Sow Stalls Ban - Question without Notice

Ms CLOVER MOORE: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sydney will be heard in silence.

Ms CLOVER MOORE: Given that pregnant pigs will continue to be cruelly confined in sow stalls until 2017 when pork producers voluntary phase-out concludes, will the Minister follow Tasmania's lead and introduce a ban next year to eliminate this unnecessary cruelty as soon as possible?

Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON: I thank the member for Sydney for her question. It is an important issue; however, it also relates to food security in this State and that is an issue the Government takes extremely seriously. Clearly there are issues in relation to animal welfare that various members will have difficulty in understanding, and also in relation to our need to manage production and enable sufficient supply for consumers. Concerns are regularly raised with me about egg production and poultry production, but these are necessary parts of the human food chain.

No matter how we try to dress it up, the fact remains that we need a sufficient food supply for consumers as well as for people beyond Australia. Animal welfare standards in New South Wales are very good when our production needs are taken into consideration. All sorts of things could be done to try to appease those who perhaps do not really understand farming, but would that be productive for our food sector?

Animal welfare rights are respected. Recently a lot of work was done on the handling of cattle in a particular abattoir, which raised welfare issues. We took steps to address that because it was a clear breach of animal welfare guidelines. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act exists for a reason. Under that Act, the RSPCA examines animal welfare issues very closely. When there are clear breaches, the Government takes immediate steps to address that. In relation to pigs, sow stalls, hens and egg-laying, the Government examines closely all the issues and considers those matters very carefully.

We make sure there is compliance with requirements relating to particular movements that an animal needs to make. At the end of the day, the Government takes food production very seriously. As someone who comes from a rural background, I understand primary production and the need for a farmer to be able to make money and continue with production. It is very important to consider both sides of the issue. The Government must be able to assure a food supply for human consumption and we must have food security in the State without importation. That is the way we will continue to operate.