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Adjournment speech: Animal Welfare

Speeches in Parliament
Lee Rhiannon 2 Dec 2016

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (19:44): On another matter, the right of animals to be free from cruelty and suffering inflicted by humans matters greatly to the Greens. Australia's own record on the protection of animals is shameful. From our native wildlife to the animals dependent on our care for their wellbeing, we fail abjectly. Too many politicians continue to facilitate the destruction and suffering of our wildlife. In the last 40 years, our planet has lost nearly 60 per cent of its wildlife populations and is projected to lose two-thirds of its native species by 2020.

Since European colonisation, Australia has recorded the highest extinction rate of endemic land mammal species anywhere in the world. On top of those extinctions, another 49 flora and fauna species were listed in May of this year as threatened with extinction. Even Australia's most iconic animal, the kangaroo, is suffering its own cruel and uncertain future. New South Wales government data reveals unrelenting declines of commercially shot kangaroos at every single location across New South Wales; and the increasing absence of red kangaroos, from 56 per cent of their former range, and grey kangaroos from 69 per cent of their historical range, over ten years.

Meanwhile Australian governments quote hyperinflated data to assert the industrial-scale shooting of slow-growing, low-reproducing kangaroos is sustainable. Unbelievably, they keep pretending that the industry is not cruel, despite the fact that an estimated 800,000 traumatised joeys per year, orphaned when their mothers are killed, have their heads crushed or are left to die from predation, starvation and exposure. This is a national disgrace.

Yet less than two weeks ago the New South Wales Baird government legislated for the clear-felling of native habitats and the unregulated slaughter of native wildlife by landowners.' Across the New South Wales coast, the same government is installing shark nets and drum lines that kill thousands of dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks and other marine wildlife. Then there was the shocking backflip on the New South Wales greyhound racing ban. The systemic cruelty of this industry is well documented. Tragically, for thousands of animals, the news is not good, because the slaughter goes on. In time, I do believe that we will achieve a lasting ban, but right now it is a very shocking outcome.

This year, industrial egg producers in supermarkets also won their demand to market as 'free range' their cruelly factory-farmed eggs, from 10,000 hens per hectare. The fair ratio once supported by Australian consumers was a minimum of 1,500 animals per hectare.

Live exports continue to cause great suffering: 839 cattle and 4,301 sheep died on Australia's live export ships in the first six months of this year. Whistleblower and live-exports vet Dr Lynn Simpson has described this cruel industry as entailing 'unnecessary pain and suffering' for all the animals involved. She said:

… anyone who tells you any different is either a liar, they're ill-informed or they're staying silent because they're in fear of losing their job.

Across political lines, Australians are working harder than ever for the ethical and accountable treatment of animals, and the protection of our wildlife and their habitats. In Bathurst, an amazing community partnership is leading the way in non-lethal management, with the planned relocation of 150-plus kangaroos from the international Mount Panorama car-racing track. The call for a federal independent office of animal welfare—and the need for one—is stronger than ever. The Greens will continue to push for the establishment of this office and to promote the wellbeing and rights of animals throughout 2017.

Senate adjourned at 19:54

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