Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3132..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The meeting has occurred. The meeting was with the general manager of Pace Farm and, indeed, with the Chief Executive of the Australian Egg Corporation. We discussed at length the government's proposal, the rationale for the position that we have taken and the $1 million offer which is on the table to facilitate a change in egg production methodology by Pace Farm within the ACT.
Pace Farm and the Australian Egg Corporation responded in detail to the issues, as they saw them, that impact on the egg industry within Australia. No position, hard and fast, was put around whether or not the offer would be accepted. Issues in relation to the offer were put to the government to which I undertook to give further consideration.
There were some market force issues and market issues brought to my attention in relation to battery egg production as against cage as against free range. An issue that was put to me, Dr Foskey, as an issue of significant difficulty to Pace Farm in relation to the transitional funding offer was the very small barn egg market that exists in Australia. Whilst 75 per cent of all eggs consumed domestically are battery eggs, 21 per cent of the remaining 25 per cent are free range eggs. Only four per cent of the Australian egg market is barn eggs.
The difficulty that Pace Farm faces is a concern that whilst there would be some attraction in converting to free range there is very little market attraction in converting to barn. The siting and the facility of the area of land available to Pace at Parkwood would potentially not permit them to convert to free range. This is a significant issue. We undertook to discuss it further.
There is almost no market in Australia for barn eggs. Pace Farm informed me that they would not take on their own behalf a commercial decision to convert the Parkwood facility to barn because they did not believe there would be a market for the eggs. They could convert the facility to barn, but there would be real difficulty in selling into a market with only four per cent market share. That was one of the issues we discussed. We undertook to discuss it further.
The position was put to me around the different animal welfare aspects of all forms of egg production. Both Pace and the Australian Egg Corporation put to me a range of concerns within the industry about some of the animal welfare issues attaching to barnyard production. In that context, Dr Foskey, I have agreed with Pace and with the egg corporation to undertake a quite intensive investigation or inspection of barn, free range and cage facilities within New South Wales. I am seeking to arrange that. I would be more than pleased, Dr Foskey, if you were interested in joining me on that inspection visit. I extend the invitation also to the Liberal Party.
DR FOSKEY: In the event that these measures prove fruitless in implementing your stated aim of phasing out battery cages, how long will we have to wait until you reconsider legislative action?
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Dr Foskey. Other steps that I have taken include approaching each of my ministerial colleagues in relation to their ministerial responsibilities in the context of the undertaking I made that the ACT government would no longer utilise in its facilities battery cage produced eggs. We have those