9th August 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Proposed kangaroo slaughter.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:09): My question is directed to the Minister for Ageing, representing the Minister for the Environment. The National Parks and Wildlife Service has issued a permit to kill 15 healthy male kangaroos trapped within the boundaries of Penrith Anglican College. Will the Minister intervene to order the translocation of the kangaroos by remote chemical capture and release, which is very likely to be 100 per cent successful and cost effective when carried out by qualified and licensed individuals and does not require stressful herding of the animals? If not, why not?

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism) (16:10): I will refer that very detailed question to the relevant Minister, Mark Speakman, and come back with an answer as soon as possible.

    13th September 2016


    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (9 August 2016).

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism)The Minister provided the following response:

    I am advised as follows:

    No. The National Parks and Wildlife Service [NPWS] is the regulator of licences to harm or kill fauna under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. NPWS would consider an application to capture and relocate the animals, however it would need to be satisfied that the applicant has the capacity to undertake a capture and transport operation without causing undue distress to the animals.


    2nd June 2016

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (14:52): 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 (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (14:53): When it comes to the safety of our food—

    The PRESIDENT: Order! Government backbenchers will come to order. The Minister has the call.

    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, I was reminded 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.]


    31st May 2016

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:56): 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. Duncan Gay: Point of order: I seek clarification on how many questions a member can ask within a question. My understanding is that a member can ask only a single question rather than two entirely different questions, although from a similar background. The honourable member said, “My first question” and then went on to detail his second question. I am asking whether that is appropriate under the standing orders.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! While, in fact, the standing order does refer to the asking of each question, the ruling that has generally been made by previous Presidents is that while there may be only one question, that does not necessarily restrict the question to one subject. The understanding would be that generally the subjects would be related so that the question does not become impossible for a Minister to answer in the limited time available. The member had concluded his question. I will allow the question. However, I remind members seeking answers to questions that Ministers have only four minutes in which to respond. The Minister has the call.

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism) (16:59): 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.

    9th August 2016


    In reply to the Hon. MARK PEARSON (31 May 2016).

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Multiculturalism)—The Minister provided the following response:

    I am advised:

    The National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015—2019 is a joint strategy between Health and Agriculture. Through this strategy, the health sector will work with the agriculture and veterinary sectors to implement actions to reduce the risk of emergence and spread of multiresistant organisms in Australia.

    NSW Health, in liaison with the Department of Primary Industry where appropriate, is developing local implementation plans consistent with the national direction set by the Strategy and Implementation Plan.

    New South Wales hospitals are focused on three key strategies to prevent antibiotic resistance:

    1.Preventing infections—which reduces the need for antibiotics (examples include hand hygiene and immunisation);

    2.Antimicrobial stewardship—which involves using antibiotics more safely and appropriately; and

    3.Preventing transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms (examples include environmental cleaning and hand hygiene).

    The NSW Ministry of Health monitors the incidence of selected high risk healthcare associated infections in New South Wales public hospitals such as bloodstream infections due to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. All hospitals are required to have infection prevention and control programs, and antimicrobial stewardship programs, to meet minimum standards for quality and safety.

    The Clinical Excellence Commission provides support and training to hospital staff to improve infection prevention and control programs and antimicrobial stewardship programs. Hand hygiene compliance in New South Wales hospitals is now 84.1 per cent, which is higher than the national average. A recent project to improve antibiotic use resulted in an increase in compliance with prescribing guidelines from 74 per cent to 86 per cent. Evidence illustrates that these types of initiatives improve patient outcomes and reduce mortality associated with infections.


    12th May 2016

    Questions without notice.

    Wagga Wagga pound.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:19): I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. On 3 April, theSydney 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 (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:20): 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.

    21st June 2016


    In reply to the Hon. MARK PEARSON (12 May 2016).

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

    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.


    18th April 2016

    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 will continue to push for answers.

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