• 04/06/2015: Question Without Notice, Live Cattle Export

    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.

    Hansard link – HERE

  • 02/06/2015: Question Without Notice, Piggery Management

    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 Boen 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.

    Hansard link – HERE

  • 27/05/2015: Question Without Notice, Animal Welfare Standards

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries. Is the Government aware that it supports, via a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Farmers Association, non-mandatory standards of animal welfare guidelines and standards, unlike any other Australian State or Territory?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. To avoid any misapprehension about where the standards are at, it is important that I go through some information in relation to animal welfare standards, the position in New South Wales and how that fits into the national context. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines are part of a project, under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy, to convert the existing model codes of practice for the welfare of animals to standards and guidelines. An important element of the strategy is to advance animal welfare by the development of nationally consistent standards for regulation.

    Standards for pig welfare and land transport of livestock have already been mandated in all States. Standards for saleyards, abattoirs and exhibited animals are currently being developed. The sheep and cattle standards have been finalised and their regulatory impact statements approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. The documents have been endorsed by the national Animal Welfare Task Group for submission through the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee to the Agriculture Ministers Forum for endorsement. In accordance with a memorandum of understanding with NSW Farmers, the NSW Government intends to adopt the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep as prescribed guidelines under section 34A of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. This understanding applies only to the cattle and sheep standards and guidelines, and will mean that they will not be mandatory but can be used as evidence in proceedings under the Act or its regulations.

    The welfare of animals in New South Wales, including farm animals, is protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the prevention of cruelty to animals regulation. There are already mandated requirements for cattle and sheep which focus on unacceptable practices relating to cruelty; transport; failure to provide food, drink and shelter; certain painful procedures and the use of electrical devices. Public consultation submissions have been received on the exhibited animals standards and are currently being analysed. The regulatory impact statement is being redrafted following this consultation. The review of the poultry code and its conversion to standards and guidelines will commence this year.

    The review of the requirements for rodeos is near finalisation, and the review of the requirements for pounds and shelters is underway. I will be requesting that the revitalised Animal Welfare Advisory Council provide me with advice on the review program. I conclude by highlighting for the House that I have every confidence that staff in the Department of Primary Industries take the issue of animal welfare very seriously, as do I. I have every confidence that they and my office are up to speed with what is happening within the sector. Some industry groups are looking towards their own practices and codes. We have been liaising with other States and going through the memorandums, codes and regulations which I have just described. I assure the House that this Government does take seriously the issue of animal welfare, and it has the right people on the job. It will continue to do so every day and to put the welfare of animals at the forefront.

    Hansard link – HERE

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