ANIMAL Justice Party member Mark Pearson will seek police action against New South Wales sheep producers who mules without pain relief if his Bill to mandate it and ban mulesing fails.
The New South Wales Government last week opposed his Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures) Bill 2019 and an amendment proposed by the Opposition to send it to the parliament’s standing agriculture committee also failed.
The Bill proposed to mandate pain relief for mulesing and to ban mulesing in the state by January 2022.
In New South Wales Legislative Council last week, the vote on the amendment was 17:17 with a casting vote by acting president of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Trevor Khan (Nationals), also going against the motion.
However, Mr Pearson said because of this, the Bill remained alive for him to bring it on again any time before the end of the current parliamentary term in March 2023.
“I will be lobbying the crossbench and the government to concede a vote and to concede that it is a wise thing to send it to the agriculture committee.”
Mr Pearson said he will be substituting for fellow Animal Justice MLC Emma Hurst on the committee.
“What we can do is analyse forensically the whole issue of analgesia and mulesing, call in witnesses, go to field days and trials of sheep freeze branding, to progress our insight into this whole issue of mulesing.
“I just need either the government to agree or to have one crossbench member to change their view and then I can get it to the committee,” he said.
“But the ban on mulesing as of the 1st of January 2022 will remain for the committee to grapple with.”
Police action needed if mulesing ban Bill fails
Mr Pearson said there was no legislative requirement for sheep producers to use pain relief when mulesing sheep, as in Victoria.
“But if this does not go ahead, if it gets blocked again, then I will be calling on the police to initiate a prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act where it states that you can mules a lamb, but you cannot cause unnecessary pain.
“The argument that is here now, is that there is analgesia available, not too expensive and very available to obtain, and for a person not to use it when they mules, it would mean that contractor, the person in charge of the lamb and the owner would all be liable to an offence under the act by doing the procedure and causing unnecessary pain,” he said.
Mr Pearson said he is not considering removing the mulesing ban clause from the Bill to increase support for mandating pain relief.
“The ban (on mulesing) does not need to be removed to get the pain relief in place.
“If the committee comes to a finding that the ban should not be for five years or come back to the parliament to consider the ban in two years, then it would then just be a question of pain relief being in place.
“The committee may well advise that pain relief should be mandatory and so the government would be compelled to seriously to seriously consider legislating that just like it has happened in Victoria.”
Mr Pearson recognised that the Bill was not supported because government and Opposition members believed two years was too short a period of adjustment before mulesing was banned.
“I think it is long enough, and made that clear that I disagree with the government and the Opposition, but it’s not the factor which brought about the vote for it not to go to the committee.
“It was the combined issue of analgesia and the ban on mulesing, because somebody could have moved an amendment to strike out the ban on mulesing by 2022 or take it to 2025, or 2030, but no such amendment was brought by the government or the Opposition,” he said.
He said it appeared as if NSW did not want to mandate pain relief for mulesing.
“It is very disappointing, because the government could brought such an amendment to strike out the ban and then the amendment would be voted on and we would have mandatory pain relief, but the government failed there.”
WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hallsaid the WPA wase pleased with the voting outcome in NSW’s Legislative Council, which has effectively stalled the Animal Justice Party’s bid to ban mulesing by 2022.
“Mulesing with pain relief is a defendable animal welfare husbandry procedure and in many cases is one of the most important long-term welfare procedures that can be undertaken during the course of a sheep’s life.
“The long term industry solution is to find an alternative to mulesing or to use genetics to cease the need for mulesing, which takes time, so to ban mulesing with two years’ notice could have led to disastrous animal welfare outcome in many instances,” she said.
Click here to read the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures) Bill 2019.