CONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS TO BE ACCORDED PRIORITY
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Campaign
Mr STEVE WHAN
(Monaro—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.26 p.m.]: Opposition members are interjecting and saying "Make it quick", but it is bound to have the opposite effect! This is an important motion and it should be accorded priority, and. I will explain to members why. It is true that several years ago I moved a similar urgency motion in the House about this subject. That motion passed at the time with, I believe, the support of The Nationals. It is important that we look at this issue again today because it relates to assisting farmers to defend their industry, the wool industry, against an ill-informed campaign being run by an international organisation that is designed to damage a very important Australian industry.
I would expect the Opposition to support this motion because I believe there should be bipartisan support for the farmers of New South Wales. It is important to discuss this motion because a very misleading campaign has been run by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA]. Wool is one of the most important products in Australia. We may not still ride on the sheep's back as we were said to do in the 1950s, but it is still a vitally important product for New South Wales. We need to ensure that it continues to be available. It is a natural fibre and one that is far more ecologically sound to produce than are many of the fibres produced by other means. We need to debate this motion to give bipartisan support to this important industry.
If we agree to give this motion priority today will it have any impact on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ? I do not know. It is a group that seems intent on running this campaign no matter what evidence is put before it. If one looks closely at this organisation's material one sees it is all about stopping the use of animals for virtually anything and turning us all into vegetarians. Some people choose to be vegetarians and I do not deny them that right, but organisations that have as their basis ending all farming of animals really are not looking at the interests of people overall, particularly those in the Australian farming industry.
It is important for the Parliament to put this on record today because it gives our farmers support and it gives people who might hear or read what we are saying here more information from another source which backs up the point of view being put forward by the industry in New South Wales. When people hear rubbish from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals they may not realise that if it were not for mulesing about three million sheep would probably die each year in New South Wales because of flystrike..
When the matter was last discussed in this place the former member for Lachlan, the Hon. Ian Armstrong, gave a very vivid description of what happens to a sheep that has flystrike. I will not repeat that description or go into it in depth today, but flystrike is a pretty shocking sight. The former member gave an interesting, if somewhat gory, description of it. I think it is important that we inform people of some facts: for instance, our industry has made a commitment to phase out mulesing by 2010, but unless there are valid and reasonable alternatives sheep will suffer an awful death from flystrike.
Mr Andrew Stoner:
Why is it urgent?
Mr STEVE WHAN:
If members opposite cared about rural New South Wales they would think this issue was urgent because in this week before the winter parliamentary recess it comes up in the media time and again. This organisation uses amazing tactics of rolling out nude persons to promote its point of view. The Leader of The Nationals has never noticed the advertising campaign—he must not watch the same television channels as I do. It is also on the news quite regularly. It is urgent.
Order! The House will come to order.
Mr STEVE WHAN:
My motion should be discussed urgently. Indeed, it should be given priority over that of the Leader of the Opposition, who has admitted that it is the same motion he wanted to debate urgently last week. Time and time again he attempts to waste the time of this Parliament on issues that do not concern rural New South Wales and that are not important to people who live in rural New South Wales, such as the delivery of services. The Leader of the Opposition's motion is simply a political muckraking exercise. [Time expired.
The Hon. John Della Bosca, MLC: Iguanas Waterfront Restaurant Incident
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL
(Ku-ring-gai—Leader of the Opposition) [3.33 p.m.]: Members who listened to the member for Monaro would believe that he was a campaigner against mulesing. They will be surprised to learn that he last raised this issue in this place in October 2004. That shows how concerned he is about mulesing, despite the importance of the sheep industry to his electorate. If the member for Monaro wanted bipartisan support on this issue—
Mr Steve Whan:
Point of order: The Leader of the Opposition is suggesting I am campaigning against mulesing. I suggest he read the motion.
Order! That is not a point of order. The member for Monaro will resume his seat. I call the member for Monaro to order.
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL:
That was a good try by the member for Monaro, but the reality is that he last raised the issue of mulesing in this place in 2005. The last time he sought urgency for a motion relating to mulesing was in 2004. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is also wrong. There is nothing more important in government in New South Wales and nothing more important to people in country areas and in the city than integrity in government. Whether it is mulesing, cancer patients, or any other issue across New South Wales, if we cannot rely on the Minister or the Premier to tell the truth, to raise standards and not to be arrogant, there is no hope of fixing this State's problems.
In question time today the Premier refused to support John Della Bosca when asked questions by the Opposition. When the Premier was asked whether he still believed that John Della Bosca had dealt honestly and truthfully with the public and with him, he squibbed the issue. Asked whether he stood by John Della Bosca despite the progression of revelations, including last night's revelation that a Belinda Neal staffer had resigned, he refused to do so. I have a message for the Premier: Stand by John Della Bosca or sack him! Back him or sack him!
Dr Andrew McDonald:
Point of order: Under Standing Order 109 the member must debate why his motion should be given priority, rather than debate the substance of the motion.
Order! As the House will be aware, I allow a certain amount of latitude during priority debates.
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL:
I would have thought the member for Macquarie Fields, who just took that point of order, was committed to integrity, standards and a lack of arrogance in government. But he has surprised me. There is a reason the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] should conduct an inquiry. We should end the trial by media and put this inquiry where it should be: before the State's anti-corruption body. Why should we do that? There are a number of issues that a narrow police investigation will not cover, including the apology issued by Iguanas and what inducements were offered, and the involvement of the Premier's office and other offices in the failure to release statutory declarations. They involve some of the issues related last night that go beyond simple "he said" and "she said" statutory declarations. More importantly, as the member for Sydney knows, the powers available to a police investigation are narrow. People asked to make statements can refuse to do so on legal advice. As a result, there is no certainty that we will get to the truth of the matter through a police investigation, no matter how hard working State and Federal police are.
As the member for Sydney knows—indeed, as most members in this House know—no-one can refuse to give evidence at an ICAC inquiry. One has to make statements, even if those statements are self-incriminating. The public deserves to know the truth of this matter. That may not suit the Premier's political interests or the interests of John Della Bosca. The reality is that if this Parliament is not prepared to stand up for truth, honesty, standards and doing what is right, none of us deserve to be here. Yet that is what we are hearing from members opposite. I say again to Government members: To those who seek to suggest that there is some degree of hypocrisy in this House, it all rests on that side!
Order! The member for Bathurst will cease interjecting.
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL:
Since 8 June, when the issue first came to public light, the Opposition has been arguing for a judicial inquiry. We now believe that ICAC should be empowered to do the job it was set up to do.
Order! I call the member for Bathurst to order.
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL:
The ICAC was set up to investigate corruption in the last Labor Government in this State—a Labor government in which the Minister for Corrective Services was selling early releases. That is why honesty and integrity are important. With the anti-corruption body we have in New South Wales—a standing royal commission—why do we have it if we do not use it in such situations? Members opposite will be condemned by your inaction on this, Mr Speaker. The reality is that John Della Bosca has been party to a cover-up—that is becoming clearer day by day—and only an ICAC inquiry will show how high it goes.
Question—That the motion of the member for Monaro be accorded priority—put.
The House divided.
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr R. C. Williams
Question resolved in the affirmative.
|Ms Burton||Mr J. D. Williams|