26th August 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, representing the Minister for Justice and Police. Has the Minister recently consulted with the Commissioner of Police, Andrew Scipione, seeking advice in regard to the implications and possible consequences if the Government appointed prescribed officers who would have more powers than police officers to enter and search commercial premises, remove and destroy items, install surveillance devices, and demand and examine records kept on those premises without obtaining a warrant or having formed reasonable suspicion?

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I will take it on notice. Despite listening carefully, I found a degree of confusion within the question. I am sure that will be overcome when we carefully analyse it. It did not make a lot of sense as I listened to it. Having said that, we will analyse it carefully. If an answer is available, we will do our best to supply it to the House.

    To date (4th February 2018) no further information received.


    12th August 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Ageing, representing the Minister for the Environment. Is the Minister aware of any parliamentary oversight and review in the past 20 years to determine whether the New South Wales kangaroo management plans have provided for the sustainable and humane treatment of kangaroos, including their joeys? If not, will the Minister establish a committee to examine these issues prior to the development of the New South Wales Kangaroo Management Plan to commence in 2016, especially considering that Russia has implemented three consecutive bans on imports over the past seven years based on serious hygiene and welfare concerns, and that there are now four European countries considering bans of kangaroo meat?

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I have not been here for the last 20 years, so it is a little difficult. I have been in this Parliament for about eight years. There are parts of the question I will take on notice and refer to the Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, and Assistant Minister for Planning. I am informed that the Commonwealth Department of Health has recorded only one incident of a food-borne illness involving kangaroo. That is based on data collected Australia wide between 2001 and 2012. This one incident affected seven people in the Northern Territory and did not involve commercially harvested product.

    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 New South Wales Food Authority licenses kangaroo harvesters and processors in New South Wales, and those facilities must be able to show traceability of product throughout the chain, from harvest to the plate. Government authorities, including the New South Wales Food Authority, regularly inspect game meat processing facilities, field depots and harvesters. 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. This process provides a comprehensive assessment to ensure the business is operating its food safety program and that the program covers all aspects of food safety.

    I am further informed that the minimum inspection frequency varies for different types of facilities. Harvesters are inspected once every two years, chillers are inspected once per year, processors are inspected once per year, and export processors are inspected once every six months. Despite the differences in inspection frequency, the authority requires all harvesting and processing facilities to consistently meet food safety standards. Additional inspections and appropriate enforcement action are taken in response to any breach, and the authority follows up these results to ensure identified defects have been rectified. In the period November 2013 to November 2014, inspections show that the New South Wales kangaroo industry had a compliance record of 97 per cent, with just two facilities showing an unacceptable result.

    As kangaroos are native fauna, the Office of Environment and Heritage manages the commercial harvesting program 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 for Commercial Purposes, and this code of practice is prescribed as a condition of licence by the Office of Environment and Heritage.

    The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I regret to inform the House that the time for questions has expired. If members have any further questions, I suggest they place them on notice.

    The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: On 12 August 2015 the Hon. Mark Pearson asked me a question about a kangaroo management plan. The Minister for the Environment has provided the following response:

    I am advised as follows:

    • There have been no parliamentary inquiries on the sustainable and humane treatment of kangaroos in New South Wales in the past 20 years.
    • Sustainability of the kangaroo population is the responsibility of both State and Federal governments. Sustainability is ensured through population monitoring and harvesting quotas.
    • All kangaroos must be harvested in accordance with the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes. The code includes requirements for the humane treatment of joeys.
    • Export of kangaroo products is a matter for the Australian government.

    11th August 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. Given that members of the Australian pork industry are committed to phasing out sow stalls—a metal cage in which gestating sows can take only one step forward or back and not turn around—by 2017, will the Government legislate to outlaw the use of sow stalls so that all piggeries in New South Wales are mandated sow stall free?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Gestation stalls, also known as sow stalls, are a form of accommodation used to confine sows during their pregnancy. The industry has recognised that the use of these stalls is no longer supported by the community, and in November 2010 it voluntarily committed to pursue a phase-out by 2017, which is exactly what the member acknowledged in his question. This is a world first initiative. For producers, implementation of this industry-led initiative involves expensive and complex modifications to their farms and practices. Producers deserve support for making these changes and their efforts need to be recognised. I am advised that 70 per cent of the industry has completed the phase-out of sow stalls and the industry is confident that by 2017 the vision of a gestation stall free industry will be realised.

    It is unfair to perpetuate the myth that industry continues to support the use of sow stalls and that they remain standard practice. It completely ignores and devalues what the industry has achieved. Rather, we need to support the industry and continue to work with it through this voluntary reform. I commend Australian Pork Limited in particular for its efforts in this space. This is a clear example of an industry working with its members, understanding community concerns and putting into practice an initiative which, as I outlined, is expensive in some cases to implement. The industry should be commended for such an initiative. We do not always need to jump in and legislate when an industry already understands the issue and is working with consumer groups to get the desired outcome. That is what working with industry can achieve.

    Again, I commend Australian Pork Limited for the efforts it has made with its members. As I said, up to 70 per cent of the industry has already completed the phasing out of sow stalls. If we were to legislate, as suggested by the Hon. Mark Pearson, by the time such legislation was drafted and put through the House the industry probably would have got there ahead of us. We need to recognise that sometimes the answer lies with those who work with the animals. Sometimes the answer lies with industry groups that are looking at what is happening around the world and saying that they can have a sensible discussion about animal welfare and put practices and plans in place to ensure that their businesses are viable. That is a win-win situation.

    We do not have to come in with the heavy stick. We can listen to what the consumer is saying, and we can work with the industry in a way that allows businesses that want to do the right thing, that are legitimately employing people—many of them are in regional communities—to continue to be productive. The industry is saying that it has got this. It does not need someone telling it how it should do this. The industry has the answers. It is working with its members and with consumers. The industry needs to be commended for that.


    4th June 2015

    Questions without notice.


    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 that the Northern Star newspaper reported yesterday, 3 June 2015, that a proposal is in place to commence live export of cattle to Indonesia through the Port of Yamba? If so, will the Government legislate to prevent the live export of New South Wales cattle because in doing so it would reflect the extreme concern most citizens of New South Wales have for the welfare of these animals while at sea for 12-plus days and during handling and slaughter in Indonesia, over which Australia has no jurisdiction in animal protection?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I am aware of the article that appeared in the Northern Star. I am also aware that there is an unusual alliance that has expressed a concern about the information in that article: the meat workers’ union and animal activists in the area. The issue of live trade is a matter for the Commonwealth Government. Currently there are no live export port-handling facilities in New South Wales. Any such proposal would need to be approved by the Commonwealth Government. The only live export trade from New South Wales is genetic export such as sheep and goats, which leave New South Wales by plane. New South Wales supports the Commonwealth’s tough standards and protocols for live export and works to see these as an important measure in protecting the reputation of our livestock industries.

    Two weeks ago I met with other agriculture Ministers from across Australia and the issue of live export was raised, particularly by the Queensland Minister for Agriculture and the Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries. We cannot underestimate the impact that the kneejerk reaction from the previous Federal Labor Government had not only on the live export trade but also on the cattle industry across Australia. It devastated some of the largest employers of Indigenous Australians in northern Australia and put some of those communities into a serious economic downturn. The cattle market has rebounded.

    The Federal Government has worked tirelessly to not only open up other potential markets for live export but also to make sure that we are at the forefront of animal welfare standards when it comes to live export. If Australia was to step out of that market it would more than likely be filled by another country that does not have as stringent animal welfare standards. Australia has a commitment to assist abattoirs throughout Asia to treat cattle that come from other countries as well as cattle coming from Australia. I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. There is no such proposal that the New South Wales Government is aware of. It is something that is a matter for the Commonwealth Government.

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister please elucidate on his answer as to how the New South Wales Government can legislate to prevent live export through New South Wales to overseas countries?

    The Hon. Duncan Gay: The best barrier is the Port of Yamba. You would not get a boat of that size in there.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I acknowledge the response from the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. He is right, the biggest limiting factor for the Port of Yamba is its physical construction. As to what the New South Wales Government can do to legislate to enable the Commonwealth Government to do something that they are responsible for, if I knew the answer to that I probably would not be standing here.


    2nd June 2015

    Questions without notice.


    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industries. What steps is the Government taking to ensure that it is mandatory for all commercial piggeries and all intensive farms to have water sprinkler and remote monitoring systems in place to prevent events such as the burning to death of approximately 400 pigs on 9 April in a fire at Boen Boe Piggery near Bowral and an incident on 23 February at Grong Grong Piggery near Narrandera when 500 pigs died from heat stress due to a malfunctioning ventilation system?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: The piggery fire at Joadja, which is near where I live, occurred early in my time as Minister for Primary Industries. When something like that happens near to where we live we take a particular interest in the investigation and the outcome. I place on the record my thanks to the staff of Local Land Services, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service who attended the event. As the honourable member said, a large number of pigs perished. About half died as a result of the fire and the other half were euthanased because of respiratory complications and toxicity from smoke inhalation. Cattle were also in the shed, but were released by Rural Fire Service personnel into a nearby paddock, but unfortunately one died.

    The Rural Fire Service contacted the Department of Primary Industries requesting that a representative attend the site and offer advice and assistance. The department contacted South East Local Land Services, which immediately despatched three staff to offer assistance, including a veterinarian and a senior biosecurity officer. Once the site was declared safe to enter, Local Land Services staff assisted the manager to assess and euthanase stock following a veterinary assessment. Additional Local Land Services staff were called in to assist once the scale of the stock impact was identified. Staff assessed the welfare of the remaining stock and offered support to the owner on the disposal and recovery process.

    The property is within the Sydney Water catchment area. A risk assessment has been completed in conjunction with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority, which gave approval for the owner to bury the dead animals on the site. Local Land Services staff will continue to support the owner in the recovery phase. As I indicated, I took an interest in the event because it occurred close to where I live. When I saw the communique and noticed that the incident had occurred at Joadja, I took a particular interest. In answer to the honourable member’s question about what will occur in future as a result of this experience, if I have anything further to add I will advise him and the House.

    Related story here.

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