In the cover story of our March 5 edition, titled "Getting a handle on mulesing", wool growers were warned by one of their own that they better speak up if they want to retain mulesing.
Tom Kirk of Bundemar stud, Condobolin, said if sheep breeders and woolgrowers wanted to retain mulesing, they needed to give their opinion and feedback to Australian Wool Innovation.
"There had been and still was a big push at policy level for mandatory pain relief at mulesing. But then the next step could be banning mulesing altogether. If you want to protect mulesing, then you'll need to be vocal about it," he said.
Mr Kirk's comments are increasingly valid amid the context of Animal Justice Party MLC Mark Pearson's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animals Procedures) Bill 2019.
After the Upper House voted 17:17, the Bill was referred to an inquiry, now well under way. There are only two more weeks for the public to respond to the online survey that will contribute to the inquiry's findings (see p60 for more detail).
The detail of this Bill has potential to significantly affect farm animal husbandry (not just mulesing).
Also read:Threat of mulesing ban in NSW
Among that detail was a proposed end date for mulesing of January 1, 2023.
If re-submitted (Mr Pearson can re-submit the Bill any time between now and the next general election), the Bill will still have to make it through the Lower House before it is legislated, but given the Upper House voted on it 17:17 the first time through, any tweaks from here on in could see it easily progress.
While Mr Pearson appears unwilling to drop the ban on mulesing, the inquiry may recommend options like a longer lead-in time for his ban on mulesing, for example, increasing it from the current two years (i.e. the January 1, 2023, deadline to cease mulesing) to five years.
If re-introduced with such a tweak, this could be enough to get one or two more votes across the line, and with the mandatory pain relief segment of his bill still potentially remaining intact, it could see NSW heading down the same path as Victoria, but with a deadline for the banning of mulesing also in tow.
It would only take a couple of leafy-green suburbs Liberals to cross the floor and help a modified mulesing Bill through.
The online survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J3DYNYT
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