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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 2013 ..

MS HORODNY: I have a supplementary question, but I would like, first, to table these reports - the post-mortem report on the euthanased hens and also reports on the living hens.

Leave granted.

MS HORODNY: Mr Humphries, there are solutions to all the problems you present; it is not as if we cannot find alternatives. I ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister tell the Assembly how much space each hen at the Parkwood Eggs establishment is given and can he confirm that this space is adequate for a bird to move, stand, turn around, stretch, sit and lie down, as required by the code he purports to stand by?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries, I have a bit of a problem with that question. Whilst you are the Minister, I am not sure that you are responsible for Parkwood Eggs. You might just like to bear that in mind.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I can answer at least part of that question. I am trained as a lawyer and, regrettably, my law degree did not include any courses or components on animal husbandry or chicken sexing or anything of that kind; so I am not able to answer any detailed questions about whether I consider that the 450 square centimetres provided for each hen at Parkwood Eggs is sufficient for them to stand up, walk around, converse in hen language with their neighbours or whatever. I can say that that is the national standard for the maintenance of conditions for hens in this country. That is the agreed level of care for hens across this country. What does Ms Horodny expect me to do? I ask Ms Horodny to indulge in a flight of fantasy and briefly put herself in my shoes. I do not know anything about what conditions are best for hens.

Ms McRae: Why do you not find out?

MR HUMPHRIES: I have found out, and my advisers - the advisers include officers of the Animal Welfare Unit of the ACT Government, government veterinary surgeons and the RSPCA - have told me that we comply with all the conditions set down in the code and the agreed legislation. The code is made under the legislation and is passed by this Assembly by default, because it is laid on the table as a disallowable instrument. Am I expected to believe all those people or believe Dr Meischke? Ask yourself that question. I think, Mr Speaker, I have no choice, and nobody else sitting in my position would have any choice, but to accept the advice of that range of government and non-government sources, and I in fact now do so.

Mr Connolly: Go and have a look. It is just up the road from Charnwood High, the one you are closing.

MR HUMPHRIES: I think the Opposition has not quite caught up. They are about three hours delayed in their mental processes. I have taken the decision which I think anybody in my position would take.

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