Piggery incidents before parliament

IT has been claimed the recent actions of activists at local piggeries has resulted in the deaths of some 30 piglets.

Member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson was the bearer of this news when she raised the issue, under parliamentary privilege, in state parliament last Thursday.

Ms Hodgkinson told her political counterparts that staff at Blantyre Farms had confirmed the intrusion of the animal rights advocates had resulted in the deaths of the young animals.

“The potential compromise of the farm’s biosecurity measures is unforgivable,” she added.

Ms Hodgkinson told Parliament she had been contacted by Blantyre Farms owner, Edwina Beveridge, after hidden cameras were uncovered at the Murringo Road piggery - a story highlighted in The Witness on June 10, 2013.

Mrs Beveridge has advised Ms Hodgkinson, the NSW primary industries minister, that Young police have the names and details of the offenders, “but they have told me they do not have enough evidence to prosecute them.”

“These people are not about animal welfare; they have broken our quarantine rules, put our whole herd at risk of disease and unsettled our pigs in their midnight visits,” Mrs Beveridge had told the minister. 

“These people need to be stopped, there needs to be reasonable punishment for them breaking into our sheds, illegally filming our pigs and staff,” she pleaded.

Parliament was also told that while Animal Liberation NSW had confirmed its members were responsible for the incident, Mrs Beveridge had been vilified on their Facebook page after she publically complained.

“It is interesting to speculate how the people who heaped abuse on Mrs Beveridge would feel if they were the target of criminal trespass because of the radical vegan views that they hold and espouse,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

She said industry experts advised her that video footage of another piggery at Young depicting pigs “screaming”  would not have occurred if the animals had not been provoked in some way.

In raising her concern at the implications of their actions, Ms Hodgkinson said, “they are willing to break the law, trespass on other people’s properties, run the risk of spreading animal disease by breaking biosecurity protocols, cause needless death to young animals as collateral damage, and stage manage their own videos by provoking fear in animals to get good footage,” she said.

While the local incidents are still under police investigation, Ms Hodgkinson said she would be raising them with the attorney general.

Animal Liberation executive director Mark Pearson asked if pigs died, “where is the proof – who’s to say this isn’t the result of overlay in farrowing crates – where’s the vet report to say this occurred?”

He said the activists did not access the shed on May 12.

“They became aware as they were approaching the shed that they were being hunted – who’s to say the people who were chasing the activists themselves didn’t cause the problem?”

“Where are the photos, documents to prove it?” he asked.

He said all activists involved with Animal Liberation adhered to strict bio-security regulations.

“They wear the right clothing and their shoes are disinfected,” he said.

He also warned Blantyre Farms, “to be very careful.”

“Four and a half weeks of vision sent to Animal Liberation from that place are being studied by veterinarians,” he said.

And a warning too for Ms Hodgkinson who Mr Pearson says, “needs to have a think about what she is saying”.

“Under her watch Wallys Piggery near Yass was closed, an abattoir [Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors] was shut down for three months and faced tens of thousands on dollars in fines after incidences of animal cruelty were revealed by activists and just last month Animal Liberation obtained vision of workers apparently bashing and kicking turkeys at a major poultry processor on the outskirts of Sydney,” he said.

“The public presumption of regulation, operations and monitoring of these places is seriously coming into question,” Mr Pearson said.

“No-one knew about these violations until we got cameras in – it didn’t come from her inspections,” he said.

He has suggested Ms Hodgkinson and Animal Liberation get together and find a better way for intensive agriculture facilities to be monitored.

“Mandatory CCTV cameras would be a better way to handle it than a temper tantrum about cruelty to animals,” he said.

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