• RSPCA STAFFING LEVELS OVER HOLIDAY PERIODS

    23rd February 2017

    Questions without notice.

    RSPCA Staffing levels.

    RSPCA STAFFING LEVELS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (14:49): My question without notice is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry. Over the summer period there was animal suffering and deaths caused by heat stress, dehydration and starvation in council pounds and boarding kennels. Unlike the NSW Police, which rostered on additional officers during this busy holiday time, the RSPCA reduced the number of inspectors on duty, resulting in delays and animals being left at risk of harm during this critical time. Given that the statutory obligation to investigate and enforce our animal welfare laws is a year-round responsibility and overseen by the Minister, what steps does the Minister’s department take to monitor the availability of RSPCA inspectors to discharge their duties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (14:50): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. Obviously, as we have heard many times in this House, the member has a particular interest in the RSPCA and its actions—or, in his view, its lack of action at times. I know he has a particular history with the RSPCA. Nonetheless, the member has asked an important question. It is obviously very much an operational matter as to how the RSPCA schedules the number of officers on duty and when it does that.

    The Hon. Mark Pearson also referred to the role that my agency plays in relation to liaising with the RSPCA, in particular for the parts of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that it is responsible for. In the light of the level of operational detail that the member has asked for in his question, I will refer the question back to my department and I will take it on notice. I will seek an answer, and I may need to liaise with the RSPCA as part of that answer, and come back to the member with a detailed response.

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    30th March 2017

    RSPCA STAFFING LEVELS

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (23 February 2017).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry)—The Minister provided the following response:

    RSPCA NSW is an independent charitable organisation operating its own constitution and governance structure and is independent of government.

    POCTA is enforced not just by RSPCA NSW, but also by Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police.

    I am advised that RSPCA NSW responds to cruelty complaints 365 days a year and receives about 15,000 complaints a year. It prioritises complaint investigation and ensures a timely response to urgent complaints. It does this either by dealing with the complaint directly or referring it to one of the other POCTA enforcement agencies, including the NSW Police Force if required.

  • CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASING HEAT STRESS IN CATTLE

    21st February 2017

    Questions without notice.

    Heat stress in cattle.

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:31): My question is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry. Given that the New South Wales Government recognises that climate change means that farmers will need to adjust to prolonged periods of high temperatures during the summer months, what steps is the Minister’s department taking to ensure that the recent prolonged suffering and death from heat stress of 40 dairy cattle at Shoalhaven does not become a regular occurrence in our paddocks and cattle and sheep feedlots, in particular where this occurred due to the failure to provide adequate shelter?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:32): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I am sure that he had a good holiday, like the rest of us. He had plenty of time to fly his drone, no doubt. I hope he is well rested. I hear that he has not yet finished. I thank him for his question. I know that issues in relation to how stock handle extremes of temperature, including heat stress, is something that is managed by a lot of private businesses in our primary industries. In relation to the dairy that the Hon. Mark Pearson spoke about, I will take the question on notice and come back to him with a detailed answer. Given the nature of the question and given the timelines he spoke about, I am sure that there will be ongoing investigation. It would not be helpful for me to make comments while an investigation is being undertaken so I will take the question on notice and come back to him.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: The question from the Hon. Mark Pearson clearly mentioned climate change, which is a very serious issue and an issue of interest to people across New South Wales as well as honourable members. So far the Minister has not mentioned climate change in his answer. It is pertinent. It is central to this issue, and I would ask that the President direct the Minister to be relevant to the question that was asked.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! Mr Jeremy Buckingham will resume his seat. That is not a point of order by any stretch of the imagination. Mr Jeremy Buckingham should not use points of order as an opportunity to make debating points. The Minister was being generally relevant, and he will be heard in silence.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Before I take this question on notice and come back to the Hon. Mark Pearson I just make the observation that any person who would use the death of stock like this as some sort of political stunt in this Chamber, as Mr Jeremy Buckingham has just done, is an absolute disgrace. The Hon. Mark Pearson asked about—

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: You’re a disgrace, mate. People are going to the wall and you won’t even say the words “climate change”. You’re a fool.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind Mr Jeremy Buckingham that it was not my intention to call honourable members to order in this first question time. I ask that Mr Jeremy Buckingham allow the Minister to finish his answer in silence. The Minister has the call.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: We all know that the Hon. Mark Pearson is passionate when it comes to animal welfare. He has asked a genuine question. I was showing the member’s question the respect that it deserved, and I was going through it and answering the substantive part of the question. The stunt that Mr Buckingham has just pulled is something that every member of this House should stand up and condemn him for.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: You pulled the stunt, mate.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: To use the death of stock and the loss of livelihood of a primary producer for a political stunt on climate change is nothing but a disgrace. If the rest of his colleagues had the respect to come to question time and to actually sit through this then I am sure they would be absolutely disgusted as well. He is a disgrace—using an unrelated topic to make a point like this.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: They are disgusted by you, mate. Thousands of farmers are going to the wall. The Minister is an absolute dinosaur and a fool.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I will not tolerate Government Ministers, Government members, Opposition members or crossbench members yelling at each other across the table. It is clearly disorderly. It is not something that I will accept. I ask that the Minister direct his answer through the Chair. Does the Minister have anything further to add?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Getting back to the substantive part of the question, I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I will take it on notice and come back to him with as much information as possible in due course.


    28th March 2017

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (21 February 2017).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry)—The Minister provided the following response:

    The Department of Primary Industries recognises that climate change has the potential to impact on farming and livestock in particular. Advisory material has been prepared by the department and by industry groups and circulated to farmers on the best ways to avoid this situation.

    The department’s Climate Unit currently produces the NSW Seasonal Conditions Report on a monthly basis which is available publicly through the DPI website or via email subscription.

    The report includes information on rainfall, water storages, crops, livestock and other issues. It can help farmers make informed decisions on how they manage operations and prepare for seasonal conditions including heatwaves.

    The department has a representative on the Feedlot Industry Accreditation Committee—the group which oversees and administers the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme [NFAS], the quality assurance program for the cattle feedlot sector.

    The committee has agreed to a number of requirements for feedlots with respect to heat stress management including the need to:

    •have a Heat Load Action Plan;

    •undertake a specific animal welfare audit every six months (in addition to the annual independent audits of feedlots);

    •undertake regular monitoring of cattle during the summer period; and

    •conduct risk assessments, and to calculate heat stress and accumulated heat load in their cattle for their specific site.

    The committee regularly reviews NFAS, recommends areas for further research and development [R&D] as well as providing advice surrounding the need for industry training and development.

    To this end, the industry has undertaken R&D into the impacts of climate change on the sector and how the industry needs to adapt into the future. Industry has also developed animal welfare specific training and other materials for extension purposes.

    Additionally, the feedlot sector has developed the Katestone forecasting service which enables lot feeders to calculate the heat load risk in their cattle and the accumulated heat load for cattle and the climate specific to their site, several days in advance.

    Katestone enables proactive mitigating measures to be undertaken such as the inclusion of additional water troughs in pens, transferring more heat susceptible cattle to shaded areas and/or changing the ration to reduce metabolic heat generation.

    The dairy industry has also developed a Forecast Service to help dairy operators proactively manage summer heat in their herds. Farmers can register with the Dairy Forecast Service through Dairy Australia, which provides information including temperature, atypical conditions and extended periods of heat load weather.

  • BLANTYRE FARMS PIGGERY PIG EFFLUENT SPILLING ON PUBLIC ROADS

    17th November 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Blantyre Farms piggery.

    BLANTYRE FARMS BIOSECURITY

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (14:45): My question without notice is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water. There have been a number of complaints to Hilltops Council from Harden residents concerning the frequent spilling of animal effluent on the public roads from Blantyre Farms piggery. Residents have had difficulty obtaining accurate information about these spills, given that industry is only required to “self report” problems concerning the transport and disposal of animal waste off site. What steps has the Minister’s department taken to investigate whether Blantyre Farms has failed to discharge a biosecurity duty under section 23 of the Biosecurity Act 2015?

    The PRESIDENT: Before the Minister commences his answer, I welcome to the President’s gallery our former colleague the Hon. Rick Ball who, when I arrived a fair while ago, was the Leader of the National Party and Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He has certainly had many roles in this place. We welcome him back today.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (14:46): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I draw no correlation between the question relating to pig excrement and the last day of Parliament for the year. I take the opportunity also to welcome the Hon. Rick Ball who chaired one of our local land services [LLSs] in New South Wales. It is good to see him in the Chamber. I will take the question on notice because I know that that element of the question concerning biosecurity directly related to my portfolio. But this issue relates also to local government and to Transport, the portfolio responsibility of the Hon. Duncan Gay. Some of the things that I know the Hon. Duncan Gay has been working on with local government and the Department of Primary Industries are the issues of truck washes—something to which we are attuned. It is not something that is isolated to one part of the State; it is something that we want to ensure is dealt with in a practical way.

    It is one thing to have fantastic producers and fantastic growing conditions in this State, but it is also important to ensure we enable those producers to get their livestock transported easily throughout New South Wales. One of the reasons the Hon Duncan Gay put so much work into his pinch points and the Bridges for the Bush program was to ensure that we unlock some of those pinch points and not put extra costs or place burdens on our producers to transport commodities such as livestock, whether it is to saleyards, processing facilities or within different farms. To get a holistic answer, particularly in relation to biosecurity and my portfolio, I will take the question on notice and come back to the member.


    21st February 2017

    BLANTYRE FARMS BIOSECURITY

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (17 November 2016).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water)—The Minister provided the following response:

    The New South Wales Biosecurity Act 2015 has not yet commenced and the legal requirements to discharge a biosecurity duty under section 23 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 are not yet in force. The department has therefore not initiated an investigation in relation to any breach of section 23 of the Biosecurity Act 2015.

  • YABBY TRAPS DROWNING NATIVE WILDLIFE

    15th September 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Yabby traps drowning native wildlife.

    YABBY TRAPS

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:23): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. As prescribed by the Fisheries Management Regulations, opera house style yabby traps are banned from use in public waters east of the Newell Highway, where platypuses are found. The ban was implemented in response to the number of animals being drowned in these traps. It is, however, still legal to use these traps in public waters in parts of western New South Wales. New South Wales Fisheries has published advice on how to modify the traps so as to limit bycatch, yet in areas such as Menindee Australian water rats are caught and drowned in the traps. Will the Minister follow the example of States such as Victoria and impose a statewide ban on opera house style traps so as to protect our native animals? If not, why not?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:24): I thank the member for his very detailed question. As I look across to the President’s gallery to see whether there is a note on such a detailed question, the response on the faces of my advisers is the reason that I find the beginning of my answer somewhat humorous. I am certainly on my own on this one. It is a serious question. If the Department of Primary Industries [DPI] Fisheries, which comprises some of the most outstanding scientific minds in this country, has determined that certain parts of the State warrant the use of so-called opera house traps and other parts of the State do not then, without having any information to hand, I say that the determination it has made is the right one.

    We have some of the best scientific advice on fish stocks and fishing methods in New South Wales estuaries. If DPI Fisheries has determined that the traps are appropriate in certain parts of the State I support the status quo. If the department provides me with further advice on this matter I will be happy to review that advice. At the moment, if there is a clear distinction and there has been a decision to allow the traps in certain areas I assume some form of assessment has occurred. That assessment would have been undertaken by the best in the business. If I receive any further advice from DPI Fisheries I will be happy to share that with the member.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:26): I ask a supplementary question. Would the Minister elucidate his answer in relation to why the Department of Primary Industries does not follow other States that have a complete ban?

    The PRESIDENT: Order! The standing order is quite clear. A supplementary question must ask for elucidation of an aspect of an answer. It is not in order to ask the Minister to address a part of the question that was not answered. As I said in a previous ruling, other than the requirement that a Minister be relevant and not debate the question, a Minister is free to choose to answer as he or she wishes. I am afraid I have to rule the supplementary question out of order.

  • POISONING OF WILDLIFE by LANNATE L INSECTICIDE

    13th September 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Poisoning of wildlife by Lannate L Insecticide.

    LANNATE L INSECTICIDE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:35): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. At my recent community forum in Broken Hill I was told that it was common practice for landholders to purchase Lannate L, a schedule 7 insecticide, known colloquially as “Magic” because if used undiluted on a carcass it will kill anything. I was told of a sheep farmer who killed 60 wedge-tailed eagles in one week. Will the Minister advise whether the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has approved the use of Lannate L for wild animal control? If not, will the Minister direct his department to investigate this unauthorised and cruel use of a schedule 7 poison?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (16:36): Some components of this question relate to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority [APVMA], which is a Federal body. The wedge-tailed eagle, which is a native bird, component probably falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Environment. If the question also relates to other pest animals species it may be relevant to my portfolio. What chemicals can be used for agricultural purposes and not for pest management is a responsibility for the APVMA. In good faith, I will take the question on notice and provide the Hon. Mark Pearson with information that is directly relevant to my portfolio rather than taking up too much time of the House now.

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    13th October 2016

    LANNATE L INSECTICIDE

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (13 September 2016).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water)—The Minister provided the following response:

    Lannate-L is an insecticide registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority [APVMA] for treatment of a range of insect pests in crops, it is not approved for wild animal control.

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