News & Media: NSW Minister for Primary Industries and RSPCA chief challenged to public debate over decision to drop Wally’s Piggery charges

NSW Minister for Primary Industries and RSPCA chief challenged to public debate over decision to drop Wally’s Piggery charges

By Aussie Farms
Tue 16 December 2014, 12:00am
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The RSPCA and the NSW Government must publicly explain why charges were dropped against the owner of a southern NSW piggery, despite overwhelming evidence of abject animal cruelty, animal rights group Aussie Farms said today.

Aussie Farms’ Executive Director Chris Delforce has challenged RSPCA NSW chief executive officer Steve Coleman and Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson to a public debate over the decision to drop all 53 charges against the owners of the now-defunct Wally’s Piggery, located at Murrumbateman near Canberra, and the related announcement of new legislation targeting activists.

The RSPCA dropped the case against the piggery’s owners Valent (Wally) Perenc, Stephanie Perenc, and their financial backer WSL Investments Pty Ltd, in November.

The RSPCA issued a public statement about the case at the time, but failed to explain why it had been abandoned. The statement blamed activists for the failure of the case, and was allegedly edited by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) prior to its release.

The statement claimed that video footage documenting the cruelty within the piggery had been provided to the media prior to the authorities, when this has been proven to be untrue. However, in the same statement, the RSPCA’s Steve Coleman admitted the footage was irrelevant to the case, which had been built around the RSPCA’s own inspections of the piggery.

Following the dismissal, Minister Hodgkinson announced her intention to introduce new “biosecurity” legislation that would effectively prevent cases of animal cruelty ever again reaching the Australian public. The legislation echoes controversial ag-gag laws already in effect in parts of the United States, and is a response to a campaign by Aussie Farms and Animal Liberation that has seen cruelty exposed in 34 piggeries and several slaughterhouses across Australia.

Mr Delforce issued Minister Hodgkinson and Mr Coleman with the challenge to a debate about the Wally’s Piggery decision and the proposed laws at a public rally in Canberra on Saturday.

The rally and a separate protest in Sydney, attracted hundreds of people concerned about the RSPCA’s failure. Speakers demanded the RSPCA be stripped of its powers of investigation and prosecution if it was no longer capable of fulfilling its animal protection charter.

 “Katrina Hodgkinson is attempting to use the Wally’s Piggery case against animal rights groups, and against members of the public, who are concerned about gross mistreatment of animals within the livestock industries,“ Mr Delforce said.

“Minister Hodgkinson and the livestock industries she represents are using contrived concerns over biosecurity and ‘animal welfare’ to ensure that evidence, like the abhorrent cruelty witnessed at Wally’s Piggery or at numerous other facilities across the country, never again reaches the Australian public.

“Rather than standing up to the Government and the livestock industry, RSPCA NSW is not only letting them get away with disgraceful practices, but is publicly supporting this new legislation for fear of losing their inspection powers – powers that have now effectively been rendered useless.

“I am challenging both Minister Hodgkinson and Mr Coleman to put those arguments to the test,” he said.

“They must explain and defend their decision to withdraw the case against Wally Perenc, a decision that leaves him free to start up his appalling operation again.

“Minister Hodgkinson and Mr Coleman must also explain and defend to the people of NSW their rationale for introducing US-style ag-gag. Minister Hodgkinson must further explain and defend why she has allegedly been threatening RSPCA, the NSW Police and the Animal Welfare League with a loss of powers should they attempt to prosecute farmers for animal cruelty.

“It is imperative that the public hears the truth from the NSW government and the RSPCA, that they answer to growing concern about their intentions to silence whistleblowers and impose draconian penalties on anyone who attempts to expose animal abuse, while those responsible for the abuse are left alone to continue entirely unscrutinised.”

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