New laws: Children will be protected from animal abusers in NSW

MEDIA STATEMENT: 24 NOVEMBER 2021

 

Abusers who commit serious animal cruelty will be permanently disqualified from working with children, and people who commit other animal cruelty offences will face increased scrutiny when applying for a Working with Children Check, under new laws passed in NSW last night.

For the first time, the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League will also be authorised under law to report animal cruelty charges and convictions to the Children’s Guardian.

These reforms were brought about due to the work of Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, who has been lobbying the Government about this issue for the past 1.5 years.

 

Read the Bill here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bills/Pages/bill-details.aspx?pk=3925

 

Please see comment from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC below:

Back in 2020, I learnt that a NSW man charged with stabbing a dog with a pitchfork six times, and leaving her strung up to a tree to die a slow painful death, was still possibly working with children. I was shocked to find that people convicted of high level, intentional acts of animal cruelty were not automatically disqualified from holding a Working with Children Check.

For the past 1.5 years, I have been lobbying to Government to fix this shocking oversight in our Working with Children Check system. 

In May 2021, the Animal Justice Party passed a motion in the Upper House calling for urgent reforms in this space, and we have been working closely with the Government to bring this legislation before Parliament, which better recognises the link between child abuse and animal abuse. 

A significant body of research shows that the abuse of animals in the home is a strong indicator that children are also being abused. One study found that in 83 per cent of households where animal abuse occurred, there was also the risk of child abuse.

Research has also shown connections between animal abuse and domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, gun violence and a higher propensity towards violence in society generally. We must recognise that people who harm animals are a risk to the broader community, and that in order to protect children, we should not allow them to obtain a Working with Children clearance.

This Bill will make urgently needed improvements to the Working With Children Check scheme by banning those convicted of serious animal cruelty from working with children, and making anyone charged or convicted of animal cruelty subject to special assessment by the Children’s Guardian. It will also ensure that the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League can report to the Children’s Guardian on animal cruelty investigations and convictions.

Shockingly, prior to this Bill, many animal cruelty offences were not mandatory triggers for assessment, meaning that animal abusers could slip through the system unnoticed. Even worse, animal protection authorities were not routinely reporting their charges and convictions to the Office of the Children’s Guardian, meaning large chunks of potentially relevant information were being missed. The laws have now been changed to correct that, and to ensure children are protected from animal abusers.

Our laws must recognise that people who harm animals are a risk to the broader community. Violence does not discriminate.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Legislation passed: Convenience killing could be outlawed in council pounds after bill passes NSW Upper House

MEDIA STATEMENT: 18 NOVEMBER 2021

 

Legislation to stop the convenience killing of healthy animals in NSW pounds passed last night in the NSW Upper House. The Companion Animals Amendment (Rehoming Animals) Bill 2021 tabled by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst passed with the support of Labor, Greens, Independent Justin Field, Christian Democratic Party, and One Nation. The Bill now has carriage in the Lower House with Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich.

The Bill was tabled in response to the shooting of 15 dogs and puppies by Bourke Shire Council earlier this year. These animals were killed despite the fact that at least two rescue groups were willing to take them in, and were able to do so under the COVID-19 Public Health Orders.

 

Please see comment from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC below:

In NSW, tens of thousands of homeless dogs and cats are killed each year. In 2019-2020, almost 4000 dogs and 8000 cats were killed in NSW pounds. Only a very small percentage of these animals are euthanised because they are so unwell it would be cruel to keep them alive.

In August this year Bourke Shire Pound shot 15 dogs in their care, including a mother dog and her puppies. These animals were killed despite the fact that at least two rescue groups were willing to take them and find loving homes, and were able to do so under the COVID-19 Public Health Orders. Shockingly, it appears the shooting was legal.

This atrocity could have been avoided – our weak laws failed these dogs. But it isn’t just happening at Bourke Shire Council. There are some council pounds that have very high kill rates because they are not working with rescues, for example, one NSW pound euthanised nearly 150 dogs and over 130 cats but released less than 40 animals to rescue groups.

This is convenience killing - the killing of rehomable animals because it is seen as easier, cheaper, or faster than working to rehome the animals directly or through a rehoming organisation. 

If the Government accepts these laws in the Lower House, they will mandate pounds to work with rescue groups, and prohibit the killing of animals where a rescue group is willing to take on their care. Killing animals is never the solution.

The shooting of the dogs at Bourke Shire Pound should never have happened - now we need to make sure it never happens again. These legislative changes have the support of the Upper House – the Government is aware that major reforms are needed in this space, and they will now be the deciding vote on whether this legislation becomes law. It will speak volumes about their stance on animal protection if they choose to reject this Bill after it passed in the Upper House.

Convenience killing in pounds and shelters must be outlawed.

The NSW community does not accept the killing of healthy, rehomable animals for the sake of convenience, especially when there are so many people and rescue groups who are eager to give dogs and cats loving homes.

This Bill will stop the convenience killing of healthy, rehomable animals in pounds by making it mandatory for councils to work with rescue groups and allow rescues to rehome animals on death row. Yesterday, the Bill became one step closer to passing into law. 

I have consulted with rescue groups and councils about this issue, and all have said we desperately need changes in this space.

This is the first step toward fixing the broken NSW pound system. We will continue to work with the Government on further reforms to build better pound facilities, improve standards of care, properly resource pounds and rescue groups and address the number of homeless animals making their way into pounds in the first place.

 

BILL AVAILABLE HERE: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bills/Pages/bill-details.aspx?pk=3905

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Women’s health top of Parliament’s agenda with launch of ‘Parliamentary Friends of Women’s Health’

MEDIA STATEMENT: 9 NOVEMBER 2021

 

The inaugural meeting for the Parliamentary Friends of Women’s Health was held today in NSW Parliament. Parliamentary Friendship Groups are established by Members of Parliament to raise awareness of key issues, increase liaison with related stakeholders, and to encourage cross-party collaboration on important issues that may need Parliament’s attention. Animal Justice Party MP the Hon. Emma Hurst will serve as Chair, with the Hon. Penny Sharpe (Labor Party), the Hon. Catherine Cusack (Liberal Party), and Ms Abigail Boyd (Greens) serving as co-deputies.

Women’s health continues to be overlooked in NSW and across Australia. Funding for research into symptoms, pain and treatments associated with diseases affecting women is insufficient, and women find their pain symptoms are often dismissed by medical professionals.

 

Please see quotes below from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC:

Australian women continue to struggle to have their health issues recognised as legitimate, with a 2021 national survey revealing that more than one in three women say they've had health concerns dismissed by a GP, and are twice as likely to feel dismissed by their GP than men.

Research paints a disturbing picture of this growing global health issue, finding that women admitted to emergency departments are less likely to be taken seriously, are less likely to be given effective painkillers after surgery, and are more likely to referred to psychological services when describing symptoms of pain.

An early focus of the Parliamentary Friends of Women’s Health will be to address the painful conditions of endometriosis and adenomyosis. Endometriosis affects over 260,000 women in NSW, yet a diagnosis still takes an average of 7 years. Adenomyosis, a condition often described as the ‘evil cousin of endometriosis’, is even less understood in the community, despite the fact that the condition may affect between 20% to 65% of females.

Too many women have suffered from these diseases for far longer than they should have because of the difficulty of getting a diagnosis, and the lack of understanding of the illnesses. Now that a group of passionate cross-party MPs have come together to take action on women’s health issues, I am hopeful that we will see some much needed progress in this space.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Man's pathetic sentence for drowning cat in garbage bin leads to calls for justice system overhaul

MEDIA STATEMENT: 26 OCTOBER 2021

Coffs Harbour man Phil Tripp has been sentenced after pleading guilty to drowning Mango the cat in a garbage bin. Emma Hurst, Animal Justice Party MP has described the sentence as ‘pathetic’, and says it is a ‘wake up call’ to review the criminal justice system. Mr Tripp was sentenced to a 9 month intensive corrections order and 100 hours community service.

In more positive news, we believe Mr Tripp will be one of the first people in NSW to have an automatic lifetime animal ban following new laws introduced by the Animal Justice Party earlier this year (see section 31AB of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979). 

 

See statement below from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC:

This man is a danger to the community. This shocking ruling fails to recognise the seriousness of his crime. Drowning an animal to death is cruel and unforgivable, and it deserves more than a slap on the wrist.

Mr Tripp caused extreme stress, pain, suffering and anxiety to an animal in what can only be described as a horrific act of violence.

This man intentionally drowned an animal. The suffering of any animal drowned to death is unthinkable. It is a painful and frightening death. Animal victims of forced drowning will struggle violently for over a minute. It is death by suffocation and is unjustifiable animal abuse in all circumstances.

This is just another example of a pathetic penalty for animal abuse. This will do nothing to deter future acts of abuse and fails to recognize the seriousness of his crime. 

The justice system needs an urgent overhaul on how it deals with cases of animal cruelty. In the UK sentencing guidelines have proven useful in ensuring the punishment fits the crime. Despite a large increase in penalties introduced in NSW this year, the courts are still failing to recognize animal cruelty as the serious crime it is. 

The community is outraged that animals like Mango have once again been failed by the courts.

Earlier this year the Animal Justice Party passed amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 that impose automatic lifetime animal bans for anyone charged for serious animal cruelty offences. Thankfully, because of this new law, this man will never be allowed to have or work with animals again.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Breaking: NSW Parliament condemns dog killing at Bourke Shire Pound

MEDIA RELEASE: 13 OCTOBER 2021

BREAKING: NSW PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS DOG KILLING AT BOURKE SHIRE POUND

Upper House calls for new laws to stop convenience killing

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has successfully moved a motion in NSW Parliament today condemning the shooting of 15 dogs and puppies at Bourke Shire Council Pound that occurred in August this year, with Council citing COVID concerns as their reason for the death of the dogs. In response to the travesty, the motion also called on the Minister for Local Government to prohibit the killing of animals in pounds and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take on their care.

The motion was agreed to without objection.

Emma Hurst MP from the Animal Justice Party says, “Now that we have the support of the NSW Government, our focus will be in ensuring these laws are passed. The shooting of these dogs should never have happened - now we need to make sure it never happens again. 

“The killing of 15 dogs and puppies at Bourke Shire Council was barbaric and it is no wonder it received worldwide condemnation. Convenience killing in pounds and shelters must be outlawed. 

“This atrocity could have been avoided – our weak laws failed these dogs. Laws that mandate pounds to work with rescue groups and prohibit the killing of animals where a rescue group is willing to take on their care are essential. Killing animals is never the solution.

“It seemed that no genuine attempt was made by Bourke Shire Pound to get the dogs into foster care or to rescue groups. We heard that there were at least two groups who were willing to take in the animals. Such action would have been in line with the COVID-19 public health orders.

“Recently we met with the Office of Local Government, enforcement agencies, rescue groups and councils across New South Wales to discuss urgent changes that need to be made to our broken pound system. Currently councils only have a duty to consider “alternative action” before euthanasia and are not compelled to rehome animals to rescues. This needs to change.  

 “Animals are not disposable. We need to learn from this atrocity at Bourke Shire Pound and adjust our laws accordingly. We will continue to pursue this issue in Parliament to ensure rescue groups can save animals on death row. What happened at Bourke Shire Council cannot be allowed to happen again,” said Ms Hurst.

 

FULL MOTION BELOW:

(1) That this House notes that:

(a) on 22 August 2021, it was reported that Bourke Shire Council had shot and killed 15 dogs in their care, including a mother and her newborn puppies,

(b) these animal were killed despite the fact that at least two rescue groups were willing to take them and find them loving homes, and were able to do so under the COVID-19 Public Health Orders, and

(c) Bourke Shire Councils actions have received worldwide condemnation, and appear to be in breach of the Companion Animals Act 1988.

 

(2) That this House:

(a) condemns the cruel actions of Bourke Shire Council, and

(b) calls on the Minister for Local Government to prohibit the killing of animals in pounds and shelters where a rescue group is willing to take on their care.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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MP response to dog tortured and killed in Sydney

MEDIA STATEMENT: 12 OCTOBER 2021

Statement from Emma Hurst Animal Justice Party MP in regards to a dog found tied to a block of cement in a river in Sydney’s south. A man will face court today, charged with offences including torturing, beating and causing the death of an animal, and committing an act of aggravated cruelty upon an animal.

 

Please see quotes below from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC:

This is beyond horrifying. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering endured by this sentient being. Anyone who harms an animal in an aggressive act of cruelty is a danger to other animals and the wider community. 

Frighteningly, anyone who is found guilty of animal cruelty similar to this could still pass a Working with Children Check in NSW. Our laws must be updated to reflect the research showing that violence does not discriminate. There is a link between animal abuse and child abuse and we must change our laws to protect both children and animals from anyone who commits acts of abuse.

Earlier this year the Animal Justice Party passed amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 making New South Wales the first state in Australia to impose automatic lifetime animal bans for anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty offences. If this man is found guilty under these provisions, he will never be able to care for or work with animals again – but we need to ensure animal abusers cannot work with children either.

People who are violent are violent. Extensive research shows a strong link between animal and human abuse, suggesting perpetrators commonly recommit acts of violence against humans and animals in the future. Animal cruelty is a serious, violent crime, and it must be punished accordingly. Our laws are woefully out of touch with the current research and the Animal Justice Party is fighting to change that. 

If this man is found guilty, he could be facing up to 5 years jail time. We will be watching this case closely.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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New laws protect animals in strata

MEDIA STATEMENT: 24 AUGUST 2021

New laws spearheaded by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst will come into effect tomorrow, stopping strata schemes from passing by-laws that unreasonably prevent owners and occupiers from having companion animals.

From 25 August, strata schemes will not be able to impose blanket bans on animals in apartment complexes, and an application to keep an animal can only be refused if it ‘unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment’ of their property.

 

Please see quotes below from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC:

Until now, strata complexes in New South Wales have been allowed to have by-laws that prevent people having a companion animal in their care, with nothing stopping strata management from retrospectively creating restrictions for residents who live under a strata scheme. The Animal Justice Party has changed that.

There are many reasons these laws needed to change. Thousands of animals are killed in pounds every year and by-laws were stopping families from rescuing these animals and providing them a safe and loving forever home.

Animal-ban by-laws were even being brought in retrospectively - recently Colin and his greyhound Bu were facing losing their home because of a retrospective by-law that meant Colin couldn't live with Bu in the property he owns.

These new laws will also help some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Accommodation for victims fleeing violence with animals is one of the major reasons people delay leaving dangerous situations. Over 90% of victims report a lack of animal friendly accommodation as a barrier for fleeing violence and nearly 50% delay leaving because of issues trying to find alternative accommodation with animals.

Strata schemes were also reportedly requiring people to prove that an animal is an assistance animal in contradiction to section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Animal companionship has dramatically increased during lockdowns and by-laws could have created a threat to many families and animals across NSW if strata schemes were allowed to impose blanket animal bans, leaving families and their animals nowhere to go. 

We are a nation of animal lovers, and our state must become more companion animal friendly- this is the first step. Companion animals are family members and no one should have to face losing their home, especially now while we are still in the midst of a pandemic, simply because of a by-law.

To get the support of the Government, Regulations around the definition of ‘unreasonable’ were created following public consultation. The regulations have just been released: https://legacy.legislation.nsw.gov.au/regulations/2021-464.pdf 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Man allegedly drowns cat in bin: MP statement on arrest in Coffs Harbour

MEDIA STATEMENT: 23 JULY 2021

Statement from Emma Hurst Animal Justice Party MP in regards to yesterday’s arrest of a Coffs Harbour man who allegedly drowned a cat inside a garbage bin:

“Drowning an animal to death is cruel, thoughtless and unforgivable. This case has caused extreme community outrage - and rightly so. 

“The suffering of any animal drowned to death is unthinkable. It is a painful and frightening death. Animal victims of forced drowning will struggle violently for over a minute. It is death by suffocation and is unjustifiable animal abuse in all circumstances.

“There’s a well-researched link between animal abuse and violence towards humans. Anyone who harms an animal in an aggressive act of cruelty is a danger to other animals and the wider community. 

“Earlier this year the Animal Justice Party passed amendments to the Crimes Act that impose automatic lifetime animal bans for anyone charged for serious animal cruelty offences. If this man is found guilty under these provisions, he will never be able to care for or work with animals again. 

“New South Wales has some of the strongest penalties for animal abuse in the country – if this man is found guilty under the Crimes Act, he could be facing up to 5 years jail time. We will be watching this case closely as it goes through court.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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MP response to arrest over puppy set on fire in Sydney's south

MEDIA STATEMENT: 14 MAY 2021

 

Please see quotes below from Animal Justice Party MP, Emma Hurst in regards a Sydney man in the Liverpool area being arrested today for allegedly setting a six-month old puppy on fire. The puppy has been euthanised due to severe burn injuries.

What happened to this puppy is sickening and unimaginable. I am lost for words. Any person who deliberately sets a puppy on fire is a danger to other animals and our community. But because of the NSW Government’s incompetence, any case of animal cruelty going before the courts right now won’t get proper justice.

The Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall has spent the last 8 weeks sitting on his own legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty in New South Wales, despite it having cross party support. It is unclear why the Government has failed to take action to pass their own Bill into law, and update our State’s pathetic, outdated penalties for animal abuse. Animal abusers are still facing some of the weakest penalties in Australia- just $5500 for an act of animal cruelty. This does nothing to deter abuse.

People who are violent are violent. Extensive research has shown a strong link between animal and human abuse, suggesting perpetrators commonly recommit acts of violence against humans and animals in the future. Animal cruelty is a serious, violent crime, and it must be punished accordingly. 

Following the Agriculture Minister’s inaction, I will now be moving to bring my own tougher penalties Bill to debate in the next Parliamentary sitting week, so we can ensure animals are being protected by adequate legislation in NSW.  

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Multi-group protest demands an end to captive dolphin breeding at Sea World

MEDIA RELEASE: 10 APRIL 2021

MULTI-GROUP PROTEST DEMANDS AN END TO CAPTIVE DOLPHIN EXPLOITATION AT SEA WORLD

Animal protection groups say QLD must catch up with the rest of Australia and outlaw the breeding of dolphins for so-called ‘entertainment’

 

What: Protest to end the captive breeding and use of dolphins in circus-style shows by Sea World. 

Who: 50+ local protesters, MP Emma Hurst (Animal Justice Party), Ben Pearson (World Animal Protection), Chay Neal (Animal Liberation Queensland), Angela Banovic (Dolphin Freedom Fighters), Animal Justice Party Queensland.

When: Saturday April 10th, 10am

Where: Sea World, Sea World Drive, Main Beach

Media Opportunities: Footage of chanting protesters with signs and placards, interviews with Emma Hurst MP, Ben Pearson, Chay Neal and Angela Banovic.

 

Animal protection groups are calling on QLD to ban the captive breeding and use of dolphins in circus-style shows, following new laws in NSW that effectively stop dolphin ‘abuse-ment’ parks. QLD is the only state in Australia where these highly intelligent animals are still being bred and born into a life of captivity and forced to perform for human entertainment.

Sea World is reported to have nearly 30 dolphins in captivity - many born and bred in the park - who perform tricks on a daily basis. But with increasing pressure to ban the exploitation of dolphins for human amusement, animal advocates from across Australia say that the days of seeing dolphins perform tricks in artificial pools are numbered.

 

From Emma Hurst MP (Animal Justice Party):

“New South Wales has introduced new laws that ensure the use of dolphins in so-called entertainment is effectively done and dusted. Queensland is now the only state in Australia still breeding dolphins for entertainment and we’re here today to tell the Queensland Government that urgent action is required to protect these animals.

“A dolphin born in captivity today could live for up to 50 years, meaning they could still be in an artificial enclosure being forced to do demeaning tricks in 2070. While NSW is working toward better protections for cetaceans in our state, Sea World on the Gold Coast continues breeding highly intelligent dolphins in artificial pools, so that they can make money from a dwindling number of spectators.

“A NSW Parliamentary inquiry heard that dolphinariums are a dying business model. People simply don’t want to see animals being humiliated. Urgent law reform in needed in Queensland to ensure animals aren’t being born into an industry likely to collapse in the next few years. It is simply irresponsible for the Government to turn a blind eye and not consider what will happen to these dolphins while Sea World loses its social licence.

 

From Ben Pearson (Head of Campaigns, World Animal Protection):

“We want these dolphins at Sea World to be the last generation kept captive for entertainment in Queensland.

“The only other dolphin venue in Australia, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in New South Wales, recognises the changing public attitudes around dolphin captivity and is working with us and Action for Dolphins to establish a sea sanctuary for their remaining dolphins.

 “This really goes to show that Sea World is out of touch with Australian society and a relic of the past.

 

From Chay Neal (Executive Director, Animal Liberation Queensland):

“Any place forcing animals to perform tricks certainly is not putting the animal's best interests first. The public would be horrified to know that over its 49 years of operation it has been estimated that hundreds of animals have died at Sea World. Disturbingly, no one will ever know the real number of casualties because Sea World isn’t required disclose this information – even to the Government.

“Sea World needs to get with the times. Animals have no place in captivity and there is no captive facility that can meet the natural behavioural needs of these animals. If Sea World had any credibility they would be well aware of this, cease their captive breeding program, only take in legitimate rescues where there is no other option, and none of these dolphins would be forced to perform for the public.

 

From Angela Banovic (Campaigner, Dolphin Freedom Fighters):

“Captive dolphins display aggressive and stereotypical behaviour unseen in the wild, including self-harm. These behaviours are evidence of the high stress levels these intelligent animals experience in captivity. The Queensland Government needs to catch up with the rest of Australia and recognise dolphins do not exist for our entertainment. It’s time to empty the tanks. 

“It's 2021, the Australian public no longer wish to see wild animals being bred and used for entertainment purposes. Bottlenose dolphins are not threatened in nature therefore breeding dolphins is unethical, exploitative and completely unnecessary.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSIE RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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