2nd June 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries. What steps is the Government taking to ensure that it is mandatory for all commercial piggeries and all intensive farms to have water sprinkler and remote monitoring systems in place to prevent events such as the burning to death of approximately 400 pigs on 9 April in a fire at Boen Boe Piggery near Bowral and an incident on 23 February at Grong Grong Piggery near Narrandera when 500 pigs died from heat stress due to a malfunctioning ventilation system?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The piggery fire at Joadja, which is near where I live, occurred early in my time as Minister for Primary Industries. When something like that happens near to where we live we take a particular interest in the investigation and the outcome. I place on the record my thanks to the staff of Local Land Services, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service who attended the event. As the honourable member said, a large number of pigs perished. About half died as a result of the fire and the other half were euthanased because of respiratory complications and toxicity from smoke inhalation. Cattle were also in the shed, but were released by Rural Fire Service personnel into a nearby paddock, but unfortunately one died.

    The Rural Fire Service contacted the Department of Primary Industries requesting that a representative attend the site and offer advice and assistance. The department contacted South East Local Land Services, which immediately despatched three staff to offer assistance, including a veterinarian and a senior biosecurity officer. Once the site was declared safe to enter, Local Land Services staff assisted the manager to assess and euthanase stock following a veterinary assessment. Additional Local Land Services staff were called in to assist once the scale of the stock impact was identified. Staff assessed the welfare of the remaining stock and offered support to the owner on the disposal and recovery process.

    The property is within the Sydney Water catchment area. A risk assessment has been completed in conjunction with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority, which gave approval for the owner to bury the dead animals on the site. Local Land Services staff will continue to support the owner in the recovery phase. As I indicated, I took an interest in the event because it occurred close to where I live. When I saw the communique and noticed that the incident had occurred at Joadja, I took a particular interest. In answer to the honourable member’s question about what will occur in future as a result of this experience, if I have anything further to add I will advise him and the House.

    Related story here.


    27th May 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Government aware that it supports, via a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Farmers Association, non-mandatory standards of animal welfare guidelines and standards, unlike any other Australian State or Territory?

    The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: The question contains argument.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I will allow the Hon. Mark Pearson to finish his question. Undoubtedly, the point of order is correct. But if the member concludes his question and the Minister answers the part that is in order, I will allow that on this occasion. The Hon. Mark Pearson will need to be careful not to include argument in his questions in future.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is complete: Is the Government aware that there is this memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers in relation to non-mandatory standards for animal welfare in New South Wales?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. To avoid any misapprehension about where the standards are at, it is important that I go through some information in relation to animal welfare standards, the position in New South Wales and how that fits into the national context. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines are part of a project, under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, to convert the existing model codes of practice for the welfare of animals to standards and guidelines. An important element of the strategy is to advance animal welfare by the development of nationally consistent standards for regulation.

    Standards for pig welfare and land transport of livestock have already been mandated in all States. Standards for saleyards, abattoirs and exhibited animals are currently being developed. The sheep and cattle standards have been finalised and their regulatory impact statements approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The documents have been endorsed by the national Animal Welfare Task Group for submission through the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee to the Agriculture Ministers Forum for endorsement. In accordance with a memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers, the NSW Government intends to adopt the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep as prescribed guidelines under section 34A of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. This understanding applies only to the cattle and sheep standards and guidelines, and will mean that they will not be mandatory but can be used as evidence in proceedings under the Act or its regulations.

    The welfare of animals in New South Wales, including farm animals, is protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the prevention of cruelty to animals regulation. There are already mandated requirements for cattle and sheep which focus on unacceptable practices relating to cruelty; transport; failure to provide food, drink and shelter; certain painful procedures and the use of electrical devices. Public consultation submissions have been received on the exhibited animals standards and are currently being analysed. The regulatory impact statement is being redrafted following this consultation. The review of the poultry code and its conversion to standards and guidelines will commence this year.

    The review of the requirements for rodeos is near finalisation, and the review of the requirements for pounds and shelters is underway. I will be requesting that the revitalised Animal Welfare Advisory Council provide me with advice on the review program. I conclude by highlighting for the House that I have every confidence that staff in the Department of Primary Industries take the issue of animal welfare very seriously, as do I. I have every confidence that they and my office are up to speed with what is happening within the sector. Some industry groups are looking towards their own practices and codes. We have been liaising with other States and going through the memorandums, codes and regulations which I have just described. I assure the House that this Government does take seriously the issue of animal welfare, and it has the right people on the job. It will continue to do so every day and to put the welfare of animals at the forefront.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! First, for the general guidance of all members, Standing Order 64 is quite specific about questions put to Ministers. Other members may have questions asked of them relating to any matter connected with the business on the Notice Paper of which that member has charge. Otherwise it is not in order for members to ask other members questions. Secondly, questions should seek information as opposed to opinion. Question time is for seeking information. Finally, questions must relate to matters within the Minister’s responsibility or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible. Questions may be put to Ministers relating to public affairs for which the Minister is officially connected.


    15th September 2015

    Motion by the Hon. MARK PEARSON agreed to:

    1. That this House congratulates Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, revered elder of the Yuin people on the South Coast of New South Wales, on his many years of dedicated work with the Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness Training Consultancy; and on teaching his traditional culture to thousands of people, including architects, environmentalists, Government Ministers and advisers, medical practitioners, researchers and international students; as well as presenting at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne.
    1. That this House notes that:
    1. Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison’s teachings cover the Yuin people’s Creation Dreaming; bush lore; relationship with animals, foods, healing, laws and punishment; spirituality; and the significance of relationship to land; and
    1. in passing on traditional wisdom, Uncle Max speaks with great wisdom on life, land, spirit and forgiveness.
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