Welfare 'myths' damaging ag

29 Jul, 2014 02:00 AM
A still from the PETA footage showing shearers mistreating sheep.
Animal activists seem to think they can act as judge, jury and executioner on these matters
A still from the PETA footage showing shearers mistreating sheep.

SOUTH Australian Liberal MP Tony Pasin has launched a stinging attack on extreme animal right activists for repeated trespassing and the gathering of video footage used in anti-farm campaigns.

During a blunt speech in parliament last week, Mr Pasin expressed his strong support for responsible and sustainable livestock production in Australia.

He described his speech as being timely, “given the latest round of mischief making from animal rights activists in the past week or so”.

“Unfortunately, those of us in rural and regional Australia are getting used to guerrilla attacks from the likes of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with the use of unverified footage showing cruelty being inflicted upon livestock, which is supposedly Australian,” he said.

“Any proof of cruelty to livestock sickens me as I sure it outrages any fair-minded Australian.

“A happy, healthy animal is a productive animal”

“I have had the privilege of growing up around farm animals and I have always had a tremendous respect for the way Australian livestock producers care for their animals.

“The golden rule of running stock, whether it is sheep or cattle, pigs or poultry, is that a happy, healthy animal is a productive animal and, what is more, a productive animal is a profitable one.”

Mr Pasin said animal welfare measures are an important part of any profitable, sustainable livestock enterprise, with millions of dollars spent across the country on promoting and protecting animal health.

But he said he was unsure how extremist, anti-farming groups like PETA reconciled such investments in animal welfare by producers with, “the myth they seek to proffer about farmers not caring for their animals”.

The member of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee also expressed concern at accusations levelled at Big River Pork - a major pig abattoir situated at Murray Bridge in his Barker electorate - by way of covertly recorded video footage uploaded onto an animal rights campaign website, earlier this month.

“This is just the latest in a spate of footage obtained by criminal extremists breaking the law and trespassing onto private property, putting themselves and farm animals at great risk,” he said.

“Most of these reckless crusaders would not even understand the sort of quarantine breaches such illegal intrusions entail, especially for more intensive operations such as chicken sheds, piggeries and feedlots.

“But as they go traipsing from property to property under the cloak of darkness, they are putting the very animals they purport to campaign for at serious risk by breaking the stringent biological controls in place on such farms.”

Prior to being elected at last year’s federal poll, Mr Pasin was a lawyer in Mt Gambier and member of the Liberal Party’s Rural and Regional Federal Executive Committee from 2010 to 2013.

He said given the frequency of such trespass instances, he’s pleased the South Australian parliament was currently considering new laws which would outlaw the use of hidden cameras and microphones on private property.

He said the proposed laws would provide severe penalties for breaches by individuals and organisations and for those who publish or broadcast the material gathered.

Such laws will provide significantly stronger protection for innocent producers from the growing threat of animal activist mischief makers trespassing on farms, he said.

“Of course, the release of the footage from Big River Pork, which aroused some media interest, was followed soon after by PETA's release of footage supposedly shot in an Australian shearing shed featuring examples of livestock cruelty,” he said.

“Irrespective of the provenance of the footage, that vision has no place in modern Australia - no-one refutes that.

“Unfortunately, instead of appropriately reporting this incident to police so that the perpetrator could be dealt with, the ill-informed extremists sought to hold onto that footage and release it at a period of time which would cause the most damage to the industry.

“In the name of so-called animal welfare they would consign every hardworking Australian farmer to social welfare.

“That might be their wet dream but it is certainly not mine, because I know that those most offended by this footage are those who work with animals day to day.”

Mr Pasin said he was pleased to see federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce respond quickly and appropriately to the video footage being released, saying “quite rightly” it wasn’t representative of how the Australian wool industry operated.

“As someone who has spent his fair share of time in a shearing shed, I can confirm to you that the minister is spot-on,” he said.

Mr Pasin said PETA and their “comrades” need reminding that the police and the RSPCA were actually responsible for animal welfare legislation and for prosecuting those that breach those rules.

He said the police and RSPCA were also responsible for ensuring investigations happen and, where needed, charges are pursued through the courts.

“Animal activists seem to think they can act as judge, jury and executioner on these matters, which is a scary prospect,” he said.

“On behalf of the responsible and sustainable livestock producers of Australia, I say to these criminal extremists, ‘Stop harming Australian farmers by pursuing your calculated criminal campaign’.”

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Chick Olsson
29/07/2014 6:57:07 AM

If one has nothing to hide, then what is the problem? The best and most profitable restaurants now provide an open kitchen for guests to enjoy seeing chefs prepare their food….. just food for thought people.
29/07/2014 7:24:33 AM

MP Tony Pasin, I agree with your statements on animal welfare 100%. Chick O, I think you are being a little naïve. There is currently no war of mischief and terror being waged against restaurants.
jen from the bush
29/07/2014 7:25:34 AM

Well Chick one pig farmer was having open visits but they are already shut down because these people caused trouble then filmed the outcome when damage control had to be implemented. So who is fair and who isn't?
29/07/2014 7:48:11 AM

The animal farming industry is using and abusing animals for an economic benefit. These animals might as well be a sack of potatoes the way they are treated. Time and time again we have see the documentation of an industry that horrifies the wider community every time the disturbing vision is shown. Too many instances have been documented to claim “rogue operators” so they are now trying to hide an inherently cruel industry behind AgGag laws. Its the farming model that needs overhauling not the Surveillance Devices Act.
29/07/2014 7:53:19 AM

When people have an agenda to close down an industry (in this case farming of animals for human use) then whatever common sense argument you apply will have no benefit. Take a body of people who think home cooking is the only way to go and that resuarant meals should be outlawed then I am sure kitchens would soon close their doors to visitors too.
Chick Olsson
29/07/2014 7:58:57 AM

I believe Aussie farmers are the best in the world at what they do… we have nothing to hide…. end of story.
angry australian
29/07/2014 8:23:59 AM

No Alan it is your model that needs overhauling. Of the 7 billion people on this planet the vast majority eat meat of one type or another, and to have serial pests from the inner suburbs of Melb and Syd or from PETA trying to deny them their protein is a nonsense. We have laws in place for animal welfare, but these aren't enough for upstart little dictators. The vast majority also have rights but you seem content to trample over those to further your cause.
Justin M
29/07/2014 9:41:01 AM

My family have been farming grain and livestock for generations, and our animals are well taken care of! Alan... "The animal farming industry is using and abusing animals for an economic benefit." Well of course it needs to be economical... it is after all a business! However, to say the animals are being used and abused I think is overly dramatic! It's high time that people realise that if these businesses were all forced to close down... the animals wouldn't live happily ever after, they would never be born.
Mr Potato Head
29/07/2014 9:54:32 AM

Alan, what gives you the right to abuse a sack of potatoes??
29/07/2014 10:10:40 AM

“Any proof of cruelty to livestock sickens me as I sure it outrages any fair-minded Australian". That's what animal activists are trying to expose. Unless there is a watchdog, the cruelty will be uncovered and remain in the sheds and slaughterhouses. The Department of Agriculture is in the conflicting position of actually promoting livestock industries, and being the "judge, jury and executioner" of animal abusers - so an independent third party is needed!
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