• 09/03/2016: Question without notice, Snowy Mountain brumbies

    In response to the recent media articles and some conservation groups calling for the aerial culling of the Snowy Mountain brumbies, i asked the government to confirm their decision to rule out culling. I also asked whether the government will be looking to invest and better support non lethal and re-homing programs. Our office has been in consultation with brumby protection groups and there will be more to come on this issue.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Ageing, representing the Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, and Assistant Minister for Planning. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will maintain the current ban on the aerial killing of brumbies in the Snowy Mountains National Park and that this plan will be reflected in the horse management plan?

    If so, will the plan include more support and funding for passive trapping and re-homing programs of which the member for Monaro, the Hon. John Barilaro, stated in the other House in June last year:
    If numbers of wild horses are a problem in the Kosciuszko National Park, there are kinder ways to control the wild horse population, such as programs to break in brumbies and offer them for sale.

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I thank the honourable member for his question. I am advised that damage caused by an overabundant wild horse population is a significant threat to the environmental values of Kosciuszko National Park as well as posing a threat to road safety and grazing properties in the region, such as through livestock competition and infrastructure damage. The Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Plan 2008 aims to find a balance between reducing the threats of wild horses and accounting for the views of people who value the presence of wild horses for other reasons, such as the tourism benefits and the historical context of brumbies in the region. I am also advised that the wild horse management plan is currently undergoing review and this will involve extensive consultation with key stakeholders and the general community. In December 2014 the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government ruled out aerial culling and brumby running or roping as wild horse control methods in the revised plan.

  • 22/03/2016: Question without notice, Hard shell crustaceans

    In the lead up to the Easter celebration in which many of society consume seafood Mark asked the Minister if he is aware of any breaches in relation to boiling hard shell crustaceans alive. Currently this is illegal in restaurants but no such legal protection is afforded in seafood markets or similar. Our office will follow up on the answer when it is provided.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. The website of the Department of Primary Industries and the code of conduct of the Master Fish Merchants Association state that the boiling of live hard shell crustaceans is an unacceptable method of killing. It has been brought to my attention that hard shell crustaceans are being boiled alive in seafood markets or other outlets which sell directly to the public as opposed to restaurants, which sell seafood for consumption.

    If this is so, why is this practice being allowed?

    Will the Minister advise members whether there has been any breach regarding the unacceptable methods of killing crustaceans at New South Wales seafood markets in the past 12 months?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA) only applies to a crustacean when at a building or place (such as a restaurant) where food is prepared or offered for consumption by retail sale in the building or place.
    The Department of Primary Industries’ guideline on humane harvesting of fish and crustaceans is not prescribed under POCTA, but is used by POCTA enforcement agencies to inform compliance and enforcement.
    The Department’s guideline does not say that boiling of live hard shell crustaceans is an unacceptable method; it recommends that all crustaceans be immersed in a salt water/ice slurry for a minimum of 20 minutes before boiling, broiling, pithing or cutting.
    The Department of Primary Industries administers POCTA but does not enforce it or have information on breaches relating to crustaceans. The enforcement agencies are RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police.
    RSCPA NSW has advised the Department that it has issued a penalty infringement notice to a proprietor at the Sydney Fish Markets in the past 12 months.

  • 17/03/2016: Question without notice, Baboons used in medical research

    Mark asked the Minister for Medical Research and Assistant Minister for Health. An answer was provided on the 4th of May. Apart from the general lack of oversight revealed in the answer the alarming fact that the Animal Research Act 1985 restricts the disclosure of information obtained about specific research projects. If everything is ok and acceptable to community expectations then what does the government and researchers have to hide? Transparency is key for community trust so why is it that anything relating to animal use hidden from the community and the citizens whose taxes fund this research?

    Would the Minister advise the House of the critical outcomes of the medical research conducted from 2012 to 2015 on baboons kept at the Wallacia facility, pertaining to xenotransplantation, including whether xenotransplantation was performed on a baboon known as Conan?

    1. If so, was this the first of its kind in the world?
    2. Did Conan die due to complications from this procedure?
    3. What experiments were performed on the baboons known as Scar, Belvedere and Frazer? What were the causes of their deaths?

    ANSWER

    The Department of Primary Industries administers the Animal Research Act 1985.
    The Department accredits animal research establishments and receives reports on animal use statistics from them each year, which are collated and reported in the Animal Research Review Panel Annual Report. The information collected is general and deals with numbers of different species of animals used for categorised purposes and categorised levels of impact. The Department does not routinely collect more specific information about individual research projects.
    On a needs basis, information is obtained about specific research projects in the course of administration of the Act. The Act restricts the disclosure of this information.
    Each accredited establishment is responsible for ensuring that research applications are approved by their Animal Ethics Committee. The research applications must include detailed information including the justification for the use of animals, as well as the impacts of all parts of the research project on the animals, and how these impacts will be minimised.
    Published articles are available in the scientific literature on the use of baboons from the National Baboon Colony for xenotransplantation studies. See for example the American Journal of Transplantation June 2014

  • 17/11/2015: Question Without Notice, Koala Park Sanctuary

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. Earlier this month the Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney pleaded guilty to and was convicted of three charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for failure to provide veterinary treatment to emaciated koalas. The sanctuary had also previously been found to have breached the general standards for exhibited animals. Given this conviction and proven breaches of the standards, why has the departmental secretary not exercised his authority under section 30 (1) (a) of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act to cancel the park’s licence?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the honourable member for his question. Koala Park Sanctuary has entered a plea of guilty to three charges of failing to provide veterinary treatment to five koalas in its care. The charges were laid by the RSPCA under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. The failure to provide veterinary treatment related to the failure to investigate emaciated body condition and eye complaints, and the failure to provide treatment for dehydration and chlamydia infections.

    The matter has been adjourned to 2 February 2016 at Parramatta Local Court for sentence. In addition to the proceedings initiated by the RSPCA under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Department of Primary Industries has issued the Koala Park Sanctuary with seven directions with regard to koalas and other animals in the park. The directions issued include keeping animals’ records up to date, fixing fences of enclosures, providing adequate shelter, removing debris within enclosures and providing adequate veterinary treatment for the koalas.

    The park has recently been criticised in the Sydney press and in a United Kingdom [UK] media article. The UK article raised several concerns. Some of these relate to the appearance of the facility and the perceived value for money of the entry fee. These are matters for prospective attendees to make up their own mind about. While some of the journalist’s conclusions about the state of the animals clearly are not an expert’s opinion, the article and supporting photographs suggest some animals are not in good condition and that a number of management standards are not being followed. The department will continue to work with the Koala Park Sanctuary to ensure compliance. It should be noted that a conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is a ground for suspension or cancellation of an exhibitor’s authority, and the department is mindful of this in its dealings with Koala Park Sanctuary.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate as to why the mindfulness has not moved to the cancellation of the Koala Park Sanctuary’s licence?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: As I said, the matter has been adjourned until 2 February 2016 at Parramatta Local Court for sentence. The department will continue to work with the park to ensure compliance. Also as I noted, a conviction under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is grounds for suspension or cancellation. I suspect that we will know more about this matter once it has returned to court.

    Watch the video below.

    Hansard link – https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20151117039?open&refNavID=HA8_1

  • 10/11/2015: Question Without Notice, Impounded Dogs

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, representing the Minister for Local Government. In 2013-14 more than 20,000 impounded dogs and cats were killed by local councils and the RSPCA. Given that section 64(5) of the Companion Animals Act states that councils have a duty to consider alternatives to killing, by what accountability mechanism does the Minister satisfy himself that councils are responsibly exercising that duty? And given that the Office of Local Government figures show that approved rescue groups under section 16(d) rehomed close to 8,000 animals rescued from death row last year, will the Minister explain why these organisations receive no funding from government?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a question of great detail which I will refer to my colleague the Minister for Local Government. I do remember, however, recently he asked me why we had not done something about the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service [WIRES] signs and when I checked, they were not our signs, they were WIRES’ signs. We need to check on this and I will take the question in good faith and pass it on to the Minister for a detailed answer.

    Hansard link – HERE

    No answer has yet been provided.

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