• Question without notice-Kangaroo meat consumption

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Has the NSW Food Authority conducted a robust and detailed analysis on kangaroo meat sold for human consumption? If so, did this analysis test for E. coli, salmonellosis and other relevant contaminants as well as acetic acid, which make it delicious. If E. coli was detected was typing done for the specification of the E. coli? If no such analyses have been done, will the Minister authorise the appropriate testing to be conducted?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: When it comes to food safety and the kangaroo meat industry the NSW Food Authority has an excellent record. About two trips ago when I visited the NSW Food Authority I ran into an inspector who had just returned from an inspection at a kangaroo meat facility. Indeed, when I was asked this question about the role of the NSW Food Authority and kangaroo meat it reminded me of that chance encounter. I am aware of media discussion regarding an ongoing campaign intended to bring attention to alleged cruelty in the kangaroo meat sector. I am also aware of claims, repeated in the media, that kangaroo meat contains pathogens that can be harmful to humans.
    First, let me say that as kangaroos are native fauna, the Office of Environment and Heritage manages the commercial harvesting program in New South Wales. This program is intended 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 and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes. This code of practice is prescribed as a condition of licence by the Office of Environment and Heritage. The risk that meat for consumption will come into contact with pathogenic organisms such as salmonella or E.coli is not a risk that is specific to kangaroo meat; this is a known risk factor for many types of meat and other food products.
    A key component of the role of the Food Authority is to work closely with industry in New South Wales, across all points of the supply chain to minimise the risks posed by such pathogens. For the kangaroo meat industry the Food Authority licenses kangaroo harvesters and processors in New South Wales and those facilities must be able to show traceability of product throughout the supply chain from harvest to the plate. 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 Food Authority also enforces established handling and storage requirements for kangaroo meat to further reduce any risks due to microorganisms. While the Food Authority has strict systems and requirements in place to ensure kangaroo meat is safe, it is important that all raw meats are cooked and stored at the correct temperature. This helps to reduce the presence of any microorganisms that may be present in the meat and to prevent microorganisms forming after it is cooked.
    Government authorities, including the Food Authority, also regularly inspect game meat processing facilities, field depots and harvesters—for example, the chance encounter I had with the inspector to which I referred earlier. 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. The minimum inspection frequency varies for different types of facilities. Harvesters are inspected once every two years, chillers are inspected— [Time expired.]

    kangaroo-meat-trade-1

  • Question without notice- Antibiotic Resistance

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism, representing the Minister for Health. My first question to the Minister is: With the Government’s current focus on biosecurity, what investigations have been undertaken to satisfy public health authorities that there will not be any further cases of antibiotic resistance in the general public similar to the Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus [VRE] of the early 2000s? Secondly, given that there were no health department investigations into the VRE cases at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and given the ongoing use of antibiotic-type substances such as coccidiostats in intensive farming of animals, will the Minister establish an inquiry into this use of antibiotic-type substances and the potential impacts on human health?
    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism): I thank the member for his question. It is clearly a detailed question, or questions. I will refer it to the Minister for Health and seek a detailed answer.

  • Question Without Notice-Cats dying in freezers at NSW pound

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. On 3 April, the Sydney Morning Herald reported allegations of aggravated animal cruelty at Wagga Wagga pound. Volunteers at the pound claim to have found dead and dying cats that had been dumped in freezers while still alive. A Fairfax media investigation found that over the past three years more than 80 dogs and cats had vanished from the pound’s books. RSPCA New South Wales conducted an investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing that would lead to convictions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

    Will the Minister exercise his powers under section 34B (4) of that Act to request a report from the RSPCA providing the reasons for the decision and table that report in the House? If not, why not?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I remember reading that article about Wagga Wagga pound. I will take the question on notice and provide a relevant response. It has been some time since it was published, and I want to refresh my memory of the details.

    UPDATED ANSWER PROVIDED BY THE MINISTER: As one of the enforcement agencies under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, RSPCA NSW has advised that it has investigated complaints about Wagga Wagga Pound and does not intend to commence proceedings. RSPCA has advised it is working with the pound regarding animal welfare.
    Records of surrendered or stray animals kept in Council pounds are not covered by a Code of Practice under POCTA, they are regulated under the Companion Animals Act 1998 administered by the Office of Local Government.

  • 18/04/2016: Question With Notice, Pig gassing cruelty investigation

    Last June I had a meeting with Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair regarding the gassing of pigs at Rivalea slaughterhouse. In this meeting I presented footage of the gas stunning process captured as the pigs were lowered into the chamber. In addition, I asked for the Minister to visit in person with myself and other concerned colleagues, the Rivalea facility and witness first hand the gassing process.

    Unsurprisingly the Minister declined the offer of a slaughterhouse visit. I then wrote a formal letter to the Rivalea management so as I and a member of my staff could visit the slaughterhouse, this was rejected without reason. So as you know, we, attempted to visit ourselves, we were not received with a warm welcome.

    It has to be asked if everything is OK then why all the secrecy? Why the denials and refusal of inspection?

    Well according to Minister Blair all is OK, in a response letter sent to my office he confirmed he had viewed the footage and that everything is fine at Rivalea. The issue filmed was merely the actions of individual workers as opposed to systemic cruelty. The RSPCA had inspected the facility and found it to be compliant. All is good, nothing to see.

    I do NOT accept this and so I my questioning of the claims in the letter have been written and formally submitted to the Minister, a response is required by the 28th of April.

  • 23/03/2016: Question without notice, illegal hunting

    The ridiculous decisions of the Baird government in relation to activists exposing animal cruelty and silencing their right to peaceful protest can only be described as dictatorial. Yet the government does nothing to stop the rogue Rambo wannabes illegally trespassing on land and indiscriminately killing animals and wildlife.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight representing the Hon. Troy Grant, Deputy Premier, and Minister for Justice and Police. Given the alarming media reports of confrontations between landholders and illegal hunters and the identification of illegal hunting trespass as being of concern to 58 per cent of farmers by Dr Elaine Barclay, Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of New England, will the Minister confirm that the Stock Theft and Trespass Review will investigate the rising incidence of illegal hunting trespass on rural lands?

    If so, is there a term of reference that specifically addresses the issue of illegal hunting trespass, and how is the review being promoted to the wider community?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It was probably a question better put to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industries, because the Department of Primary Industries Game Licensing Unit is hard at work targeting illegal hunters across the State. There is not an illegal hunter in the State that Niall’s army is not chasing at this moment. It is interesting to note that in this Parliament recently the Shooters and Fishers Party—soon to be the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, but they will not look after the farmers as well as The Nationals—indicated that they find illegal shooting on private property, namely farms, totally abhorrent. I do not think anyone in this place who would disagree with that.

    People in the gallery and members of the House have farms. One of the worst things you can find when working in rural industries is people operating illegally on your property. Even worse is to have people shooting illegally on your property—especially if they are shooting with rifles. Shotguns have a short trajectory but bullets from rifles can carry a couple of kilometres or more. Some years ago on my home farm a bullet lodged in the fibro on the edge of the shearers’ quarters. We had no idea where the bullet came from but it was a scary thing to happen.

    I am told that a robust regulatory system that allows legal, licensed hunters to access declared public lands acts as a deterrent to those who operate illegally and who are determined to flout the law. In fact, legal, licensed hunters are a regular and reliable source of information on illegal hunters. They hate them as much as we do, and they contribute to compliance and enforcement within their peer networks. The community also has an important role to play in detecting and deterring illegal hunting. It is now an easy matter for members of the public to report illegal hunting incidents.

    The game licensing unit has partnered with the NSW Police Force to shut the gate on illegal hunting as part of the larger shut the gate on rural crime campaign, as asked about in the member’s question. A dedicated illegal hunting report line 1800 SHUT IT is now available to report illegal hunting directly to game licensing compliance officers. Illegal hunting report forms, business cards and magnets have also been processed to assist members of the public to report illegal hunting activity and ensure the right information is collected. Investigations rely on the timely and accurate reporting of illegal hunting. Details that assist in investigations include the date, time and place; details about the alleged offender; vehicle type and registration; and the type of alleged illegal activity.

    The New South Wales Government is committed to detecting and deterring illegal hunting in this State. The community now has more information. What I have not answered in his question I will certainly take on notice and refer to the police Minister for a comprehensive response.

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