Australia’s wool brokers back mandatory pain relief moves

Terry Sim, August 26, 2019

NCWSBA executive director Chris Wilcox, left, with WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey at Wool Week in Melbourne last week.

AUSTRALIA’S peak wool brokers’ body has agreed to back industry plans to mandate the use of pain relief for the surgical mulesing of sheep.

National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia executive director Chris Wilcox confirmed the body’s board had at its annual general meeting last Thursday backed WoolProducers Australia’s call for mandatory pain relief.

“The board unanimously agreed to support that call for the mandatory use of pain relief, either pre or post (operative).”

Mr Wilcox expected that brokers would be urging their wool grower clients to use pain relief when mulesing sheep.

“And if it is legislated, the broker will be ensuring that their clients abide by that.

“We will be doing a lot of work to ensure they do what is required.”

In his weekly newsletter, Mr Wilcox said the NCWSBA decision on pain relief was based on a survey of NCWSBA members that showed the overwhelming majority of members supported mandating the use of pre and/or post-operative products.

WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey said the peak grower body appreciated the brokers’ support for its mandatory pain relief policy.

“It is formalising what the vast majority of producers are doing already and it gives us an opportunity to reset the agenda, and tell the story that mulesing and pain relief is done for the long-term welfare benefits to the sheep.

“It gives an opportunity then to talk about wool growers’ sustainability practices and the animal welfare programs we run in Australia such as managing endemic disease and preventing exotic diseases.”

Mr Wilcox said brokers also supported changing the description of pain relief on the National Wool Declaration – currently described with the acronym PR.

“The other thing we are saying is we shouldn’t be calling it ‘pain relief’; let’s call it something such as analgesic or anaesthetic.”

Mr Wilcox said the NCWSBA is aware that there are submissions to AWEX’s National Wool Declaration review requesting the ‘pain relief’ phrase change.

“It probably is time to actually demonstrate what it is as a positive rather using ‘pain relief’, which has a negative connotation.”

Mulesing ban and pain relief  use bill progressing

Animal Justice Party member and member of New South Wale’s Legislative Council mark Pearson welcomed the brokers’ support. Mr Pearson last week gave notice of a bill to make pain relief mandatory for all sheep surgical procedures where pain relief is available. The second reading of bill, which also includes a prohibition on mulesing from January 2022, is scheduled for 19 September, after which it will be ready for debate.

Mr Pearson said on the morning of the bill’s second reading, intended to present him with petitions with more than 200,000 signatories from Europe and the United States calling for mandatory use of pain relief for mulesing and other operations, and government intervention to phase out mulesing in Australia.

“I don’t think there will be a problem with the government supporting it (the bill), even though they would prefer industry to drive their own changes.

“I think there are good reasons why we should legislate it.”

Mr Pearson is expecting “a longer debate” on the issue of banning mulesing, which is opposed by WoolProducers Australia and Sheep Producers Australia

Sheep welfare focus at Dubbo forum

Mr Storey and leaders in the fields of sheep welfare, pain relief and wool customer expectations will speak at a Dubbo seminar in New South Wales tomorrow.

The sheep welfare and husbandry best practice seminar is being held by Macdonald and Co Woolbrokers at the Garden Hotel from 10am.

Guest speakers will include G Schneider Australia managing director Tim Marwedel, CSIRO scientist Dr Ali Small, Andrew Brewer from Bayer Animal Health, Numnuts creator Robin Smith, Kristen Hegarty from Boehringer Ingleheim and Les Metcalf from Troy laboratories.


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  1. Sherrie Cordie, August 27, 2019

    Interested to know what is defined as a surgical procedure??

  2. Peter Small, August 26, 2019

    Well done, brokers and WoolProducers. If growers now put care into complying with shearing declarations we might say the industry has turned the corner.

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