Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Industry has been busy working on inquiries with a focus on animals and farming. Last week the committee held hearings into the practice of mulesing, and the exhibition of exotic animals at circuses and cetaceans at marine parks. The committee also set up a new inquiry into the dairy industry to look at the progress made following the dairy inquiry in the last Parliament.

PC 4 holds hearings into mulesing and exotic animals 

Last Tuesday the committee held a public hearing for its inquiry into the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures) Bill 2019. The committee heard evidence from a variety of stakeholders, including representatives from the Department of Primary Industries, peak bodies within the wool, farming and sheep industries, as well as animal welfare experts and veterinarians.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures) Bill 2019 is a private members bill seeking to ban the mulesing procedure on sheep and to require the administration of pain relief in certain procedures involving stock animals. The committee is due to report on the bill on Thursday 24 September 2020.

The committee also continued their inquiry into exotic animals in circuses and the exhibition of cetaceans in NSW with two public hearings. The committee heard from representatives of the NSW Government and animal industry last Thursday and animal welfare experts on Friday. The inquiry is looking at the welfare needs of exotic animals and cetaceans, as well as whether these animals should be bred in captivity and how the industry should be regulated.

Dairy industry inquiry two years on

The committee has commenced an inquiry into the sustainability of the dairy industry and the role of the Department of Primary Industries and other government agencies in supporting the industry. It has been established to undertake a thorough review of issues within the industry and to see if any progress has been made since an Upper House committee inquiry into the dairy industry in 2018.

This inquiry will look again into the nature of, and relationship within, the value chain between farmers, processors, logistics companies and retailers and their respective influence on price. It will also consider again the impact of external influences and previous policy on the dairy industry, and the role of government in addressing key economic challenges facing the industry.

The first inquiry called for the establishment of an independent Commissioner for Dairy to provide much needed advocacy and support services directly to dairy farmers. The NSW Government’s Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate and the Dairy Industry Advisory Panel have since been appointed and this committee will be examining their operation and effectiveness. The committee will also be looking into the operation, effectiveness and outcomes arising from the Australian Government’s Mandatory Dairy Code of Conduct, including whether additional protections, legislation or regulation are required in New South Wales to better support our dairy farmers. The closing date for submissions is 2 October 2020 with public hearings to take place at a time to be confirmed.

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