Captive dolphin entertainment could come to an end following NSW inquiry

MEDIA RELEASE: 14 DECEMBER 2020

CAPTIVE DOLPHIN ENTERTAINMENT COULD COME TO AN END FOLLOWING NSW INQUIRY

 

Today a NSW Upper House committee report on the use of captive cetaceans for entertainment has confirmed that the industry in NSW is a dying business model, making recommendations that the NSW Government end the breeding of dolphins for commercial purposes, and  provide assistance for the feasibility of a sea sanctuary to retire the three remaining dolphins in captive entertainment in NSW.

The committee’s Deputy Chair, Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, says the report reflects that dolphinariums are an outdated industry no longer supported by the community.

“Today’s report clearly recognises that the use of cetaceans for so called ‘entertainment’ is not accepted in NSW,” said Ms Hurst.

“The Committee has called on the Government to support moves to retire the three remaining captive dolphins who currently reside at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbour to a world first sea sanctuary, and to place new restrictions on the breeding of dolphins in captivity, effectively ending their use in entertainment businesses.

“Together these recommendations would effectively end the exploitation of dolphins in NSW and stop ‘abuse-ment parks’ like Sea World setting up in NSW.

“The Committee also recommended additional funding be provided for marine rescue and rehabilitation efforts, transforming NSW from being one of the least to one of the most dolphin-friendly states in Australia.

“These recommendations come off the back of a weight of evidence from animal welfare experts, academics, scientists and the general public, all calling for an end to the exploitation of dolphins in NSW.

“During the inquiry we heard from experts that captive dolphins display aggressive and stereotypical behaviour that is unseen in the wild. These behaviours are evidence of high stress levels in captivity.

“The writing is on the wall- these animals were not born to perform. They do not exist for our entertainment. They deserve a life worth living, and this Inquiry has established that dolphinarium industries can never provide this.

“The Upper House inquiry followed a ban on the use of cetaceans for entertainment in Canada, and the Inquiry heard that Victoria had similar regulations ensuring protection of these animals. 

“After so many years of allowing exploitation, it is my hope that the State Government will follow the recommendations of the committee. The recommendations had the support of animal protection groups, as well as the last remaining dolphinarium in NSW.

“No animal should have to spend their life being held captive and forced to perform humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators. Today’s report makes clear that there is cross-party support for better protection laws for dolphins in NSW. It’s time to empty the tanks,” said Ms Hurst.

 

Summary of report recommendations regarding captive dolphins in NSW:

  • That the NSW Government provide support to the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, Action for Dolphins and World Animal Protection, to enable the completion of a feasibility study into relocating the dolphins at the marine park to a sea sanctuary.
  • The NSW Government consider applying limitations on the breeding of cetaceans which allow for breeding or conservation purposes.
  • The NSW Government consider providing financial assistance to support marine rescue and rehabilitation work in NSW.

 

FULL REPORT HERE: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2555#tab-reportsandgovernmentresponses 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

1 reaction Share

Penalties for animal abuse set to drastically increase in NSW

MEDIA RELEASE: 9 NOVEMBER 2020

BREAKING: PENALTIES FOR ANIMAL ABUSE SET TO DRASTICALLY INCREASE IN NSW

 

Following a spate of weak fines in NSW for acts of animal abuse, Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst will introduce new legislation increasing penalties for animal cruelty offences in NSW Parliament tomorrow. 

“Our tough crack down on animal cruelty has got the Government’s attention, and their support,” said Ms Hurst.

“NSW currently has some of the weakest penalties for animal cruelty in Australia. We’ve seen countless perpetrators receiving nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Recently a puppy basher received a fine of just $600, and a man who beat a mother ringtail possum to death received no fine or jail time. This has to urgently change.

“Currently an act of animal cruelty in NSW faces a maximum fine of just $5,500 and/or 6-months imprisonment. In Victoria the same act of abuse has a maximum fine of $40,000 and/or 1 year imprisonment. 

“My legislation will take New South Wales from being one of the softest states on animal cruelty, to one of the toughest. This new legislation will include mandatory minimum penalties, and an increase in maximum penalties to $55,000 and/or up to 1-year’s imprisonment for an individual act of animal cruelty.

“This legislation will also ensure that any person convicted of bestiality, or aggravated or serious animal cruelty will receive a mandatory, lifelong ban on caring for an animal,” said Ms Hurst.

As recently as September, the Government indicated it would not increase penalties anytime soon – despite having strong support from the community, RSPCA, Animal Welfare League and NSW Police to do so.

However, following Ms Hurst successfully passing a motion calling for tougher penalties in the NSW Upper House on October 21 and announcing her intention to table legislation in November, the Government has indicated they will bring in their own legislation this week, similar to that proposed by the Animal Justice Party. 

“Only after we passed our notice of motion and announced our legislation, has the Government decided to take action,” continued Ms Hurst.

“While we are yet to see a copy of Minister Marshall’s bill, we welcome the Government finally taking action on this important issue. 

“Animal cruelty is a serious, violent crime and must be punished accordingly. If the Government’s legislation does not go far enough we will seek to amend it to ensure that NSW have the toughest penalties across the country. 

“We need a ‘no tolerance’ stance to animal abuse in this state. Given the NSW Parliament will now be considering both Animal Justice Party and Government legislation on this issue, we are confident there will be major changes in this space and better protection laws for animals,” said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

1 reaction Share

Emma Hurst MP calls for a ban on horse racing after the death of Anthony Van Dyck

MEDIA STATEMENT: 3 NOVEMBER 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst is calling for an urgent ban on horse racing following the death of Anthony Van Dyck today. Anthony is the seventh horse to fall victim to the Melbourne Cup in recent years.

Please see quotes below from Emma Hurst MLC:

“Its time for this cruel and outdated industry to end. Anthony Van Dyck is the latest victim of the disgrace that stops a nation, but his tale of tragedy is all too familiar. Seven horses have died from racing in the Melbourne Cup since 2013.

“This is a brutal industry. In the last racing year 116 horses were killed on Australian racetracks. In fact, a racehorse dies in Australia every 3 days.

“How many more horses must die in this vile spectacle before something is done to stop it?

“This latest death is unacceptable. Anthony Van Dyck was only four years old. He did not deserve to die.

“Every year, more and more people are recognising that the racing industry is synonymous with animal cruelty. Its time politicians do their job to protect animals and just ban the whole vile industry.

“When gambling and animals mix, no one wins.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

1 reaction Share

Convicted dog abuser successfully reduces sentence: MP response

MEDIA STATEMENT: 15 OCTOBER 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst is calling for tougher penalties for animal cruelty in NSW, following another animal abuser successfully reducing his sentence on appeal. 

John Odah from Concord viciously beat Eiffel, the dog, by repeatedly kicking him in the head. He recorded these beatings and sent the footage to his ex-girlfriend, in a sick attempt to get revenge after finding her on a dating site. Mr Odah was originally charged with a 2 year community corrections order, banned from having a dog for 2 years and received no fine. In a damning reflection of our failing animal cruelty laws, today his sentence was reduced even further to just 11 months, and Mr Odah will be allowed another animal in less than 1 year.

 

Please see comment below from Emma Hurst MLC:

This man is a danger to the community. Today’s shocking ruling fails to recognise both the seriousness of his crimes, and the proven link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

The original sentence was already weak and did not match the severity of his crime. Mr Odah caused extreme stress, pain, suffering and anxiety to an animal in an act of violence directed at his ex-partner. Now, his sentence has been weakened even further by the courts.

The decision to let this man have another animal in his lifetime is sickening, let alone within one year. Mr Odah beat Eiffel multiple times, leaving him with engorged blood vessels in his eyes and skin ulceration. Eiffel was found by the RSPCA in a pool of his own diarrhoea. Anyone who abuses an animal must receive a lifetime ban on having an animal in their care.

This is yet another case highlighting why we need an urgent increase in animal cruelty penalties in NSW. An act of animal cruelty in NSW faces a maximum fine of just $5500. In Victoria the same act of abuse would have considered a maximum fine of $40,000. In South Australia, the maximum is $50,000. Weak penalties in NSW are failing to protect animals.

Sentences like this put all victims of domestic violence at risk by showing perpetrators they can get away with acts of extreme violence towards animals with just a slap on the wrist. Our laws must be updated to reflect the decades of research showing that violence does not discriminate. When we fail to take seriously violent acts towards animals we will never overcome violence in other areas of society.

It is unclear why the Minister for Agriculture hasn’t acted to increase penalties to ensure animals and our communities are protected from violence. With countless perpetrators of animal cruelty getting off with weak sentences just like this, tougher penalties are urgently needed.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

2 reactions Share

MP Response to new report: Up to 3 in 5 domestic violence victims report animal abuse

MEDIA STATEMENT: 27 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst is calling for urgent Government action following a report released by Women’s Safety NSW today, revealing up to three in five victims of domestic and family violence report animal abuse after a domestic violence incident.

Please see quotes below from Emma Hurst MLC:

“This report clearly highlights that urgent legislative reform is needed to protect animal and human victims of domestic violence.

“Up to three in five victims report animal abuse also occurred as part of an act of domestic violence. This isis upsetting but not surprising, especially given the plethora of research confirming a link between domes- tic violence and animal abuse. It’s time to take animal cruelty seriously.

“In domestic and family violence situations, abusers often manipulate and control others through threatened or actual violence against beloved companion animals. This report makes this link horrifyingly clear, with threats to harm animals reported by 94 percent of specialists as the most common form of abuse.

“This latest data is higher than figures seen in previous Australian studies suggesting there is still a perva- sive nature of violence in Australia. It is clear that not enough is being done to recognise and address the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

“Violence does not discriminate. If we fail to take seriously violent acts towards animals, we will never over- come violence in other areas of our society.

“The community knows our laws are failing. 92 percent of respondents reported believing that agencies in- cluding the Police and RSPCA do not have the appropriate powers to adequately deal with animal abuse in the context of domestic and family violence.

“I will continue to work on behalf of survivors and domestic violence specialists, who are calling for legisla- tive changes allowing victims to take custody of their companion animals, include animals on ADVOs, and laws that recognise the link between animal and human violence.

“We urgently need more Government funding so that emergency accommodation can also house compan- ion animals, tougher penalties to deter animal abuse, and a revision of our tenancy laws to ensure afford- able and secure rental accommodation is accessible for families to stay together with animals long-term.

“The Animal Justice Party is working towards these reforms that will protect both human and non-human victims of violence.

 

Key Data:

• Up to three in five victims of domestic and family violence report animal abuse after a domestic violence police incident.

  • Threats to harm animals by those committing domestic violence was reported by 94% of specialists as the most common form of abuse.

  • 87.5%of respondents believed the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act (NSW) should be amended to more explicitly acknowledge harm to animals as grounds for seeking an Apprehended Do- mestic Violence Order (ADVO).

  • 94% of respondents agreed the mandatory order on ADVOs should also include animals who are con- nected with the person so that they are automatically protected.

  • 92% of respondents believed enforcing and investigating agencies, including Police and the RSPCA do not have the appropriate scope of power when dealing with animal abuse to be able to account for do- mestic and family violence contexts.

 

WOMEN’S SAFETY NSW REPORT AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share

Animals in Strata: By-Law Change Last Night

MEDIA STATEMENT: 26 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst has passed a groundbreaking amendment in the NSW Upper House, stopping strata schemes from passing by-laws unreasonably preventing owners and occupiers from having companion animals.

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

There are apartment and townhouse complexes in NSW that have by-laws that prevent people from having a companion animal, and there is nothing stopping strata management from retrospectively creating restrictions for residents who already live under a strata scheme. This amendment is changing that.

My amendment will ensure stories like that of Colin and his greyhound Bu - who were living in a Bellevue Hill apartment until a sudden change to the by-laws resulted in Colin being told Bu could no longer live with him - will not occur.

Colin, who is elderly and suffering a range of health issues, was distressed and unsure what to do.  Thankfully he managed to get the support of some lawyers and the community, and after a significant media campaign, the strata scheme agreed to allow Bu to stay. But sadly, Colin’s story is not an isolated incident.

In the past few years, there have been a number of court cases seeking to challenge these by-laws.

Currently, the Strata Schemes Management Act allows owners corporations to pass by-laws which ban animals from being kept in an apartment building, unless the animal is an assistance animal.

Our amendment, which passed in the Upper House last night, provides that a by-law will have no force or effect to the extent it unreasonably prohibits having an animal in a strata complex.

This means that the strata scheme would have a legitimate basis to withhold permission for someone wanting to bring a horse into a one-bedroom apartment, but they couldn’t prevent owner occupiers from rescuing a cat.

It is unacceptable that we would require someone to have to choose between selling an apartment they own, or losing their companion animal – simply because of a by-law.

There are hundreds of thousands of healthy cats and dogs in pounds looking for forever homes- and many loving families who can provide these homes. This change in the legislation will help those families to be able to safely adopt and save a life without risking having to lose their homes.

We are a nation of animal lovers, and our state must become more companion animal friendly- this is the first step.

I am proud to say that the Legislative Council has passed my amendment, protecting the ability of humans and animals to live together securely in apartment complexes regulated by strata by-laws. The amendment will now go to the lower house before becoming law.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share

MP Response to latest data: DV and Animal Abuse

MEDIA STATEMENT: 22 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst is calling for urgent Government action following findings released by Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) yesterday regarding the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

 

Please see quotes below from Emma Hurst MLC:

Statistics just released by Domestic Violence NSW reveal the extent of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse in our state and highlight the need for urgent legislative reform.

In domestic and family violence situations, abusers often manipulate and control others through threatened or actual violence against beloved companion animals. The latest survey data collected by DVNSW reveals that among people who work in the domestic violence space, more than half have supported victims who disclosed a perpetrator killed an animal or multiple animals.

The data also reveals that support workers report up to 42% of victims delayed seeking refuge for more than a year due to concerns about companion animals and not having the resources available to flee with the animals.

This latest data is higher than figures seen in previous Australian studies suggesting there is still a pervasive nature of violence in Australia, and that not enough is being done to recognise and address the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

Violence does not discriminate. If we fail to take seriously violent acts towards animals, we will never overcome violence in other areas of our society.

We urgently need more Government funding so that emergency accommodation (such as refuges) can also house companion animals, we need tougher penalties to deter animal abuse, and we need a revision of our tenancy laws to ensure affordable and secure rental accommodation is accessible for families to stay together with animals long-term.

The Animal Justice Party is working towards these reforms that will protect both human and non-human victims of violence.

 

Findings from DVNSW: https://tinyurl.com/y3k6zvdl

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share

NSW Parliament Inquiry Could See End To The Use Of Animals In Entertainment

MEDIA RELEASE: 12 AUGUST 2020

NSW PARLIAMENT INQUIRY COULD SEE END TO THE USE OF ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

NSW is lining up to become the first state in Australia to ban the use of exotic animals in circuses, and is set to follow Victoria’s move to ban the use of dolphins in circus-style tricks. The state currently has one known travelling circus with exotic animals and one dolphinarium: Stardust Circus and Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbour.

A Parliamentary Inquiry into the exhibition of dolphins in dolphinariums and exotic animals in circuses will begin tomorrow, with Animal Justice Party MP the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC serving as Deputy Chair. Ms Hurst says this inquiry will question whether using animals for human entertainment still has a social licence, and highlight the conditions these animals are forced to endure.

“The time of lions, monkeys and dolphins in NSW being held in tiny enclosures and performing humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators is coming to an end,” said Ms Hurst.

“Using animals in circus-style tricks has lost its social licence and it’s easy to see why. A review Commissioned by the Welsh Government concluded that it is impossible for circuses to meet the behavioural and welfare needs of exotic animals. 

“Tiny, unnatural enclosures deny these animals the ability to express their natural behaviours causing the animals’ extreme stress and frustration.

“I for one am embarrassed that Australia is falling behind on the most basic animal protection laws by allowing the archaic and cruel circus industry to continue. There are 45 countries that have introduced bans or restricted the use of animals in circuses - we must be next.

“Thankfully, the last marine park in New South Wales has voluntarily elected to stop their breeding program and is considering retiring the dolphins to a sanctuary. This inquiry will provide the dolphinarium a chance to put that position to the Government and get the funding to make it a reality. 

“With no visitors and tourists to pay the bills during COVID lockdowns, there's been a push for Government hand-outs to keep these businesses open. But the money would be much better spent on retirement plans and humane sanctuaries, rather than just the continued imprisonment of these animals. 

“After so many years of allowing exploitation, it is my hope that the State Government will move their funding priorities to assist both industries to retire the animals.

“Our weak laws have failed these animals long enough. The use of animals in so-called entertainment must be banned in New South Wales,” said Ms Hurst

 

Hearings will be broadcast live to the public on the NSW Parliament website from Thursday August 13.

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share

Vale Calamity: Another Dolphin Dies In Captivity In NSW

MEDIA RELEASE: 9 JUNE 2020

VALE CALAMITY: ANOTHER DOLPHIN DIES IN CAPTIVITY IN NSW

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Calamity, the oldest dolphin held at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in New South Wales.

Calamity leaves behind her two children, Bella and Jet. Their father, Bucky, died in captivity less than one year ago.

“Two dolphins have died in captivity in Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in the past twelve months, with just three dolphins remaining at the facility. These are the last three dolphins in captivity in New South Wales,” said Ms Hurst.

“Dolphinariums are an outdated industry which is no longer supported by the community. Australians care deeply about animals and they don’t want to see dolphins forced to perform for human entertainment and live in artificial pools.

“Calamity’s children were born in captivity and, unless the Government takes action, they will die there.

“It's time for a legislated ban on breeding dolphins for entertainment, and a commitment to retire the remaining three dolphins at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park to a sea pen sanctuary.

“It is the least we can do to honour Calamity’s legacy, and give her children a better life.

“No animal should have to spend their life being held captive and forced to perform humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators. It’s time to empty the tanks,” said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share

Concern over lion's fate following Shoalhaven Zoo attack

MEDIA STATEMENT: 30th MAY 2020

CONCERN OVER LIONS’ FATE FOLLOWING SHOALHAVEN ZOO ATTACK

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has raised concerns over the future of the two lions at Shoalhaven Zoo following an attack on zookeeper Jennifer Brown yesterday. Ms Brown was mauled by two lions while she was cleaning their enclosure, leading to serious bodily injury.

Please see statement below from Emma Hurst MLC:

My heart goes out to Jennifer Brown and her family following this horrific incident, and I wish her a quick and full recovery. It’s after shocking incidents like this that we need to question the continued captivity of wild animals and the risk it poses to human life, and to the mental health and wellbeing of animals forced to live in captivity.

This is not an isolated incident. There are thousands of incidents reported worldwide in which captive animals lash out in anger and frustration after suffering years of depravation and boredom. In 2014, Shoalhaven zookeeper Trent Burton sustained serious injuries to both his hands from a crocodile attack; in 2008 Arna the elephant killed her trainer, Ray Williams, by crushing him before a performance at Stardust circus; in August 2001, lion trainer Geoffrey Lennon, was mauled by three lions during a performance.

The incident at Shoalhaven this week is yet another tragedy involving captive animals and locals are concerned the situation could become more dire, as the fate of the zoo’s two lions remains uncertain.

The Animal Justice Party is calling for the lions to be safely retired to a reputable sanctuary and for an end to all captive breeding of wild animals for so-called entertainment. Wild animals belong in the wild - and this horrific and frightening incident has only reinforced that. 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

Add your reaction Share