• WALLY’S PIGGERY INVESTIGATION

    15th October 2015

    Questions without notice.

    WALLY’S PIGGERY

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. In response to a budget estimates question, the Government advised that the Minister is not privy to legal advice detailing the reasons for the withdrawal of cruelty charges in the Wally’s Piggery case. Will the Minister confirm that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is the only criminal legislation that gives prosecutorial authority to a charitable body such as the RSPCA? Will he advise what accountability mechanisms are in place to ensure that the RSPCA competently fulfils prosecutorial duties in this case? Given the ongoing public concern about the RSPCA’s carriage of this prosecution, will he affirm his confidence in the RSPCA and its ability to competently conduct criminal prosecution cases?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. In the first part of his question he alluded to this topic being explored briefly during a budget estimates hearing earlier this year before General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5. From memory, the member also raised this matter with me on previous occasions during question time. On a number of occasions I have said that when it comes to animal welfare, the Government takes the matter seriously. I know that staff of the Department of Primary Industries do an outstanding job in relation to animal welfare. They proactively work with producers, stakeholder groups and agencies to help them understand and fulfil their responsibilities when it comes to animal welfare.

    I can confidently speak on behalf of the majority of New South Wales citizens when I refer to the RSPCA’s role in this area in New South Wales. I will deal in more detail later with the specifics of the prosecution, which I acknowledge is part of the member’s question. When it comes to an agency that is responsible for animal welfare under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, I can confidently say that the New South Wales branch of the RSPCA is an outstanding organisation. During the election campaign earlier this year the Government made further commitments relating to funding of its facility in Sydney. I have faith in the agencies, including the police, the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA to carry out their functions diligently under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    As for the specifics of the prosecution, I am advised that in August 2012 Animal Liberation released video footage showing the alleged mistreatment of pigs and illegal slaughter at a piggery in the southern tablelands of New South Wales. RSPCA NSW investigated the allegations relating to the treatment and management of the pigs, and laid charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act against Wally’s Piggery in July 2013. On 17 November 2014, RSPCA NSW withdrew the prosecution after consultation with independent counsel based on matters relating to legal evidence. The piggery has since been destocked and is no longer in operation.

    Animal welfare is a concern to everyone in the community and, as I said, the New South Wales Government takes it seriously. New South Wales has a robust system in place to address animal cruelty. RSPCA NSW is one of three enforcement organisations under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act; the other two enforcement agencies are the Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police. RSPCA NSW operates under its own constitution and governance structure, independent of the New South Wales Government.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer? Does he have confidence that the RSPCA, as a charitable organisation, can administer a criminal Act although he is not privy to the legal advice detailing the reasons for the withdrawal? He would have been privy to the advice if it were the police.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: As I said, I have confidence in the operations of the RSPCA. However, I must make it clear that RSPCA NSW withdrew the prosecution after consultation with independent counsel based on matters relating to legal evidence. That was the basis on which the RSPCA made that decision. As I said earlier, I have confidence in the RSPCA to fulfil its obligations under the Act. In this case RSPCA NSW has acted under the guidance of independent legal counsel. That is all we can ask.

  • INJURED WILDLIFE SIGNAGE

    13th October 2015

    Questions without notice.

    INJURED WILDLIFE ROAD SIGNS.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. On my recent travels around regional New South Wales I met with the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service [WIRES], the wildlife carers, which advised me that while it receives a high volume of calls regarding wildlife injured on our roads, many animals are left to suffer because of outdated road signage advertising local numbers that are no longer in use. For some time WIRES has been asking Roads and Maritime Services to update roadside signs to advertise the statewide 1300 helpline number, but to date this has not occurred. Will the Minister direct Roads and Maritime Services immediately to update its injured wildlife road signs to include this statewide phone number for reporting injured and orphaned wildlife?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the member for what I believe is his first question directed to me. I have been waiting and waiting and I have had a folder with me in anticipation of a question from him. It is a good and important question that I will take on notice. I will consult with my department to find out what is happening. If the member is correct—I have no reason to assume that he is not—as soon as we properly can we will put in train appropriate changes in that area.


    17th November 2015

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: On 13 October 2015 the Hon. Mark Pearson asked me a question about injured wildlife road signs. I provide the following response:

    I am advised:

    WIRES is responsible for making and installing WIRES road signs. Roads and Maritime Services assesses sign design and provides approval of new signs on the State’s road network. Roads and Maritime is working with WIRES to identify which signs require updating.

  • DOLPHINS IN DISTRESS AT COFFS HARBOUR MARINE MAGIC

    16th September 2015

    Questions without notice.

    COFFS HARBOUR DOLPHIN MARINE MAGIC

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. Is the Minister aware of any documentary evidence relied upon by his department to establish that the welfare of the dolphins at the Coffs Harbour-based Dolphin Marine Magic pool is compliant with the dolphin standards under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 in that there are no stereotypic aberrant behaviours associated with continual distress and stress, nor are there genetic abnormalities associated with inbreeding?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I am advised that the exhibition of animals at Dolphin Marine Magic is regulated by the Department of Primary Industries under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986. An animal welfare organisation has made a formal complaint to the department alleging Dolphin Marine Magic is non-compliant with standards relating to dolphin management. The department has conducted compliance activities in response to the complaint. I am advised that the animal display establishment complies with all relevant dolphin requirements.

  • By Fir0002 - Taken by Fir0002Camera: Canon 20DLens: Tamron SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=282362

    BEEKEEPING

    10th September 2015

    Questions without notice.

    BEEKEEPING

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Modern commercial honey production requires bees to be continuously transported around the country to pollinate our crops and provide honey. Studies around the world have shown that bees naturally forage within only a one- to three-kilometre range and when required to constantly adjust to new environments they exhibit physical stress as they are forced to adapt to new micro-climates, landscapes and floral resources. Is the Minister aware of any investigations or research conducted by his department or elsewhere into the effect of stress on honey bees as a result of these practices? This is an important matter.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The question contained several components so I will answer them in reverse. I will start with the member’s statement that this is an important matter. I can only take from that statement that the member thinks that I would consider that beekeeping, the condition of the bees and our apiarists in New South Wales are not important matters. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I may have said in the House before, when I was at university studying for my horticultural science degree I failed one subject and I had to pick up six more credit points.

    My third year apiculture course did not have an exam, which is probably why I chose it, and it was the best decision. It was a practical subject with a large theory component, and part of that component included the behaviour and life cycle of bees. It is fascinating to study the way bees communicate in the hive, in the colony. One thing I know is that from time to time the bees in a colony decide that it is necessary to find a new location—perhaps the old queen is exhausted and they decide to select a new queen.

    The Hon. Catherine Cusack: They do it nicely. They don’t pass motions.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: They do it nicely. A new queen is selected, and she may decide to take part of the hive with her. The bees will swarm when the queen sends them out to find a new location.

    The Hon. Catherine Cusack: The bees behave.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I would appreciate it if Government backbenchers allowed the Minister to answer in silence.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The queen will send out the bees to find a new home for the colony, and they will come back and do a little figure eight dance. Bees communicate to each other how good the new location is by how vigorously they dance. For example, the Hon. Duncan Gay might go out and come back, and the new location is not bad so he does a slightly subdued dance. Then the Hon. John Ajaka goes out and comes back, and does a vigorous dance saying, “Let’s go this way.” The bees will take in what the Hon. John Ajaka says and they will head off to the new site. Bees naturally adapt to movement.

    However, the Hon. Mark Pearson asked me whether I am aware of any studies about apiarists moving their colonies. I declare to the House that beekeeping is something I am introducing at my house to my son. It is a great pastime to get involved in with kids. People must ensure that their beehives are registered with the Department of Primary Industries. It is fantastic to be involved in beekeeping. In answer to the question, I am not aware of any studies. But I am a great fan of bees and beekeeping, and we should all celebrate that.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister to ensure that the investigation includes the fact that when bees become stressed they become a serious risk to agriculture and cross-pollination. Will the Minister elucidate as to whether that is an eight swing dance or an eighty-eight swing dance?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I think the first part of the supplementary question was really a statement. As to the second part about the bee dance, it depends on how good the new site is.

  • WALLY’S PIGGERY CRUELTY INVESTIGATION

    8th September 2015

    Questions without notice.

    WALLY’S PIGGERY.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without is notice is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, representing the Minister for Justice and Police. In 2012, the NSW Police Force and RSPCA New South Wales commenced an investigation into Wally’s Piggery after viewing footage obtained by animal activists. The RSPCA subsequently laid 53 charges, including aggravated animal cruelty. In November 2014, for unknown reasons, all charges were withdrawn. Why has the NSW Police Force not commenced a prosecution under section 530 of the Crimes Act, given that the footage shows the torture and severe beating of animals and other acts of egregious cruelty, and given that the Queensland Police Service are prosecuting under similar circumstances in the current greyhound live baiting case where it is relying on the public interest— [Time expired.]

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. I am advised that in August 2012 Animal Liberation released video footage showing alleged mistreatment of pigs and illegal slaughter at a piggery in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. The RSPCA NSW investigated the allegations relating to the treatment and management of the pigs and laid charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act against Wally’s Piggery in July 2013. On 17 November 2014 the RSPCA NSW withdrew the prosecution after consultation with independent counsel based on matters relating to legal evidence.

    The piggery has since been de-stocked and is no longer in operation. Animal welfare is of concern to everyone in the community and is an issue that the New South Wales Government takes seriously. We have a robust system in place in New South Wales to address animal cruelty. The RSPCA NSW is one of three enforcement organisations listed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. The second is the NSW Police, and the third is the Animal Welfare League of New South Wales. The RSPCA operates under its own constitution and governance structure, which is independent of the New South Wales Government. The question is pertinent to the NSW Police Force and I will refer it to the Minister for Justice and Police for a response. Mr President—

    The Hon. Walt Secord: Point of order: Question time started late today.

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Question time started late and it has finished late.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: If members have any further questions, I suggest they place them on notice.

    Questions without notice concluded.


    To date (4th February 2018) no response received.

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