NSW parliament unanimously supported a motion put forward by MLC Mark Pearson, of the Animal Justice Party, last month, which calls on the woolgrowers to breed sheep to be resistant to flystrike and in the interim, provide pain relief to sheep when mulesing.
“This motion is not about condemning the industry; it is about moving the industry forward,” Mr Pearson said.
“This will cause a serious blight, risk and liability to the wool industry in Australia if we do not give an absolute guarantee to wool buyers we will make pain relief mandatory.”
Australian Wool Growers Association director Charles Olsson, Animal Liberation NSW chief executive Lynda Stoner and campaign director Emma Hurst attended the parliamentary debate. The motion was supported by the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party, the Nationals and the Greens.
Labor MP Mick Veitch acknowledged growers’ efforts to breed sheep which were less susceptible to flystrike.
“This will take time and it cannot be done in one breeding cycle,” he said.
“It took time to breed wrinkles into sheep and it will take time to breed them out to get rid of flystrike.”
Despite acknowledging a lack of consistent market premium paid for non-mulesed wool, Mr Veitch said regulatory enforcement of pain relief needed to be debated.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said if the House had not dealt with the issue intelligently, “it may have deteriorated into an argument that mulesing is bad, but flystrike is worse”.
“(Woolgrowers) must supply a high quality natural product that is produced in accordance with the highest ethical and humane standards,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“A secure future for the Australian wool industry means doing away with mulesing in its entirety – this includes using anesthetics.
“If it is to have an economical and humane future, it must focus on breeding sheep that are resistant to flystrike so that the practice of mulesing does not take place.”
WoolProducers Australia president Richard Halliday said many growers had voluntarily embraced the use of pain relief during surgical procedures.
“We are very supportive of people making the best choice for animals in regard to welfare. I think more people are using pain relief than we realise so this is why it’s valuable to fill out the national wool declaration so it is evident how many growers are using pain relief.”
See editorial p22