Hawkesbury Council - Please Stand Up to Cruelty and Cancel 'Bikes and Bulls'
To Whom It May Concern,
I write to express my concern regarding the ‘Bikes and Bulls’ event scheduled to take place at the Hawkesbury Showgrounds on Saturday, 14 January, 2017.
In line with council’s Community Engagement Policy (policy no. PEB0002Z adopted June 2007), specifically s.2 (‘Objectives’), I wish to voice my concerns as they relate to the nature of the scheduled event. This falls under the meaning of the defined term ‘engagement’ in the aforementioned Policy, and I wish to express my acceptance and appreciation of the inclusion of a provision therein explicitly declaring ‘community engagement’ to be a foundational element of council’s governance procedure and policy.
The scheduled event utilises a number of animals in providing entertainment to ticketholders. Necessarily, the inclusion and use of animals for human entertainment purposes poses a variety of serious threats to the welfare of those animals so used. Whilst the NSW Code of Practice for animals used in rodeo events explicitly forbids and prohibits, by law, the commission of acts that may result in cruel treatment or the infliction of pain and suffering to nonhuman animals, the event poses a number of serious risks to this stated objective. It is noted that the animals so used may be subjected to a number of stresses “which may have cumulative effects”. This necessarily includes “unfamiliar surroundings, noises and sensations,” as well as the “use of rodeo equipment” (Code, s.1.2). Here, I draw attention to the use of vehicles and fireworks as seen at previous ‘Bikes and Bulls’ events (reference is to imagery and descriptions provided by the Hawkesbury Gazette, ‘Bikes, bulls and fireworks…’). Whilst it is accepted that the use of fireworks is prohibited from use while animals are present in the arena (Code, 4.16), there is no provision relating to the use of motorised vehicles (i.e., motorbikes) under similar circumstances. I call on Hawkesbury Council to address this pressing welfare issue, as outlined in the Code, as a matter of urgency, and request that Council treat this in line with the adopted Community Engagement Policy.
As this relates to my current concern viz. ‘Bikes and Bulls,’ the direct mention of ‘inclusiveness’ in council policy and the provision therein relating to an assurance of recognition for “all affected parties” presumes that the ‘Complaints Policy’ (policy no. PAR0024Z) assures both access to council for the purposes of lodging a complaint and assurance that this process will be both accepted and conducted in a manner understandable to community stakeholders. This relates to the provision of reciprocity between council and community stakeholders as laid out in council’s Community Engagement Policy and the provision therein allowing for “informed comment/response” (‘Expectations & Obligations’). The provided outcome(s) in relation to this provision are addressed via an assurance of collaboration with stakeholders to “ensure that concerns + issues are reflected in alternatives developed”.
Whilst it appears that the issue of which this correspondence is concerned with, ‘Bikes and Bulls,’ may fall under the matrix of ‘Low level of impact’ provided under the ‘Possible Triggers – Community Engagement’ table included in the Community Engagement Policy, it is an event that, due to the nature and potential of high degrees of harm associated, must be addressed transparently and with the stated ethos of inclusivity.
There can be no adequate or reasonable justification for the use of animals for entertainment purposes. As the scheduled event is to take place on Council land (‘the Hawkesbury Showground,’ 40 Racecourse Rd, Richmond), it is expected that the ethics and risk of serious threats to welfare will be adequately, reliably, and transparently addressed. For these reasons, I respectfully ask that members of Hawkesbury Council consider the concerns outlined above.