AUSTRALIAN wool producers have been warned not to align themselves with animal rights groups as plans are made to table a petition in the New South Wales Parliament to ban mulesing.
The petition calls for a complete phase out of mulesing in New South Wales by 2030, recognising the breeding sheep to negate the need for muesling can take time for some producers.
The petition also calls for mandatory pain relief during tail docking, castration and mulesing effective immediately are also included.
It will be tabled in coming months by Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson, who in the past has unsuccessfuly proposed legislation to phase out mulesing in the state.
Sheep Central was told the petition recieved more than 1500 signatures to date, surpassing the 500 needed to be tabled in the NSW Legislative Council.
The petition was launched after new footage was sent to Collective Fashion Justice by an ex-wool industry worker showing young lambs writhing and crying out in pain as their skin is hacked off with sharp shears.
FOUR PAWS UK has been invited to show this footage in the British Parliament, as Australian trade agreements are discussed and Mr Pearson has addressed parliamentarians on the issue.
Veterinary experts state that even with pain relief, mulesing causes distress and is unacceptable. The fashion industry and consumer attitudes are quickly shifting, as more brands pledge to stop using mulesed wool, and some choose plant-based alternatives.
Mr Pearson said the wool industry has known for decades that the public rejects “the horrific cruelty of mulesing, the most shocking mutilation of an animal.”
“Despite empty promises about change, mulesing remains the status quo.
“Left to regulate itself, the industry clearly won’t change, and that’s why we need legislation in place to commit to a ban on mulesing,” he said.
“The world is now looking in Australia’s backyard.
“Our nation must ban this cruelty or be left behind both socially and economically.”
Founding director of Collective Fashion Justice Emma Hakansson said viable and proven alternatives to mulesing exist.
“This cruel mutilation is not a necessary evil – it is archaic and must be phased out as quickly as possible.
“While a ban on mulesing is absolutely critical, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
“The wool industry is wrapped up with sheep slaughter, live export and major environmental impacts, too.
“Wool knitwear labelled as ‘responsible’, ’sustainable’ and ’natural’ may be coming from young lambs just like those suffering in this footage,” she said.
“The fashion industry must recognise that the wellbeing of animals is a critical aspect of genuinely sustainable, ethical fashion.”
Ms Hakansson said the worker who sent Collective Fashion Justice this footage has risked their safety to protect lambs.
“We’re seeing more and more industry and ex-industry workers speaking out about the violent treatment of thinking, feeling animals for the sake of fashion.”
WPA CEO hits back at FOUR PAWS’ intentions
After viewing slides from a recent Textile Exchange forum presentation by FOUR PAWS wool campaigner Rebecca Picallo Gil, WoolProducers chief executive officer Jo Hall said animal rights groups deliberately ignore the fact that Australian wool growers undertake a number of animal husbandry practices to enhance the lifetime welfare outcomes of their animals and that by calling for a ban on these procedures will ultimately result in adverse welfare outcomes for many sheep.
Click here to see slides from the FOUR PAWS presentation.
“FOUR PAWS have shown their true intentions regarding the future of the Australian wool and sheep meat industries.
“Not only are they calling for a ban on mulesing, but they are now working on trying to ban tail docking, castration and artificial insemination,” Ms Hall said.
“The bottom line is animal rights groups like FOUR PAWS do not want sheep and wool production to continue in any capacity.
“This should serve as a warning to those producers who have aligned themselves with animal rights groups to further their own individual production and management systems,” she said.
In 2020, the report ‘Towards a non-mulesed future,’ funded by funded by Humane Society International and FOUR PAWS, featured several non-mulesed Merino breeders outlining the benefits of breeding plain-bodied sheep that did not require mulesing. Click here to read the Sheep Central report.
“It’s a pretty short-sighted view that will jeopardise the entire Australian wool industry when the long term goal of these groups is to ultimately shutdown all livestock production,” Ms Hall said.