15th September 2016
Questions without notice.
Yabby traps drowning native wildlife.
The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:23): My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. As prescribed by the Fisheries Management Regulations, opera house style yabby traps are banned from use in public waters east of the Newell Highway, where platypuses are found. The ban was implemented in response to the number of animals being drowned in these traps. It is, however, still legal to use these traps in public waters in parts of western New South Wales. New South Wales Fisheries has published advice on how to modify the traps so as to limit bycatch, yet in areas such as Menindee Australian water rats are caught and drowned in the traps. Will the Minister follow the example of States such as Victoria and impose a statewide ban on opera house style traps so as to protect our native animals? If not, why not?
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) (15:24): I thank the member for his very detailed question. As I look across to the President’s gallery to see whether there is a note on such a detailed question, the response on the faces of my advisers is the reason that I find the beginning of my answer somewhat humorous. I am certainly on my own on this one. It is a serious question. If the Department of Primary Industries [DPI] Fisheries, which comprises some of the most outstanding scientific minds in this country, has determined that certain parts of the State warrant the use of so-called opera house traps and other parts of the State do not then, without having any information to hand, I say that the determination it has made is the right one.
We have some of the best scientific advice on fish stocks and fishing methods in New South Wales estuaries. If DPI Fisheries has determined that the traps are appropriate in certain parts of the State I support the status quo. If the department provides me with further advice on this matter I will be happy to review that advice. At the moment, if there is a clear distinction and there has been a decision to allow the traps in certain areas I assume some form of assessment has occurred. That assessment would have been undertaken by the best in the business. If I receive any further advice from DPI Fisheries I will be happy to share that with the member.
The Hon. MARK PEARSON (15:26): I ask a supplementary question. Would the Minister elucidate his answer in relation to why the Department of Primary Industries does not follow other States that have a complete ban?
The PRESIDENT: Order! The standing order is quite clear. A supplementary question must ask for elucidation of an aspect of an answer. It is not in order to ask the Minister to address a part of the question that was not answered. As I said in a previous ruling, other than the requirement that a Minister be relevant and not debate the question, a Minister is free to choose to answer as he or she wishes. I am afraid I have to rule the supplementary question out of order.