer went around the track 23 times, and it was still conscious. If the owner of the dog was satisfied with the live baiting episode and the possum was still alive he could have his $50 refunded because the animal could be used for the next dog. The possum would be left there to die a long, lingering death—the police described it as torture.

    Justice McHugh subpoenaed 10 trainers to give evidence to the inquiry. Nine of them said—they could have lied but they did not—that they used live baiting to various degrees, and one refused to answer the question but certainly did not deny it. Therein lies the savagery of the greyhound industry. It is not a minority of trainers; it is not a one-off incident. Nine out of 10 trainers admitted to live baiting and that means the industry cannot save itself from itself.

    No regulator can save it from itself. The Government has rightfully decided that no government can save the industry from itself. That is why the Animal Justice Party and I personally overwhelming support the Baird Government in taking this historic, principled and ethical decision.

    The greyhound industry has a long history both here and afar. It is a history built on animal cruelty that traces the “sport” from the traditions of the elite and royalty to the “battlers’ sport” that it is portrayed as today. Its long history is important as it coincides with the dynamic shift of social and community expectation regarding our relationships with animals. It is clear that the industry has formulated its own demise, no doubt carrying innocent casualties with it of both the human and non-human kind. The industry and its core participants have ignored society’s shift regarding animals and their treatment. The shift places high expectations of those seeking to profit from animals and transcends political persuasions and socio-economic backgrounds. To pigeonhole love for animals as elitist and snobbery is an insult to working class everyday people, many of whom will take in a rescued greyhound as owners seek to dispose of them in the coming months when they no longer bring in revenue.

    It has been a widely known secret that the greyhound industry has systemic animal welfare issues. It is critical to note that those issues are systemic, not rare or in the minority. Stories of live baiting, mass graves, greyhound muscle men and over breeding have been common for a very long time. There has been a great deal of evidence about greyhound muscle men, which I will explain. When a greyhound has an injury it is very rarely taken to a vet or has a vet called for it. Instead, a decision is made to immediately breach a section of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that says it is an offence to fail to provide veterinary treatment. A greyhound muscle man is called in. People who have been in the industry have given clear descriptions of what muscle men do. If a dog has gathered a serious injury while racing and cannot perform the muscle men will try various practices. One of them is to strap the front two legs of a dog to a high tree branch and then stretch the bottom two legs to try to rectify the injury. No analgesia or pain relief is given while the muscle men do the job. That practice is systemic in the industry.

    In my previous job I was privy to a large amount of evidence but not enough to bring about prosecutions at the level required. It was only in early 2015 that the evidence exposed in theFour Corners broadcast “Making A Killing” that I unfortunately witnessed as I assisted in obtaining that evidence for the program and the police. The exposé documented what has been spoken about a great deal today. The important thing is the program was the catalyst for the establishment of the commission of inquiry. It utilised covert video footage of the most appalling cruelty and suffering obtained by animal activists—those passionate everyday people exposing acts which the government, authorities and the industry could not or would not investigate and rectify. This is a testament to the everyday people who seek to right the wrongs of this world, which include those committed to voiceless animals beholden to our care that have suffered at the hands of callous people who knowingly committed illegal activity day in and day out.

    Thanks to the Government and the commission of inquiry led by Michael McHugh the public and the lawmakers of this State—and, indeed, across the globe—have had the truth revealed to them. I repeat that it is truth. The facts contained in the report by a conservative and esteemed former judge are not fictional or delusional. The bare facts as revealed by the McHugh report are that this industry has implicitly condoned as well as caused the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of healthy greyhounds, engaged in the barbaric practice of live baiting, and caused and will continue to cause injuries to greyhounds that range from minor to catastrophic. An enormous amount of catastrophic injuries will occur as a direct consequence of the genetic musculoskeletal structure of the animal as well as the race. Those things are fundamental to the industry and cannot be turned around. They are part of the industry and cannot be changed; however, they are unacceptable.

    The McHugh report also found that the industry has deceived the community concerning the extent of injuries and deaths caused during race meetings and it has failed to demonstrate that in the future it will be able to reduce the deaths of healthy greyhounds to levels the community could tolerate. I am sure many in the House will debate the finer points of the economics, jobs and the complexities that come with making such a tough but brave and just decision to shut down an industry. As a member of the Animal Justice Party I will discuss a few other aspects of this industry.

    The greyhound racing industry likes to claim that greyhounds are an ancient breed of racing dog going back to biblical days, with thousands of year of adaptation. Modern genetic testing shows differently. In fact, greyhounds are descended from herding dogs such as the St Bernard and the wolfhound, hardly known for their light frames or speed. The selection process is relatively recent, being only a few hundred years old. Breeding selection intensified with the commercialisation of the industry, placing considerable pressures on the greyhound’s musculoskeletal structure. Modern greyhounds have been bred for larger muscle mass, lower body fat and a higher overall muscle-to-bone ratio than other canine breeds. This intensive breeding selection has resulted in significant animal welfare issues for a large numbers of animals.

    Greyhounds have been shown to suffer from osteochondrosis dissecans, a genetic predisposition causing growth plate fracture in young dogs and hock joint fractures in adult dogs. Hock joint fractures are extremely common injuries experienced during racing. Injuries to the carpal and tarsal joints are also common in racing greyhounds, resulting in an increased risk of osteoarthritis and potential long-term lameness. Risk factors cited are heredity, rapid growth, anatomic conformation, trauma and dietary imbalances. Of these, heredity and conformation have been scientifically supported.

    The fact is and always will be that in order for the industry to exist greyhounds must be bred in excess to replace the dogs existing and to maintain race participation numbers. Greyhounds that do not participate in the greyhound racing industry have a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years. For the industry’s greyhounds, the life expectancy is often far shorter. Many are put down before the age of 4½ years. That is another systemic blight on the industry. Over the past 12 years approximately 97,783 greyhounds were whelped in New South Wales. The McHugh report found, after taking into consideration a multitude of factors, that up to 68,000 of those dogs had been slaughtered simply because they were either too slow or could no longer pay their way.

    We cannot tolerate an industry that kills that many dogs because they do not make the grade. What was their fate? Appalling brutality and suffering. If they were lucky it was a bullet to the skull and a mass grave; the unlucky ones got baseball bats to the skulls and put into a crab trap and thrown into a river. In the 2014 committee inquiry into the industry evidence was also given that unwanted dogs were drowned, gassed and hung in New South Wales by Australian trainers and breeders.

    From the age of 12 months the training process commences with a “breaking-in” process—sometimes referred to as “education”. Breaking-in involves an intensive form of training during which the animal first learns to chase a lure. In many cases the lure used is a live animal termed “bait”. This widespread and rampant practice has been a criminal offence since 1979. The animal used for bait is often a terrified rabbit, possum, piglet or kitten. It also harms the welfare of those so deeply involved in an industry that has at its fundamental core systemic brutality and cruelty to animals.

    On theFour Corners program we saw—and I saw the complete video—children as young as 10 shown to be unwilling witnesses to this appalling treatment of animals. Members will recall a child being held by the hand and made stand in front of a possum upon which three greyhounds were set. The possum was torn to pieces. This is obviously common practice; how can it be welfare for those people? This bill is not only about the animal issue—dogs, possums, rabbits, piglets, cats, et cetera—but it is also about bringing people into a better way of compassionate living and children not being exposed to brutalities upon animals.

    Since 2007, despite the best efforts of volunteer-run greyhound rescue and rehoming groups across the State, Greyhound Racing NSW has only rehomed 593 greyhounds through its Greyhounds As Pets program, at a cost of $200,000 per year. That is unacceptable. Justice McHugh put it simply when he said:

    The greyhound is simply a gambling instrument, no different from a card in a poker game or a handle on a poker machine.

    This bill is a historic document and one that will end a cruel industry in an ordered manner which I support. I commend Mike Baird for his leadership in reviewing the report and evidence, and making the difficult yet right decision to introduce the bill. I strongly commend the bill to the House.

  • MARRIAGE EQUALITY

    22nd June 2016

    Adjournment speech.

    Marriage equality.

    MARRIAGE EQUALITY

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (21:52): I speak in support of marriage equality. Yesterday Senator Penny Wong delivered the Lionel Murphy Memorial Lecture in Canberra. During her speech Senator Wong spoke about the abuse she receives as a gay woman and her fear of more abuse if the Federal Government’s planned plebiscite on same-sex marriage goes ahead. Earlier today I and my Animal Justice Party colleagues went on the public record in support of marriage equality. This position is completely in line with the Animal Justice Party’s ethos of compassion, inclusiveness and a better life for all.

    As an openly gay parliamentarian, I am all too well aware of the pain and suffering experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people that Senator Wong spoke about so eloquently yesterday. I came out in a Catholic high school over 40 years ago. I have always had the support of my family. My father said, “You do what you want in your life, son; as long as you do not cause harm to anyone.” And that instilled a confidence in me.

    Just as same-sex marriage is unlawful now; so was same-sex or homosexual intimacy and relationships four decades ago. In 1978 I joined friends from Newcastle and was one of the 78ers participating in the first Mardi Gras in Australia, which was a distressing but also celebratory experience. I was obviously quite young at 17. I was 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 departed and was free. Five years later, unfortunately two of my friends died from AIDS. Personally I am not that interested in the institution of marriage, but I believe that everyone should have the right to enjoy the institution if they so wish. If any two people seek to be married under any creed or institution, then that right must never be denied by any civilised society. This inclusive and respectful position would surely be natural to any compassionate and wise member of Parliament.

  • DEFENDING THE AUSTRALIAN BRUMBIES

    12th May 2016

    Adjournment Speech.

    Australian Brumbies.

    AUSTRALIAN BRUMBY

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:05): The brumby holds a special place in the Australian psyche, personifying Australian courage and the spirit of freedom. It holds a unique place in our history and has been immortalised in literature, film and songs. The brumby is depicted on the Australian $10 note, showing its wild posture, flaring nostrils and servitude to man. Today, just like the kangaroo, the brumby faces an uncertain future. The brumby is considered by some, including this Government, to be feral pests. Brumbies find themselves becoming increasingly marginalised on lands that have been their home for over a century. It is a home that was thrust upon them by early European settlers. With the onset of farm machinery, there was little need for the brumby and they were released into the wild to survive, or not.

    That spawned a time of survival of the toughest, where natural selection saw the evolution of wild horses with the traits required to thrive in the Australian environment. The brumby has gallantly served humans, toiling on farms as stock animals, used during the building of roads and railways, and serving as police horses for those enforcing the law of the bush. They accompanied men to war, with over 70,000 horses losing their lives in World War I alone. Horses from New South Wales were drafted into the Light Horse Regiment during both world wars, and were still being caught and removed from some areas for this purpose well into the 1940s.

    In October 2000, the slaughter of over 600 brumbies in the Guy Fawkes River National Park sparked widespread public outcry and national media attention. In response to this atrocity, an inquiry was conducted revealing numerous failings by the National Parks and Wildlife Service that led to the mass slaughter. In addition, the inquiry revealed, via DNA testing, that inbreeding amongst the Guy Fawkes brumbies is less than 5 per cent. As a result the Guy Fawkes brumbies achieved heritage status, the only such brumbies in Australia to do so. It seems we have not learnt from our past mistakes: killing is not the answer.

    All of the so-called “feral” animals were brought to Australia by human beings. The horse was brought to Australia not out of love; we needed a useful work animal. We exploited them and then when they were not needed we disposed of them like objects and sent them on their way into the bush—wanted yesterday, unwanted today. They survived and adapted like any other being on this planet does, despite our continued persecution. If this Government gets its way, we will decimate their existence to such a degree that their heritage and bloodlines will be threatened.

    I acknowledge that humane management is not a quick fix, one-size-fits-all, solution. It is our duty to ensure that we invest and utilise best practice and sound methods to estimate and report the true population. Where required, fertility control can be used. In parallel, investment in research and development of fertility control must occur. This method is used successfully with the wild horses of the Canadian Rockies and elephants in Africa. The use of fertility control means fewer brumbies born each year, resulting in a humane and sustainable management plan.

    Mass slaughter does not equal management. Until governments realise this, it is likely that the continuous cycle of killing and responsive population growth will continue. Passive trapping and rehoming programs aim to capture horses with minimal interference from humans and release them to suitable rehoming groups. Whilst strict adherence to best practice and horsemanship is critical to the success of such programs, this is another non-lethal strategy that both reduces numbers in the wild and maintains the cultural heritage and significance of the brumby. In closing, I challenge the persistent notion and labelling of “feral” animals. These animals are not feral; rather, they are wild, untamed survivors of humans’ past failings. I once asked an Indigenous elder, “So what do you think makes an animal a native Australian?” He replied, “When it is born here.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

Page 5 of 9« First...34567...Last »