• AJP Establishes a select committee to inquire into PoCTAA enforcement in NSW

    8th August 2019

    ANIMAL CRUELTY SELECT COMMITTEE

    Establishment

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I move:

    That private members’ business No. 111 outside the order be precedence be considered in a short form format.

    Motion agreed to.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:48): I seek leave to amend private members’ business item No. 111 outside the order of precedence for today of which I have given notice by omitting paragraph 2 (c) and inserting instead: “2. (c) three crossbench members, being Mr Banasiak, Ms Boyd and Mr Pearson.”

    Leave granted.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: Accordingly, I move:

    1.That a select committee be established to inquire into and report on the effectiveness of arrangements for the administration and enforcement of the laws of New South Wales for the protection of animals from cruelty, and in particular:

    (a)the effectiveness of the charitable organisations currently approved under section 34B of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 [“the Act”] in achieving the objects of the Act, namely:

    (i)to prevent cruelty to animals;

    (ii)to promote the welfare of animals by requiring a person in charge of an animal:

    (a)to provide care for the animal;

    (b)to treat the animal in a humane manner; and

    (c)to ensure the welfare of the animal.

    (b)the ability of the charitable organisations currently approved under section 34B of the Act (“the approved charitable organisations”) to achieve the objects of the Act, including:

    (i)the level of funding provided by government;

    (ii)perpetrator and community education about ensuring animal welfare;

    (iii)any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest between the investigation and enforcement of the Act, and one or more of the following:

    (a)commercial activities of the approved charitable organisations including corporate sponsorship;

    (b)industrial proxy membership payments or donations; and

    (c)private interests of board members, consultants, and senior staff.

    (c)the adequacy of the standard of care and kill rates for stray, surrendered or seized animals under the control or supervision of the approved charitable organisations;

    (d)whether it is effective and appropriate for non-government charitable organisations to be granted investigative and enforcement powers for criminal prosecutions under the Act, with regard to their:

    (i)capacity to exercise those investigative and enforcement powers;

    (ii)ability to exercise those investigative and enforcement powers in relation to commercial premises and intensive farm operations involving high numbers of animals;

    (iii)ability to conduct cases to test the application of legislative provisions in the Act;

    (iv)accountability to government and the community;

    (v)exemption from the provisions of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009; and

    (vi)exemption from administrative review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997.

    (e)whether any limitations and deficiencies of the administration and enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 are common to other national or international jurisdictions which use similar models;

    (f)whether the Government should establish a specialist unit to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce animal protection laws, either as part of the NSW Police Force or as a separate statutory enforcement agency; and

    (g)any other related matter.

    2.That, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the standing orders, the committee consist of seven members comprising:

    (a)three Government members;

    (b)two Opposition members, and

    (c) three crossbench members, being Mr Banasiak, Ms Boyd and Mr Pearson.

    3.That the chair of the committee be Mr Pearson.

    4.That, unless the committee decides otherwise:

    (a)submissions to inquiries are to be published, subject to the committee clerk checking for confidentiality and adverse mention and, where those issues arise, bringing them to the attention of the committee for consideration;

    (b)the chair’s proposed witness list is to be circulated to provide members with an opportunity to amend the list, with the witness list agreed to by email, unless a member requests the chair to convene a meeting to resolve any disagreement;

    (c)the sequence of questions to be asked at hearings alternate between Opposition, crossbench and Government members, in that order, with equal time allocated to each;

    (d)transcripts of evidence taken at public hearings are to be published;

    (e)the chair may make arrangements for the committee to visit and inspect sites relevant to the work of the committee, provided that the owner and/or occupier of the site, as the case requires, has given any necessary permission;

    (f)supplementary questions are to be lodged with the committee clerk within two days, excluding Saturday and Sunday, following the receipt of the hearing transcript, with witnesses requested to return answers to questions on notice and supplementary questions within 21 calendar days of the date on which questions are forwarded to the witness; and

    (g)answers to questions on notice and supplementary questions are to be published, subject to the committee clerk checking for confidentiality and adverse mention and, where those issues arise, bringing them to the attention of the committee for consideration.

    5.That the committee begin its inquiry in the third week of October 2019 and report by 2 April 2020.

    I want members to be aware that I considered seriously concerns that committee staff are overwhelmed by the existing committee workload. Therefore, this inquiry will not begin until the third week of October 2019 and will not report back until 2 April 2020.

    The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance and Small Business) (15:49): On a number of occasions the Government has clearly expressed its position regarding the establishment of select committees. The committee system is a credit to this Chamber. Having come to this place, I appreciate that it is one of the vibrant aspects of the work of this House. A strong system is already in place that is reinforced in many respects by the changes to debates about committees and the way the House operates. Establishing another select committee to conduct an inquiry that could easily be run by an existing portfolio committees strikes me as wasteful. It puts an undue burden on the staff who support the committee system. While I understand the honourable member’s intent, it appears to me that Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Industry or Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment would be perfectly capable of conducting an inquiry of this nature. With those few words, I oppose the establishment of the select committee.

    The Hon. MICK VEITCH (15:51): I lead for the Opposition in debate on the motion to establish a select committee to look into aspects of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It is important to recall that, for a range of reasons, the Labor Party went to the State election with a policy of reviewing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. I understand that within government a body of work is being undertaken on animal welfare and the like, and I expect that to continue. The former Minister is in the Chamber; he may well have some views about that but he may not be able to tell us. The reality is that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has not been properly reviewed for quite some time. I note the Minister’s comment about the committee structure that we have in this Chamber, which is—as I have said many times—an outstanding feature of this place and which assists us to do our work examining matters in detail. Whether we need another select committee is a matter for the House.

    There is an issue not just with committee staff and Hansard staff who support us in our work, but also with managing our own workloads and making sure that we are not being stretched by having too many committees. I recall the latter days of the last term of this Parliament when there were quite a few committee hearings. Members were passing each other in hallways while racing backwards and forwards to hearings. Trying to keep on top of the submissions and other committee work proved quite daunting for many of us. The Opposition supports the motion. We think it is timely to have a review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. My only concern is that this review does not go to the extent I would like and does not quite match the policy that the Labor Party announced during the election campaign when we sought a full review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. However, we will support the motion.

    The Hon. WALT SECORD (15:53): I support the motion as amended moved by Animal Justice Party member the Hon. Mark Pearson. I am part of a group of parliamentarians who are committed to the more humane treatment of animals. I believe this planet was not created just for our benefit; we are here to share this world. I believe all creatures have rights and I do not debate the matter of animal sentience. Every day we witness the capacity of animals to experience feelings such as suffering or pleasure; negative feelings or emotions, including pain, fear, boredom and frustration; and positive feelings, such as joy. Animals enrich our lives, and our engagement with them helps us to become better human beings. They also increase our general wellbeing and longevity. Sadly, animals are the only companions that some people have. Animals teach children empathy and how to care for others. For the record, I have had many spirited debates with my colleagues about puppy farms and the rights of poultry and pigs to be treated humanely. I have also attended Voiceless events in Sydney. On that note, I deeply wish that I could be vegetarian but it is not possible for me yet. But I digress.

    I note that paragraph 1 (b) of the motion canvasses charitable organisations. On that subject, members will be aware that I have a longstanding association with the Cat Protection Society of NSW, which is a charitable organisation based in Newtown. In October 2018 I was delighted to host the society’s sixtieth anniversary celebration here at Parliament House. Members will be aware that I migrated to Australia almost 31 years ago, and I have now lived here longer than I lived in Canada. My entire life on both continents has been connected to animals and enriched by them. As a child in rural Canada, I had many pets: cats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, fish and mice. In Australia I have had several dogs and cats, including a mixed‑breed dog, Sam; a tabby named Gary; and, most recently, an ex-street cat, Brutus. Sadly, they have all passed away. In fact, Brutus passed away several weeks ago and was buried in my North Bondi backyard. He was around 12.

    I delayed getting a cat after Gary died because our bond was so deep that I did not think I could ever replicate it. Luckily, I was wrong: I found Brutus. I had observed and admired the work of the Cat Protection Society of NSW for almost 25 years, so in January 2014 when I was looking for a pet I approached the society. After a rigorous screening process, I adopted Brutus. We bonded and had a deep relationship; we were well suited each other. My point is that it was a successful adoption, and I thank the Cat Protection Society staff for matching us. It was done with the care, concern and compassion that the Cat Protection Society is rightly known for. My experience with the Cat Protection Society is a testament to the value of charitable organisations in the field of animal protection. I commend the motion.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (15:56): My life is now complete knowing that the Hon. Walt Secord had a cat called Gary—hopefully after Nathan “Garry” Lyon, the great bowler. The committee proposed by this motion would duplicate, to a certain degree, what the Government is doing. The Government has agreed that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act needs to be updated; that is why it initiated the Animal Welfare Action Plan. The action plan contains six points: first, modernise the policy and legislative framework, which includes reforming all three animal welfare Acts in New South Wales and corresponding regulations, codes and standards; secondly, implement companion animal breeding practice reforms and communicate changes about new rules that apply to advertisements for the sale of dogs and cats; thirdly, improve the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement efforts, which includes reviewing animal welfare related penalties and enforcement tools; fourthly, ensure that sound research and scientific practices are used to develop policy and legislation by investing in research activities to help better understand animals and their welfare; fifthly, engage with key stakeholders and ensure that all views are respected and considered in developing policy and legislation; and, sixthly, invest in our systems and processes.

    We know that the legislation is quite outdated. We know that there is a lot that probably could be reviewed and consolidated, and that we need to look at the agencies that are responsible under the Act for the enforcement of animal welfare legislation. The Government has also said that we need to review the penalties associated with animal cruelty and, where necessary, improve them. When I said that the Government is already doing what this committee intends to do, the Hon. Mark Pearson disagreed. He is right: The Government is not doing what he wants this committee to do. We all know that the Hon. Mark Pearson wants this committee to beat up the RSPCA because he has a longstanding disagreement with that organisation about a number of animal welfare enforcement matters in this State. That is why the motion consistently mentions the charitable agencies—it is targeted directly at the RSPCA.

    We know that because when I was the responsible Minister the Hon. Mark Pearson said constantly that he wanted New South Wales police to play a greater role. I know the committee will consider the Government being an investigative agency under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. At the moment, the Government sets policy and has at arm’s length the organisations authorised under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty. This motion is nothing more than the Hon. Mark Pearson’s attempt to get back at the RSPCA. It will take up the time of the people who are seeking to overhaul the whole system. The Government agrees that something needs to be done, but it opposes the motion because staff should be getting on with the changes that are needed in New South Wales.

    Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (15:59): The Greens support this motion. I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for moving it. It is clear that the administration and enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is not meeting community expectations. I agree that members of this Chamber have a lot of committee work but I understand that efforts have been made to delay the start of this particular inquiry. I look forward to sitting in the committee inquiry and listening to experts and stakeholders tell us of their experiences about the administration and enforcement of the Act. I appreciate that a review by the Government is about to get underway. I view this inquiry as being quite useful for that process and I hope that the Government—including the Government members on the committee—use the information we gather for the purposes of that review. I welcome us getting ahead of the game when it comes to what will hopefully be some legislative reform.

    The Hon. BEN FRANKLIN (16:00): The New South Wales Government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously. The Government has made it very clear that any act of animal cruelty is directly opposed to the values that it and the New South Wales community holds. The welfare of animals is in everybody’s interest, and the Government is ensuring the right framework is in place to support best practice. This includes standing beside our animal welfare enforcement agencies to make sure they are empowered to take action when needed.

    The Government has committed to reforming the animal welfare legislation in this State—a process referred to by the former Minister the Hon. Niall Blair—which we are trying to get on with, instead of undertaking yet another inquiry into the very same thing. As the Hon. Mark Pearson is aware, a key component of our legislative reform will be looking at compliance and enforcement. The motion before the House to establish this committee will duplicate the work that this Government is already on track to do. Once again, it will pull resources away from the Government getting on with the job. I have spoken before about this kind of thing happening again and again. Matters of this kind should be examined by portfolio committees; that is what they are for. A select committee will take resources away from the Government, which is already acting on this issue.

    There is no denying that people who do the wrong thing should be punished and face fines under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. That is why we encourage members of the public to report suspected animal cruelty to one of the enforcement agencies. That is because we value the good work that our animal welfare enforcement agencies do. Inspectors from RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW have the power to lawfully investigate acts of animal cruelty and to rightly take action against people who mistreat animals.

    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides inspectors with a range of powers to address animal cruelty. This includes seizing an animal if the inspector suspects, on reasonable grounds, that the animal is in distress or if an offence against the Act or regulation is being or is about to be committed. RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW have been mainstays in the community and play a key role in promoting optimal animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. This Government will continue working with RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League NSW in their important work in enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    A memorandum of understanding has been developed between the New South Wales Government, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League of NSW. It came into effect in January 2016 and addresses how the enforcement agencies maintain appropriate separation of their general advocacy functions and their enforcement functions. As charitable organisations, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League are also required to report through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission reporting framework. This Government supports and will continue to support the role of our animal welfare enforcement agencies. The Government opposes the motion.

    The Hon. EMMA HURST (16:03): I support my colleague the Hon. Mark Pearson moving to establish this long-overdue select committee on the administration and enforcement of New South Wales laws regarding animal cruelty. With horrific stories of animal cruelty and neglect making daily headlines, and the RSPCA reporting an average of 15,000 animal cruelty complaints every year, it is clear our laws are failing animals across New South Wales. Our laws are weak and they are not being forced and cannot be enforced. There is no doubt that this inquiry will make the case for change. In practice, the NSW Police Force, the RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League can enforce the main cruelty legislation in New South Wales—the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. But, in reality, the majority of this enforcement, investigation and prosecution is done by the RSPCA NSW, which is a charitable organisation relying almost entirely on the public for the majority of its income.

    The Hon. Niall Blair: How much from Government?

    The Hon. EMMA HURST: Let me repeat. The criminal legislation that protects animals in New South Wales is enforced by a private, publicly funded charity with extremely little funding from the Government. I am not a regular donor to the RSPCA and I wonder how many members in this House are. But if your neighbour is beating a dog, do you expect the RSPCA to investigate, to house that dog, to give that dog veterinary treatment and to prosecute the person for beating that dog? If so, with what money and with what support? Is this seriously the right framework for protecting animals in New South Wales?

    We have the power in Parliament to make changes and to take action on behalf of all animal lovers across New South Wales to protect animals. I urge members to take the first step forward and support this urgent inquiry. Only then can we find out how badly our system is broken. I wonder if that is what the Government is really afraid of. The system is broken. It is failing animals and we need to find out what we need to do to fix it.

    Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE (16:05): I support the motion to establish this long-overdue review—as it has been called by other members in this debate—of the laws in this State that are meant to prevent cruelty to animals. I commend and endorse the words of my colleague Ms Abigail Boyd, who leads for The Greens on questions relating to the protection of animals. I also endorse and support the words of the Hon. Mark Pearson and the Hon. Emma Hurst in their explanations of why this inquiry is essential.

    There have been cries from Government members that there is some funding provided to the RSPCA by the Government. It is a fraction of the RSPCA’s costs. The RSPCA’s website reveals that only a tiny percentage of its funding—some 2 per cent—comes from Government. This select committee will inquire into “whether it is effective and appropriate for non-government charitable organisations to be granted investigative and enforcement powers for criminal prosecutions under the Act”. Surely that is a fair thing for the committee to look at. What other part of our criminal law that deals with cruelty and violence do we contract enforcement out to a charity?

    The reason the Government is satisfied with the existing laws and does not want this inquiry is because it is quite happy for animals to be protected by a charity, not a properly funded, separate Government investigative unit or a properly funded specialist part of the NSW Police Force. The Government is clearly out of touch with the balance of the community. Members of the community cannot believe it when I tell them that our prevention of cruelty to animals law is principally enforced by a charity and not by police. The community values animals and responds far more strongly and far more emotionally—as they should—when they see cruelty being inflicted on animals and when they see the indifference of this Government when it comes to protecting the interests of animals. This committee will also inquire into:

    (f)whether the Government should establish a specialist unit to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce animal protection laws, either as part of the NSW Police Force or as a separate statutory enforcement agency,

    Of course the committee should be inquiring about that. Members of this place should inform the community about how weak our animal protection laws are. The community knows that animals are not being protected. People want an organisation that is well-resourced and independent on the beat. The more people know that animal welfare laws are enforced by an underfunded charity, the more they will be appalled at the lack of movement by this Government and the more they will endorse this important inquiry. [Time expired.]

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:09): In reply: The Hon. Niall Blair said “arms-length”. The Government is keeping the protection of animals through criminal legislation at arms-length. Would we want children to be protected by a body that is at arms-length from the Government? Should the agencies responsible for mentally ill or vulnerable people or women subjected to domestic violence be at arms-length from the Government? The answer is no. We should be watching this matter very closely and have a department that is able to administer, investigate and prosecute under our criminal legislation where necessary. No other criminal legislation in New South Wales is administered, investigated and prosecuted at arms-length except for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979). This is not about wanting to bash up the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League or any other organisation. This is an inquiry as to the efficacy of the administration of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act—nothing more. I welcome every member’s contribution, including the cats Gary and Brutus. I commend the motion to the House.

    The ASSISTANT PRESIDENT (The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane): The question is that the motion as amended be agreed to.

    The House divided.

    Ayes23

    Noes18

    Majority5

    AYES

    Banasiak, Mr M

    Borsak, Mr R

    Boyd, Ms A

    Buttigieg, Mr M (teller)

    D’Adam, Mr A (teller)

    Donnelly, Mr G

    Faehrmann, Ms C

    Field, Mr J

    Graham, Mr J

    Houssos, Mrs C

    Hurst, Ms E

    Jackson, Ms R

    Mookhey, Mr D

    Moriarty, Ms T

    Moselmane, Mr S

    Nile, Revd Mr

    Pearson, Mr M

    Primrose, Mr P

    Searle, Mr A

    Secord, Mr W

    Sharpe, Ms P

    Shoebridge, Mr D

    Veitch, Mr M

     

    NOES

    Amato, Mr L

    Blair, Mr

    Cusack, Ms C

    Fang, Mr W (teller)

    Farlow, Mr S

    Franklin, Mr B

    Harwin, Mr D

    Khan, Mr T

    Latham, Mr M

    Maclaren-Jones, Mrs (teller)

    Mallard, Mr S

    Martin, Mr T

    Mason-Cox, Mr M

    Mitchell, Mrs

    Roberts, Mr R

    Taylor, Mrs

    Tudehope, Mr D

    Ward, Mrs N

    Motion agreed to.

     

  • INQUIRY INTO SUSTAINABILITY OF THE DAIRY INDUSTRY IN NSW

    16th November 2018

    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

     

  • SELECT COMMITTEE ON LANDOWNER PROTECTION FROM UNAUTHORISED FILMING OR SURVEILLANCE

    14th November 2018

    Adjournment Speech.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (00:20): As a member of the Legislative Council Select Committee on Landowner Protection from Unauthorised Filming or Surveillance, I thank the secretariat staff for their excellent work in identifying the pertinent evidence that assisted the committee to develop the recommendations set out its report. I also thank my colleagues on the committee for their open-minded approach to a very complex issue concerning the balancing of landholders’ rights and the public interest in preventing animal cruelty. When I was voted on to the committee The Greens were at pains to suggest that it was not in the best interests of animals for me to participate and that I would end up being a patsy for intensive farming industries intent on increasing penalties for animal activists engaged in covert surveillance. It was suggested that to participate would be to give legitimacy to the cruel but routine practices involved in intensive agriculture industries and at the same time risk demonising animal activists as domestic terrorists.

    The Greens said they would “cut me down”. That certainly did not happen. I was confident that the evidence would demonstrate that our existing animal welfare protections are so poorly enforced that animal activists feel compelled to break the law by trespassing and engaging in covert surveillance to expose cruel and illegal practices. I have been vindicated in my belief by the published recommendations of the report. The Greens criticism of my membership of the committee conveniently ignored the fact that the inquiry was going to proceed with or without input from the Animal Justice Party. I had the overwhelming support of members from the Government, Labor, the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party to be appointed to the committee. The truth is that The Greens would have happily taken the opportunity to be on the committee but it did not have the support of the other parties to do so. To save face with its supporters, it became necessary to denigrate my participation on this committee.

    As the only member in the Chamber with more than 25 years experience in animal activism, it seems obvious to me and no doubt to those members who voted for me that I would have a unique and important insight into the terms of reference and, in particular, to the motivations of animal activists who seek to obtain covert evidence of animal cruelty. Indeed, my presence on the committee ensured that relevant animal activist representatives were called to give evidence. Further, my questions helped to draw out information that led to the committee’s first three recommendations, which, if adopted by the Government, will significantly improve animal welfare outcomes. In particular, recommendation one, which states:

    That the NSW Government review the resources and powers of the RSPCA in regard to the monitoring and enforcement of animal welfare measures, and consider means by which the RSPCA and the NSW Police can work together more effectively to protect animals from mistreatment.

    Animal activists and advocates have long identified the need to improve the way in which animal protection is monitored and, in particular, improving the resources available for investigative and enforcement agencies. I have spent the past four years detailing the ongoing and systemic failures of our animal protection systems.

    Recommendation 2, that the New South Wales Government encourage animal industries to be proactive in engaging with the community and collaborate with animal industries to investigate schemes to increase transparency about food production and animal husbandry practices. I referred to the previous speeches in Hansard where I questioned whether animal industries have a licence to operate at all. Greater transparency of their operations will certainly give the public the opportunity to decide whether the industry’s treatment of farmed animals is deserving of a social licence. But most importantly, recommendation 3, that the New South Wales Government review the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 to consider whether to insert a public interest exemption for unauthorised filming or surveillance. Finally, I thank members for voting me on to the committee and by doing so acknowledging the valuable input the Animal Justice Party would bring to this vexed and contentious area of public policy.

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