• AN ENVIRONMENTAL AND ANIMAL WELFARE DISASTER AT MENINDEE LAKES

    Mismanagement of Minindee Lakes has caused an environmental and animal welfare disaster.  The continual draining of the lakes system has caused immeasurable suffering and damage.  The reason given for draining the lakes is that “the lakes evaporate naturally, so why not just take the water and push it down stream”.  The problem with this scenario is that the environment around the lakes rely on the evaporation to sustain the flora and fauna.  Mark witnessed this first hand in November last (2018), when he travelled to the area to see for himself the hundreds of dead emus around the edge of Cawndilla Lake.  As there was still water in the lake but the emus  had no body weight, it would appear the emus died of starvation.  The lakes also provide sanctuary and safety from the drought for the large fish populations.  If we don’t fix this, large areas around the lakes will become a dust bowl.  If this was to happen, dust storms over the East coast of Australia could become the norm.

    Mark was recently interviewed on radio station 2GB.

     

     

  • INQUIRY INTO SUSTAINABILITY OF THE DAIRY INDUSTRY IN NSW

    One of Mark Pearson’s responsibilities (and a privilege) is to sit on the Legislative Council’s “Industry and Transport” Committee.  Recently the Committee conducted an inquiry into the sustainability of  dairy in NSW.  This gave Mark the opportunity to ask questions regarding intensive dairies, bobby calves and whether the dairy industry has considered transitioning to plant based milks.

    INQUIRY INTO SUSTAINABILITY OF THE DAIRY INDUSTRY IN NSW

    16 November 2018

     

    Mr Greg McNamara – Acting CEO and Chairman, Norco Cooperative

     

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: If you were to step back and view the dairy industry objectively, its viability and, as you said, the current lack of good leadership, and also climate change and Australia’s environment, has Norco or the dairy industry ever considered moving away from animal-based milk towards plant-based milk using the same properties that are thriving, or not thriving in this case? Have you considered that it might be wise to move towards a plant-based milk industry—although I do not think we can use that term legally? The plant-based market is flourishing.

    Mr McNAMARA: We sell plant-based milks. If a customer wants a plant-based product, we can provide it. We are not opposed to plant-based products, but the definitive answer is that we have not encouraged farmers to plant pecan or almond trees to offer those products.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: We are hearing that the dairy industry is in crisis. Would that be wise advice? Obviously Norco has not turned its mind to that.

    Mr McNAMARA: It is about a diversity of income streams that allows farmers to spot. The reality is that Norco would not survive under that model because not enough consumers have moved down that path. There is an increasing number of people who would prefer to drink a plant-based product, and that is fine. But it is not a big enough industry to support 200 farmers at this time. That evolutionary process may take 10 years to 15 years. Planting trees and harvesting the plant-based material may take a significant amount of time.

     

    Mr Colin Thompson – Vice Dairy Chair, NSW Farmers

     

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Mr Thompson, you were talking about what you did personally, but I think it might be a good example. You packed up from the coast and moved to Cowra and invested in a dairy there, at a time when the dairy industry’s future was in question as being a viable economy for anybody who was investing. Is that a risk that other dairy farmers are taking? How did you assess that risk?

    Mr THOMPSON: Everyone saw deregulation in a different way. I saw it as an opportunity. Under regulation we had a quota system but those quota systems tied up a lot of capital on dairy farms. Under deregulation we had our compensation package. Some farmers chose to take that compensation and exit the industry with dignity. I still saw potential in the dairy industry, and particularly inland New South Wales. And so I chose to relocate to Cowra in the central west and start a new facility, start a completely different style of dairy farming to the traditional pasture-based farming, a free stall dairy.

    Since that time, probably during that time, some of the issues that I came up against were, it took seven years to get approval. There were three court cases in the Land and Environment Court. It really highlighted the lack of planning in New South Wales for dairy farms inland. Since that time, we have developed a completely new system. We regularly have other farmers visiting our system. I had to go offshore. I had to go to the United States to get expertise to learn how to develop this new system. It is a system that has great potential to grow and make our New South Wales industry more sustainable.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Is it an intensive system?

    Mr THOMPSON: It is an intensive system, absolutely. Yes, there was a risk. I do remember going to four banks to get finance. Three of them said no, and one said, “Yes, I will give it a go.” So I went. Still there.

     

    Mr Scott Hansen – Director General, NSW Dept of Primary Industies

    Mr Alex Russell – Manager Intensive Livestock, NSW Dept of Primary Industries

     

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Mr Hansen, you said that when there have been situations in areas where there has been an oversupply of milk it has had a critical effect on the pricing. But then you said that because of integration it has taken the valve off that particular problem in that area where there is an oversupply. Can you explain how that has happened?

    Mr HANSEN: I guess that that is just a reflection of the fact that, with our hygiene standards, our food transport standards, and the logistics changes that are now in place fresh milk is not as geographically isolated as it once was. It is hence able to be transported to fill holes in other markets if their supply is in some—

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Right. That has clarified it. Mr Russell, at what point does a typical dairy become an intensive dairy, and what factors are brought to bear on a dairy to move in that direction?

    Mr RUSSELL: Thank you for the question. I think it is quite difficult to define a particular dairy as being intensive or otherwise. I guess the thing about dairying is that it requires a really high level of management input. For me that is what defines it as an intensive production system—the fact that it requires that high level of management input. There are different production systems in Australia. Some of those involve what we call a partial mixed ration production system or a total mixed ration production system. That reflects how much time the animals spend on pasture compared to being fed from a trough, say. But, really, I see it as an intensive industry because of that high level of management input that makes it quite challenging.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: It is not because of the amount of space—the stocking density—it is more a matter of the intensity of the work by people. That is how—

    Mr RUSSELL: That is my view. And the inputs that are provided. So the less time the animals spend on pasture the more there is a requirement to cut and conserve forage and bring that to the cattle or to spend money on buying inputs—grain and fodder.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I think there was a period of time—I do not know whether we are still doing it as much—where we were exporting dairy cattle as breeding stock, mainly to Asia and I think perhaps to the Middle East. Is that continuing. If it is, is it having an impact on the economics of the dairy industry in Australia, in terms of our exports of dairy?

    Mr HANSEN: Not at the same rates as in previous years but there continues to be a high-end value dairy heifer air shipment into Asian markets that are looking to grow their own genetics and their own herds. Some of the speakers after us might be better placed to talk on that front. What we are seeing, though, is a significant increase in the integration between dairy operations and the meat operations in terms of the opportunity to supply calves into beef production systems. That is largely because we have seen, exacerbated by the last 12 months, a significant reduction in the national herd whilst there is incredible demand for meat globally, continuing to grow.

    Dairy farmers, while focusing on the purpose of producing milk, obviously have opportunities with the animals they are producing in terms of the meat industry as well as the fodder they are producing in terms of that fodder being a potential source of income if they are able to produce surplus to requirements. In the last 12 months that has not been the case. Dairy farmers are very good at looking at that business integration and looking how they maximise the resources they have available to them to make their businesses as sustainable as possible.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: So, the export of dairy breeding stock is not having a serious impact on the economics of the dairy industry nationally, as opposed to—

    Mr HANSEN: The alternative sources of income into our farm monitor project figures suggest that it is not a significant driver in terms of the profitability. However, that fails to take into account that for certain businesses at certain times that could well have been a defining moment, or an opportunity that has enabled them to earn income that otherwise they would not have been able to. So for individual businesses you can only assume that there are some that are very thankful and have been reliant upon that additional income source, but when you look at it collectively it is a small proportion in terms of farm-gate income.


    The final report can be read here:

    https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/inquiries/2514/Report%20No%2051%20-%20Sustainability%20of%20the%20dairy%20industry%20in%20NSW.pdf

     

  • Greyhound

    REQUEST FOR GREYHOUND RACING INDUSTRY STATISTICS ON REHOMED NUMBERS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:12): My question is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, representing the Hon. Paul Toole, Minister for Racing. The New South Wales Government subsidises the greyhound racing industry to the tune of millions of dollars per year and the industry makes all sorts of promises to improve greyhound welfare. Despite this, I have been unable to locate any statistics that provide figures on the numbers of retired greyhounds re-homed in the previous 12 months or ascertain what plans the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission has to improve the number of greyhound adoptions going forward. With the Minister provide this information?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (15:13): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for the question he has asked of me representing the Minister for Racing, the Hon. Paul Toole. It is an important question, particularly when we talk about the rehoming of greyhounds. I have certainly seen plenty of anecdotal evidence on that and I know many people who have rehomed greyhounds as pets. I believe that even some family members of the Acting President, the Hon. Trevor Khan, may have rehomed greyhounds as pets. I know that anyone who has taken in as a pet a greyhound that has been rehomed after finishing its life in the racing industry has been happy with the decision. They are placid dogs that fit easily into many homes. We want to see more and more of that.

    As Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister responsible for the prevention of cruelty to animals legislation in this State, I want to make sure that we have as many greyhounds as possible enjoying a life of comfort and love in people’s homes. Their welfare is something that we are definitely concerned about and I believe it was adequately addressed in the Government’s response to the issues highlighted when the greyhound issue surfaced. The member has asked for data. Obviously I do not have that information here today but I am happy to take the question on notice, refer it to the Minister and come back to the member with a detailed answer in due course.

     

    To date we have received no reply from the Minister’s Department.

     

  • Animals and war

    “THE MAN HE KILLED” BY THOMAS HARDY

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (11:06): I move:

    (1)That this House commends the works of Thomas Hardy, poet and author who:

    (a)was born near Dorchester in 1840 into a stonemason’s family; and

    (b)became renowned for his poetry and novels critiquing the social mores of Victorian and Edwardian England.

    (2)That this House notes that Thomas Hardy’s poem The Man He Killed:

    (a)reflects upon the senselessness of two strangers engaging in mortal combat on a battlefield; and

    (b)for reasons unexplored, and in acknowledgement that had they met outside the arena of war, they would likely have shared a drink together in friendship.

    (3)That this House, in honour of the centenary of the World War I armistice:

    (a)contemplates the folly and tragedy of sending humans and animals to war; and

    (b)considers the words of Hardy’s poem:

    Had he and I but met

    By some old ancient inn;

    We should have sat us down to wet

    Right many a nipperkin!

    “But ranged as infantry;

    And staring face to face;

    I shot at him as he at me;

    And killed him in his place.

    “I shot him dead because—

    Because he was my foe;

    Just so: my foe of course he was;

    That’s clear enough; although

    “He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps;

    Off-hand like—just as I—

    Was out of work—had sold his traps—

    No other reason why.

    “Yes; quaint and curious war is!

    You shoot a fellow down

    You’d treat if met where any bar is;

    Or help to half-a-crown.”

    Motion agreed to.

     

     

  • WARRAGAMBA DAM WALL RAISING – EFFECTS ON WILDLIFE BY PURPOSELY FLOODING PARTS THE NATIONAL PARK

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:13): My question is directed to theMinister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry. As the Minister responsible for animal welfare, what is his response to a Sydney Morning Herald article of 13 November that relied on an Office of Environment and Heritage report, which revealedthat the Government’s plans to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam would have adverse impacts on threatened species, such as the regent honeyeater and eastern brown tree creeper, as well as Sydney’s last emus. Given the Minister’s responsibilities underthe Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, what is his department planning to do to prevent individual animals suffering as a result of the flooding of downstream habitat?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:15): I thank the honourable member for his question. I think he is drawing a very long bow in trying to attach this question to my portfolio. The member is suggesting that flooding events somehow should be investigated and potentially prosecuted under the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals Act—POCTA Act—that is administered by my agencies, with the policy work also enforced by the police, the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA. That is a long bow. It suggests that natural events such as flooding should be investigated by the RSPCA because it may endanger some native animals. That is what the member is saying. It is absolutely ridiculous. The member must have run out of ideas in the last week of Parliament. Surely he has questions about other areas of my portfolio. This a long bow at the very least.

    I do not imagine anyone in the agencies that enforce the POCTA Act would take seriously any suggestion that any flooding that happens in the Hawkesbury Valley should warrant an investigation under the POCTA Act. At this stage, I am happy to say that I am not aware of any work that my agency has done in relation to how this impacts on the POCTA side of my portfolio. The member referred to the Office of Environment and Heritage, which is the agency that is possibly responsible for some of the animals in the national park. But when it comes to cruelty to animals, we move to the POCTA Act. I do not think there is anything that my agency could be doing at this stage, particularly as we are only talking about environmental assessments of potential impacts of raising the dam wall. I am quite confident to suggest that, as far as I am aware, no work is being undertaken by my agencies under the POCTA Act.

    This is a very long bow. The question may have been better directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment. Possibly the Office of Environment and Heritage has looked at some of the impacts on some of the native wildlife. But the member has asked the question of me and, under the responsibility of the POCTA Act, I say that I am not aware of any work that is being done by my agencies in relation to this matter at this time.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:18): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate how his portfolio of animal protection does not include the impacts upon wild animals when a government makes a decision to cause the flooding of an area that will impact those wild animals?

    The Hon. Scott Farlow: Point of order: The supplementary question asked by the Hon. Mark Pearson did not seek an elucidation of the Minister’s answer; it is a new question.

    The Hon. Penny Sharpe: To the point of order: I listened very carefully. The Minister’s answer included discussion about whether it was forced flooding or natural flooding. I believe the Hon. Mark Pearson has asked for elucidation in relation to that particular aspect of the Minister’s answer. As such, the question is in order.

    The PRESIDENT: I will allow the supplementary question. It is in order. I remind the Minister that he can answer the question in any way he deems fit.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:19): All my answers are fit. When we talk about flooding, whether it is the result of someone’s actions—

    The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The Clerk will stop the clock. As members are well aware, rulings by past Presidents permit members to read extracts from documents. Those rulings are well regarded. It is also well known that members are not permitted to use props in the Chamber. I advise members that flashing a newspaper page in the air and pointing to something on the page is not deemed to be reading an extract from the paper but is, in my view, using a prop. Members will be called to order if they undertake such actions. The Minister has the call.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Regardless of whether an animal is impacted from flooding as a result of someone’s action or inaction, I do not see the correlation between that and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is like saying that if animals are impacted by an out-of-control fire the RSPCA, under its legislation, should investigate to hold those responsible to account. If the Hon. Mark Pearce has some legal advice that is contrary to my assessment, I would love to see it. I believe the question should have been directed to the Office of Environment and Heritage, which is better placed to look at this issue.

    Through the assessment process of this project and the environmental impact statement, I am sure that the impacts on wildlife, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the national park will be looked at. I do not believe it should be investigated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. As I said, if the member has anything that will convince me otherwise, I will be more than happy to look at it. As I stand here, I do not have any indication that his information is any different from my answer. The Hon. Mark Pearce should have directed the question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment.

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