Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 9 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 2705..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
figure? What is the timetable for the provision of this assistance? Will the government compensate, for instance, their contracted caterers for the increase in the cost of egg purchases now that they will be required to buy barn or free range eggs? How will that be calculated? How will that be paid? Where is the government's amendment to the bill? Where is the government's commitment? It is, in fact, absent.
Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, one could be forgiven for thinking that the government is not putting its own amendments on the table because it thinks if it can vote down the agreements on our amending bill then the whole issue will just go away. They may save their $1 million, and the Chief Minister will not have to talk chooks and eggs in COAG. The government caterers can then just resume normal buying habits, and everyone will just go on with their lives as normal. But we will still be left with the animal welfare issue of how we look after the caged chooks. How long will they continue to be caged, and in what cages will they reside?
I think what we need is a positive program of action to achieve a ban on cage egg production. At the same time, there are economic and commercial issues that should be considered. The Greens have said that there are not many jobs at risk if cage egg production ceases—fewer than 40 full-time jobs, they say. Well, I hope the Greens have seen the letters from those employees whose jobs are at risk. I would like to know the extent of their economic analysis on the impact of their proposal. I think even the Chief Minister contradicts their claims. There are more than 100 employees and their families who rely on these jobs, plus those who will be indirectly affected by any change in the current production arrangements.
The Greens say that there would be more jobs with alternative production methods. Unfortunately, I am not sure there is any evidence to support this claim, nor is there any evidence to say that these supposed extra jobs would actually come to the ACT. The Greens assume that Pace Farm in the ACT can just change to barn or free range production methods. It is really not that simple, hence the offer of assistance from the Stanhope government.
I think it is reasonable at this stage, Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, to note the hypocrisy of the Chief Minister towards industry development in general in the ACT. Here we have an industry comprising one entity, employing around 100 people, and he offers $1 million to facilitate adjusting to new circumstances. But this is the same Chief Minister and Minister for Business and Economic Development who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the point of offering Integrated Forest Holdings assistance to overcome their difficulties and so preserve around 100 full-time jobs and many indirect jobs associated with the operations of that entity.
It is the same Chief Minister who has not made any offer to one of the ACT's biggest employing industries—the club industry—when his government banned indoor smoking and increased tax rates, leading to a fall in revenue and, therefore, profitability. It is the same Chief Minister who is yet to propose any recovery package for the horse industry in the ACT, which employs around 400 people directly and many more indirectly in associated activities, following the equine influenza outbreak. Yes, the hypocrisy of the Chief Minister is alive and well and seen almost every day.