Documents recently obtained by the ABC reveal extensive allegations of animal cruelty at Murrayfield Station on Bruny Island, Tasmania. Despite the conclusion of Tasmania’s Primary Industries that there was adequate evidence to prosecute for animal cruelty, it chose instead to issue an infringement notice for $280.00. In an interview with the ABC’s News Sunday program, Panel Chair, Joana Fuller, slammed the failure to prosecute as a ‘disgrace’.
Murrayfield is run by the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Land Corporation. In 2014 a 96 page report documenting these allegations was provided by a former employee to Tasmania’s Primary Industries Department. Officers from the Department attended the station to investigate the allegations.
On 30 July 2014 during a random inspection at Murrayfield officers found a paralysed sheep and they were told it had been accidentally run over the previous day. Instead of providing veterinary treatment or euthanizing the sheep, it was left in a paddock overnight without shelter in heavy rain and driving wind. It was concluded by the Department that failure to promptly euthanize caused the sheep to suffer unjustifiable pain and suffering for an extended period of time.
The Department also concluded that “…there is adequate evidence against [a relevant individual] as well as the ILC, to lodge a complaint in a magistrates court for the matter to be heard as an ‘animal cruelty’ case…” Instead the Department issued an infringement notice to ILC for $280.00 and took no action against the individual.
Panel Chair, Joana Fuller, was interviewed by the ABC regarding the allegations. She said there was no excuse not to have prosecuted the matter in court, particularly in light of the fact that the penalties which could be imposed by a court for such a serious breach included hefty fines and imprisonment.
“The decision to issue an infringement notice rather than to prosecute in court was quite frankly a disgrace. It is well known that infringement notices are reserved for technical breaches which occur in circumstances where there are extenuating or mitigating factors and this is plainly not an example of that.”
MP Andrew Wilkie said the response was not good enough and has called for the Federal Government to launch an investigation into claims of animal cruelty at Murrayfield. He said the initial investigation was inadequate and wants both the Federal and State Government to launch a new probe.