OPINION: WHO BENEFITS FROM SILENCING ANIMAL ACTIVISTS?

Recent media publications by The Land and The Guardian of meeting documents provides disturbing details of a forum held in August last year between agribusiness owners, NSW Farmers Federation, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair along with Police and the RSPCA. They reveal the extent to which industry and government are working together to silence activists seeking to expose animal cruelty in farming.

barnaby-joyce-australian-porkThe documents obtained under freedom of information laws confirm what many activists have argued for a long time; the interconnected links between animal agriculture, government and sadly, the RSPCA. The forum participants committed to an action plan to harmonise state laws regarding the supposed threat of “farm trespass” by animal activists. The plan reflects the fears of an industry that understands the implications of its routine practices being exposed to the public. Transparency and truth are to be avoided at all costs. We also see Federal and State governments intent on ensuring cruel practices remain hidden from view. Rather than listening to community concerns and accepting that animal welfare standards need to be radically reformed, government is determined to keep animal welfare legislation in the 1970s.

One of the more alarming revelations is the active participation of the RSPCA in such discussions. The RSPCA’s willingness to side with industry and government is an affront to their charter, and would no doubt come as a surprise their many supporters. The fact that the RSPCA participated in such discussions which made no mention of enforcement or prosecution of animal cruelty laws is concerning. One is entitled to ask, what is the role of the RSPCA in farm trespass policy discussions? Why are they not holding industry to account for their cruel practices? As has been said many times; if we kept a dog in the same conditions that industry keeps pigs in intensive farms, animal cruelty charges would be laid.

The document identified that;

38 piggeries in the Young area of NSW, along with poultry farms in other states, were known to have been “invaded for the purpose of installing unauthorised surveillance devices, ostensibly to ‘reveal’ animal husbandry practice believed to be poor”.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, this statement reflects the absolute lack of concern for animal well-being. The treatment of these animals is appalling, not poor. Animal cruelty is standard industry practice, not an aberration. Activists seek to bring transparency and truth to the public arena, enabling consumers to make balanced decisions about their purchases and food choices.

If industry is confident that their practices are acceptable then there should be no issue with footage showing industry practice. If the government is confident that their animal welfare laws are so robust, then let’s show those lawful practices to the public. Tail docking, castration, eye teeth clipping, debeaking, removal of skin (mulesing), battery cages, farrowing crates, faeces laden broiler sheds- let’s shine the camera light onto the everyday cruelties that these animals suffer.

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NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie is documented as stating that;

“These incursions fall into the ‘trespass with intent’ category, NSW Police have been investigating these incidents actively, but evidence gathering around such incidents presents significant challenges”.

No comment on the crimes exposed by activists?

Many may not be aware, but the NSW Police are also an enforcement agency under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is not just the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League that has powers to enforce and prosecute animal cruelty crimes, yet the attitude of government and the NSW Police is to leave enforcement to a poorly resourced charitable organisation that is almost completely unaccountable to government. Yet significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists.

Statistics show that cruelty committed against animals often leads to crimes committed against people, yet, as can be seen from this attitude of the NSW Police, significant police resources are being used to investigate and pursue animal activists filming intensive farms. This shows a narrow-minded approach to tackling crime and future protection of the community. Would the community, or indeed government be satisfied if a child services charity were tasked with the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against children? Would it be acceptable for the NSW Police to be actively pursuing whistle-blowers filming or recording child abuse despite the physical smacking of children being lawful?

NSW Police also told the forum that;

“the ideology of farm trespass by animal activists was “complex” and not based on improving animal welfare practices.”

This is correct, it is not the job of animal activist to improve animal welfare. This is the job of every stakeholder that attended this forum and their decisions should be based on truth, transparency, and the wider public’s expectations of what is acceptable welfare practices. Indeed, the activists are doing the job that all these stakeholders are failing to do themselves, that is to publish the truth to the public and allowing the public to decide what they expect. Instead, animal welfare is seen as an unnecessary cost to already profitable business models that seek to sanitise and disconnect the public from what really goes on behind the factory farm shed door.

The documents go on to suggest;

“Introduction of other measures to improve evidence collection, for example, security cameras may also be considered.”

How can someone, on one hand, justify installing elaborate security recording networks to deter activists YET dismiss sensible reforms such as mandatory CCTV of inside the shed or inside the slaughterhouse? Does one not stop and think that maybe, if farmers installed cameras facing in the shed, on the animals, then there will be no need for cameras facing outside the shed to deter activists?

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Indeed, for me it has become personal. Twelve months ago I attempted to visit Rivalea pig slaughterhouse to discuss the cruel method by which pigs are subjected to gassing prior to slaughter. I was refused entry at the front gate and never left public space and yet I am currently the subject of a police investigation as a result of that visit. Again, this is a sign of cover up and intimidation, rather than let an elected MP formally tour the facility and witness the slaughtering method, I was denied access. Rivalea engaged their industry heavyweight, Australian Pork Ltd, and now almost 12 months to the day I am contacted by the NSW Police and informed that I am under investigation. It is true that, due to all the industry efforts to hide and cover up standard practices that they are ironically so proud of, they have in fact made the public more suspicious.

Mark Pearson MLCMark Pearson MLC

 

Apology to Ray Hadley from the Animal Justice Party

Late last month we issued two press releases which criticised and questioned radio 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley.

In particular it was suggested that Mr Hadley had a financial stake in greyhound racing and an association with a person banned as a trainer.

We now know and acknowledge that Ray Hadley has had no interest in any greyhound for many years. He has no greyhounds nor any personal interest in the industry.

Our suggestions to the contrary were based on unreliable and wrong information and we expressly apologise for those errors and suggestions that his broadcasts were motivated by self-interest. We have already withdrawn all suggestions of any involvement by Mr Hadley in animal cruelty and corruption and again express our regret for those false assertions.

It is pleasing to note that although Mr Hadley opposes the total shutdown of the greyhound industry, he shares our abhorrence of the disgraceful conduct of some in that industry which has recently been exposed.

ACT Government ignores proven non-lethal alternatives to cruel kangaroo killing

The ACT Government is continuing to ignore non-lethal alternatives to the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of kangaroos in public reserves in the nation’s capital.

National President of the Animal Justice, Party Professor Steve Garlick said today that the ACT Labor Government and the Greens had ignored calls to use well-researched and well-used non-lethal wildlife management practices instead of cruelly shooting, beheading and bashing to death the country’s national emblem.

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NSW ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY MP MARK PEARSON EJECTED BY LOCAL NATIONAL MP FROM PUBLIC MEETING ON HUNTING TRESPASS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Date 21/04/2016

NSW ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY MP MARK PEARSON EJECTED BY LOCAL NATIONAL MP FROM PUBLIC MEETING ON HUNTING TRESPASS

When is a public meeting a closed meeting? When Kevin Humphries, Nationals Member for Barwon says so! Animal Justice MP banned from public meeting on stock theft and illegal hunting trespass.

In February 2016, after months of negative media publicity about the devastating impact of illegal hunting trespass on rural landholders, the Baird Government announced the establishment of the Stock Theft and Trespass Review, to be conduct by the well-respected former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Stephen Bradshaw.

As the first elected member of the Animal Justice Party to be represented in NSW parliament, I have received a number of calls from distressed landholders, traumatised by illegal hunting trespass on their properties. Landholders are fearful for their own lives as well as describing the carnage left by weekend warriors who blast away at any animal that moves. Dead and dying wildlife and abandoned hunting dogs are often found on their properties.

It was for this reason that I was keen to attend a public meeting of the Stock Theft and Trespass Review. My staff contacted the Review office as well as Mr Humphries’s staff given his role as host of the Barwon meetings. They sought and were given the details about the upcoming meetings. At no point was I told that I could not attend the public meeting. Meetings were promoted on the Stock Theft and Trespass Review Facebook with “Please come along if you’re in the area”.

I had already intended to visit Barwon, the largest electorate in NSW (48% of NSW land mass) where Broken Hill is central, in order to address the information that had come to me regarding the disturbing rise in the serious egregious cruelty inflicted on animals in both illegal and legal hunting. I had also organised to meet key animal protection and rescue groups.

What became apparent was the hostility and defensive resistance from the Nationals member for the electorate, Kevin Humphries who insisted that I leave within several minutes of my arrival at the public meeting in Broken Hill on the 19th April. I was frogmarched out of the meeting by Mr Humphries before I was even able to ask a question. Two police officers appeared by his side, which is a quite extraordinary given the public nature of the meeting and fact that I am a democratically elected representative of the people of NSW.

I was not given the opportunity to raise my concerns regarding the brutality of hunting and its increased incidence on private property and how this terrifies land owners as well as terrifying, maiming and killing animals. It appears this National party member wants to obstruct any constructive discussion to address the growing violent culture of killing animals for sick enjoyment which in turn frightens property owners where these animals live or move through.

This attitude by the National Member for Barwon is completely unacceptable and indefensible.

I refuse to be shut out of addressing this appalling situation and I will return in several months to address a public meeting where police, rangers and regulatory authorities will be invited to attend. I will also be meeting with animal rescue and carer groups and with Indigenous elders.

My aim is to lobby for a proactive Task Force to address this issue in this region and for a pilot task force to be established in other regions of NSW where this violent culture has developed.

Contact:

Mark Pearson: 0417 252 107

END

Eurobodalla Shire Council favours guns and shooting over a culturally creative nature-based people’s festival

The Animal Justice Party said today it was astonished that Eurobodalla Shire Council had opted for a festival based on guns over the AJP’s innovative proposal promoting the region’s growing sustainable and creative businesses.

Professor Steve Garlick, President of the AJP, said that the organisation’s proposal would have brought a significant economic boost to the Shire.

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Support for animal cruelty potentially just got a whole lot worse with the changes to Senate voting arrangements

The Turnbull lead Coalition Government has an appalling record in its support for animal cruelty. In just a few months it has added further support to the live trade in farm animals, the grotesque kangaroo slaughter industry, and the overseas trade in greyhound dogs to name just three areas.

The changes to the voting system recently imposed upon us by the Liberal and Green alliance means this record on animal cruelty by the Australian Parliament may get a whole lot worse. Both of these parties believe it will increase their chances of having their own senators elected while smaller parties will be disadvantaged. The major parties already have a disproportionately greater number of Senate seats compared to their share of the overall vote, while smaller parties share of Senate seats is currently lower than their 20 percent share of the Senate vote.

The new changes mean voters have to number a minimum of six party-named boxes above the line. Alternatively, one can number at least 12 candidate-named boxes below the line. As so much confusion is expected in relation to the new system on Election Day, just one party box numbered above the line will be accepted to prevent a very high rate of informal vote.

Voting [1] for the AJP above the line will give animals a better chance in the decisions of the Australian Parliament then they have ever had before. The AJP:

  • is the only political party that has preventing animal cruelty as its central objective
  • is much larger than many of the other parties often referred to as micro parties
  • will gain enough votes to ensure major Parties will want to conclude preference deals with us to try and help their candidate gain the last Senate seat in the State. In exchange for this we will demand concessions for the animals
  • stands in lower as well upper house seats and there is no change in that voting system. By strategically targeting marginal lower house seats we will again be pressuring the major Parties to negotiate with us for the animals
  • will only highly preference other parties where we are convinced they support animal wellbeing in their policies and practices
  • was able to win a seat in NSW under a similar voting system, however it will be harder to do this federally as the percentage of votes required for a federal seat is greater than it is in NSW
  • has excellent Senate candidates and resources (esp. brilliant volunteers) to fight this election and are still in with a chance of winning seats.

AJP stands toe to toe against duck shooters in Victoria

Today, our party convenor in Victoria – Bruce Poon – is on the wetlands with many other AJP office bearers, members and supporters. If you’ve ever wondered how the Animal Justice Party is working to end this cruel slaughter, here’s a message from Bruce to explain:

The Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) led by the redoubtable Laurie Levy have been on the wetlands rescuing wounded waterbirds for 30 years now. Laurie and the other people at CADS are thorough professionals, and have done fantastic work in saving lives, but also demonstrating to Victorians that this annual slaughter is cruel and unnecessary.
All of this campaigning over the years has led us to this point. The overwhelming majority of Victorians support a ban on duck shooting, the number of shooters is tiny (0.4% of the population), and yet the Government will still not ban it. Why?

Leading in to the Victorian State election of 2014, AJP made Duck Shooting, a matter of state legislation, one of our key campaigns. We had a number of meetings with the major parties to try and ensure a cessation, but with no result. Even as late as a few weeks before election day, we were still negotiating on the duck’s behalf with key ministers and Labor politicians in marginal seats. Even then, we were unable to budge the Labor party as a whole.

Despite getting MORE votes than the Shooters and Fishers party, we won zero seats in the upper house and they won 2, with the preference support of a range of small and major parties. They now hold 2 seats in the Legislative Council of 40. Labor hold 14, and require 21 votes on each bill.

This is the nub of the problem. If WE had won two seats, and the Shooters nil, Duck shooting would be over. But the Labor government requires Shooters and Fishers support in the Council for a range of initiatives. The Premier is reported to have had lunch with their MPs the day before a duck season was announced this year.

If we want to end the cruelty of duck shooting, and many other animal abuses, we must win for them a measure of power. Only parliamentary power, supported by the public, will see these campaigns won.

So this year, like so many others, many AJP members will be seen out on the wetlands of Victoria with CADS and other groups, rescuing ducks and trying to prevent suffering and death. Let’s hope that it sends the strongest possible message to the Government, and public outrage grows. But also remember to support our initiatives to grow the Animal Justice Party and win political power, because it is the ultimate strategic tool to achieve justice for all animals.

Animal Justice Party renewed policy on greyhound racing

The AJP Position

The Animal Justice Party believes that animals should be enjoyed, appreciated, respected and cared for in terms of their natural behaviours, whether wild or domesticated. They should not be terrified as they perform unnatural behaviours, under pressure to perform for monetary gain and forced to endure illness, injury and over-exertion all for the pleasure of audience entertainment and gambling. The AJP therefore seeks a uniform nationwide ban on animals in entertainment ban, through Federal legislation. Continue reading

Animal Justice Party MP condemns illegal hunting and calls for more funding for Rural Crime Investigators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Date 28/01/2016
ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY – The Hon. Mark Pearson, MLC

The Hon. Mark Pearson, MLC has previously warned that the number one concern for farmers is illegal hunting trespass, with research backing his claim: www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-10/rural-crime-increase/6684612

“Since being elected to the NSW upper house last year, my office has received a steady stream of calls from distressed and angry landholders about illegal hunting on their properties.” Continue reading