Pam Clarke

Pamela (Pam) Clarke (b 1942), 'the chook woman', began in 1978 to campaign against conditions in battery farms, after her children came home upset after a school excursion. Hens were debeaked, kept in tiny cages and never saw daylight. Clarke thought once the authorities knew of the situation, it would stop. She protested to parliament, rang a bell to interrupt speakers, danced with a two-metre high hen, Battery Bertha, on the steps of Parliament House, and tried physically to free battery hens from farms. Her protests caused her to be charged more than fifty times, and she spent eight days in eight stints in Risdon Gaol.

In the late 1980s the Labor Party supported her, but when in power decided that banning battery-hen egg production was unconstitutional. In 1997 Clarke stopped protesting owing to exhaustion and fear, but in 2000 and 2002 she joined midnight raids on egg farms. Battery farms remain legal, but many Tasmanians buy free-range eggs.

Further reading: Mercury, 11 July 2000; Togatus 4, 1993.

Alison Alexander