Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 2012 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I could describe Ms Horodny as the member for soft fluffy animals, but I think that would be to denigrate what is actually a quite important debate. Ms Horodny continues to push a line that I think is irresponsible, given the lack of supporting evidence for it. She says that I defame Dr Meischke by describing him as being a member of Animal Liberation. I am not quite sure what that says about Ms Horodny, who I understand quite openly admits that she is a member of Animal Liberation. I do not know whether I am defaming her by making reference to that fact as well.
I have no doubt at all that what Dr Meischke saw in those birds brought to his surgery was an accurate reflection of the state those birds were in, but the question remains as to whether, necessarily, you can say, first of all, that those birds came from Parkwood Eggs; secondly, if they did come from Parkwood Eggs, whether that is typical of the treatment of animals at Parkwood Eggs; or, thirdly, if there are some birds of that kind at Parkwood Eggs, that it necessitates a change in policy with respect to the treatment of birds at that place. There are 262,000 hens at Parkwood Eggs. It is not surprising that some of them will not be in good shape. There are 300,000 Canberrans. Some of them are not in very good shape either. I do not think we should rebuild the city of Canberra because a few of us are not in very good shape.
I appreciate the burning sentiment that drives Ms Horodny to make these points. I am sure that she feels very deeply and passionately for these poor suffering hens, as she puts it; but I do not believe that anything I have seen so far warrants a change in the policy this Government inherited from the previous Government, which has been applied consistently since that time. We have a policy in place that requires standards with respect to the feeding, the watering, the housing, the treatment of those birds at Parkwood Eggs. Parkwood Eggs supplies 80 per cent of Canberra's eggs. We cannot lightly talk about throwing out battery farming in the ACT without talking about a massive change to egg production methods in the ACT. Ms Horodny needs to show what she proposes to do, how she proposes to change the present laws to meet her higher standards for the care and protection of hens - she has not yet done that - and at the same time not cause Canberrans a massive rise in the cost of their eggs; or, alternatively, force Parkwood Eggs across the border, with the concomitant changes in the ACT economy that would flow from that decision.
I stand by the view that the fact that some hens have been found to be in a poor physical state does not prove that we should change the code, which Ms Horodny says was reluctantly adopted by the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. I do not know about that; the advice was given to Mr Wood 21/2 years ago. This is the same code, presumably, that you said the other day did not exist in the ACT. I do not know whether it was adopted reluctantly or not when it was first put up, but I will say that today the position is that that code applies. It constitutes the strongest provision we have around the country for the protection of those birds, and if Ms Horodny wants to change that she should put up legislation to do it and we will consider it in this Assembly. I assume that she will do that. I stand by the process that was put in train after a very controversial debate three years ago on the animal welfare legislation. I accept that process. I will abide by that process until such time as a legislator comes forward and successfully changes it here on the floor of the Assembly.