• 12/08/2015: Question Without Notice, Kangaroo Management Plan

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Ageing, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of any parliamentary oversight and review in the past 20 years to determine whether the New South Wales kangaroo management plans have provided for the sustainable and humane treatment of kangaroos, including their joeys? If not, will the Minister establish a committee to examine these issues prior to the development of the New South Wales Kangaroo Management Plan to commence in 2016, especially considering that Russia has implemented three consecutive bans on imports over the past seven years based on serious hygiene and welfare concerns, and that there are now four European countries considering bans of kangaroo meat?

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I have not been here for the last 20 years, so it is a little difficult. I have been in this Parliament for about eight years. There are parts of the question I will take on notice and refer to the Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, and Assistant Minister for Planning. I am informed that the Commonwealth Department of Health has recorded only one incident of a food-borne illness involving kangaroo. That is based on data collected Australia wide between 2001 and 2012. This one incident affected seven people in the Northern Territory and did not involve commercially harvested product.

    All kangaroo game meat processed, manufactured or sold in New South Wales must comply with the Australian Standard for Hygienic Production of Game Meat for Human Consumption. The New South Wales Food Authority licenses kangaroo harvesters and processors in New South Wales, and those facilities must be able to show traceability of product throughout the chain, from harvest to the plate. Government authorities, including the New South Wales Food Authority, regularly inspect game meat processing facilities, field depots and harvesters. The authority’s audit and inspection program ensures that kangaroo harvesters, chillers and processors comply with the food safety requirements set out in the specific food safety program that each business is required to have. This process provides a comprehensive assessment to ensure the business is operating its food safety program and that the program covers all aspects of food safety.

    I am further informed that the minimum inspection frequency varies for different types of facilities. Harvesters are inspected once every two years, chillers are inspected once per year, processors are inspected once per year, and export processors are inspected once every six months. Despite the differences in inspection frequency, the authority requires all harvesting and processing facilities to consistently meet food safety standards. Additional inspections and appropriate enforcement action are taken in response to any breach, and the authority follows up these results to ensure identified defects have been rectified. In the period November 2013 to November 2014, inspections show that the New South Wales kangaroo industry had a compliance record of 97 per cent, with just two facilities showing an unacceptable result.

    As kangaroos are native fauna, the Office of Environment and Heritage manages the commercial harvesting program to ensure kangaroos are culled humanely and that kangaroo populations are sustainable. Requirements for the humane slaughter of kangaroos are specified in the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos for Commercial Purposes, and this code of practice is prescribed as a condition of licence by the Office of Environment and Heritage.

    Hansard link – HERE

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: On 12 August 2015 the Hon. Mark Pearson asked me a question about a kangaroo management plan. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

    I am advised as follows:

    • There have been no parliamentary inquiries on the sustainable and humane treatment of kangaroos in New South Wales in the past 20 years.
    • Sustainability of the kangaroo population is the responsibility of both State and Federal governments. Sustainability is ensured through population monitoring and harvesting quotas.
    • All kangaroos must be harvested in accordance with the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes. The code includes requirements for the humane treatment of joeys.
    • Export of kangaroo products is a matter for the Australian government.

    Hansard link – HERE

  • 11/08/2015: Question Without Notice, Sow Stalls

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. Given that members of the Australian pork industry are committed to phasing out sow stalls—a metal cage in which gestating sows can take only one step forward or back and not turn around—by 2017, will the Government legislate to outlaw the use of sow stalls so that all piggeries in New South Wales are mandated sow stall free?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Gestation stalls, also known as sow stalls, are a form of accommodation used to confine sows during their pregnancy. The industry has recognised that the use of these stalls is no longer supported by the community, and in November 2010 it voluntarily committed to pursue a phase-out by 2017, which is exactly what the member acknowledged in his question. This is a world first initiative. For producers, implementation of this industry-led initiative involves expensive and complex modifications to their farms and practices. Producers deserve support for making these changes and their efforts need to be recognised. I am advised that 70 per cent of the industry has completed the phase-out of sow stalls and the industry is confident that by 2017 the vision of a gestation stall free industry will be realised.

    It is unfair to perpetuate the myth that industry continues to support the use of sow stalls and that they remain standard practice. It completely ignores and devalues what the industry has achieved. Rather, we need to support the industry and continue to work with it through this voluntary reform. I commend Australian Pork Limited in particular for its efforts in this space. This is a clear example of an industry working with its members, understanding community concerns and putting into practice an initiative which, as I outlined, is expensive in some cases to implement. The industry should be commended for such an initiative. We do not always need to jump in and legislate when an industry already understands the issue and is working with consumer groups to get the desired outcome. That is what working with industry can achieve.

    Again, I commend Australian Pork Limited for the efforts it has made with its members. As I said, up to 70 per cent of the industry has already completed the phasing out of sow stalls. If we were to legislate, as suggested by the Hon. Mark Pearson, by the time such legislation was drafted and put through the House the industry probably would have got there ahead of us. We need to recognise that sometimes the answer lies with those who work with the animals. Sometimes the answer lies with industry groups that are looking at what is happening around the world and saying that they can have a sensible discussion about animal welfare and put practices and plans in place to ensure that their businesses are viable. That is a win-win situation.

    We do not have to come in with the heavy stick. We can listen to what the consumer is saying, and we can work with the industry in a way that allows businesses that want to do the right thing, that are legitimately employing people—many of them are in regional communities—to continue to be productive. The industry is saying that it has got this. It does not need someone telling it how it should do this. The industry has the answers. It is working with its members and with consumers. The industry needs to be commended for that.

    Hansard link – HERE

  • 25/06/2015: Question On Notice, Prohibition of Gestation Sow Stalls

    Mr Pearson to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water—

    1. Given the considerable community concern about the confinement of pigs in gestation sow stalls, will the Government introduce legislation prohibiting the use of gestation sow stalls rather than rely upon industry self-regulation which cannot be enforced by compliance agencies such as the police, Animal Welfare League or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)?
    1. If so, when?
    2. If not, why not?

    Answer—

    1. No.
    1. Not applicable.
    2. NSW has a robust system in place to address animal cruelty that reflects and is responsive to changing community attitudes and farming practices. Animal welfare is supported in NSW by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA) and underpinning Codes and Standards. POCTA provides protection for all animals in NSW.
      Any person concerned about an incident of animal welfare abuse should immediately lodge their complaint to the enforcement agencies – RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police.
      While there is a legislated nationally agreed commitment to restrict the use of sow stalls to the first six weeks of gestation from 1 July 2017, the Australian pork industry in November 2010 voluntarily committed to pursue a phase out by 2017, meaning sows are loose housed for a minimum of 90 per cent of their pregnancy. Close to 65% of the industry has completed the phase out of sow stalls.

    Question asked on 25 June 2015 (session 56-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 14.
    Answer received on 30 July 2015 and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 15.

  • 25/06/2015: Question On Notice, Farm Animal Mutilation Analgesia

    Mr Pearson to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water—

    1. Will the Minister introduce an amendment to section 24 a(iv) and (v) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act NSW 1979 whereby mulesing or other mutilations of sheep such as castrations and tail-docking will require administration of analgesia or pain-relief such as Tri-Solfen and other pre-procedure analgesia such as Carprophen?
    1. If so, when?
    2. If not, why not?

    Answer—

    1. The administration of topical anaesthetic for animal husbandry procedures within the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act NSW 1979 and associated regulations reflect the considerations of the national Australian Animal Welfare Sheep Standards and Guidelines Working Group and the regulatory impact statement relating to the standards. These considerations determined that pain relief is required for animals over 6 months of age.

    Question asked on 25 June 2015 (session 56-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 14.

    Answer received on 30 July 2015 and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 15.

  • 24/06/2015: Question Without Notice, kangaroo shooting

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Ageing, representing the Minister for the Environment.

    The Hon. Niall Blair: You have given up on me.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: No, I have not. Will the Minister investigate and conduct a review of the practice of Macro Meats Proprietary Limited of engaging shooters to kill only male kangaroos, despite this practice having unknown consequences for the sustainability and welfare of kangaroos as well as the integrity and gene pool of the mob, and considering that the practice was never sanctioned by the New South Wales kangaroo management plan?

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: The question seeks specific details, especially about being able to differentiate between a female kangaroo and a male kangaroo. I will refer the question to the relevant Minister for an answer.

    Hansard link – HERE

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