Page 4729 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 10 November 2009

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to you with specifics on the technical aspects of how the codes on animal welfare in that particular industry operate.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question?

MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that New South Wales already has legislation to implement the poultry welfare code properly and we do not, do you still maintain that the ACT leads on animal welfare and that chickens would actually be much worse off if they were relocated over the border?

MR STANHOPE: In the context of floor space available, it is quite interesting. I would be more than happy to engage in discussion on this. The issue in relation to the non-implementation of the voluntary code that is of most concern to you is the size of the door to the cage. The point that I have made repeatedly and upon which I base that assertion is that, as a result of decisions taken by Pace Farms at Parkwood, on average, across the farm, hens housed at Pace Farms at Parkwood occupy a space almost double the code requirement. My understanding is that that is one of the very few cage egg production facilities in Australia where the hens actually occupy almost twice the mandated space in terms of floor space.

You have raised issues on the extent to which doors in the Pace egg production facility meet Australian standards. You and I can have a debate about whether or not a hen that occupies twice the floor space in the ACT as opposed to a hen in New South Wales which occupies half the space but has a bigger door, which it only exits twice in its life, is actually enjoying better standards than a hen that does not. If your particular proposition that hens in New South Wales enjoy a higher quality and are better off because they have a bigger door which they never use than a hen which has double the floor space in which it lives, I will stick with Pace Farms at Parkwood. But I am more than happy to have that conversation with you.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question?

MS PORTER: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, has there been any progress on the government’s offer to help phase out battery hen production in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. I think members are aware of the government’s activism in relation to the issues around cage egg production. We have taken the lead. We have taken the lead as a jurisdiction at ministerial councils. I believe I am probably the only minister with responsibility for animal welfare that has ever raised at a national ministerial council the prospect of phasing out cage egg production in Australia. I was not successful; but I made the effort and a conversation ensued as a result of that. There has been as a result of that some movement in relation to a national conversation around some of the issues that cage egg production creates.

I am sure it is the case that ours is the only jurisdiction in Australia where money has been put on the table, offered, to arrange for the conversion of a cage egg facility to an alternative system of egg production. There is still and there remains a $1 million offer on the table in the ACT to Pace Farm to convert. I have previously advised

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