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Greens Matter of Public Importance - Animal Welfare in Tasmania

1 August 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, let us talk about the situation of animal welfare in Tasmania under the Liberals. No wonder they would like to get up and spin the situation, because it is going very badly for them.

Yesterday in this House we asked questions about the slaughter of over 8000 native black swans in Tasmania, legally authorised by this Government, the minister and his department that is also responsible for protecting native black swans. The same department has provided permits to legally slaughter or shoot 8000 swans in the last three years. The level of passion I have seen on my personal Facebook page is amazing. Many thousands of people have looked at that story and every single person has been aghast, dismayed and cannot believe that the Government is handing out permits to shoot beautiful native swans in places like the Tamar River islands wetlands area, right next to adjacent properties. This is an outrage, and it is no surprise that Government members and backbenchers will be trying to run cover from what is happening.

We know that we cannot get information about what this Government is doing to animals under its watch. We get hints of awful atrocities that are happening. Last year -

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The member is making an observation that is offensive to the Government. It is insulting and I ask her to carefully consider her words before she speaks so appallingly about the Government's record.

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Deputy Speaker, I will not resile from using appalling atrocities which are coming to light. It is the role of the Greens in this place to ask questions and hold the Government to account. We heard from the ABC about the investigation as a result of the Right to Information Act that gave the information that 8700 bullets had been fired at Tasmanian fur seals since 2013 by fish farm company employees, 39 000 explosives were let off at seals in 2016 by fish farm employees, and 28 700 in 2017. People were so concerned that this could happen to animals, especially when there was evidence presented of seals being blinded and deafened by these actions.

Since then the Greens have asked for a briefing from the minister responsible for animal welfare and the minister responsible for aquaculture in this state. We have written letters about this to those ministers. We have made requests under right to information for further information about these attacks on seals. We asked questions of this minister, the minister responsible for the aquaculture industry, to provide us with updated information following the 2017 report from the ABC. The minister did not provide the correct answer in Estimates. We will be following this up with you, minister, because it is an abuse of parliament. We asked a direct question and the answer we received from the department is a rehash of the previous year.

Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Deputy Speaker, the minister has constantly interrupted -

Mr BARNETT - The point of order is that the member referred to me, as minister for Primary Industries during the budget Estimates, of abusing the parliament. That is totally inappropriate, unethical, unparliamentary, and I reject it wholeheartedly.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you for putting that on the record because it is an abuse of parliament not to answer questions that were recorded and written down. I will be following this up with the minister so we can have it chapter and verse. I look forward to attending a briefing regarding the situation with seals and all the information the Greens have asked for on this subject the last two years. We have been stonewalled. The problem is that Tasmanians have no idea what this Government is doing. which permits are being handed out to farmers like lollies, or what actions forestry is taking regarding our native animals because -

Mr Tucker - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Dr WOODRUFF - Can I raise a point of order with you, Madam Deputy Speaker? This is a total abuse. This is the fourth time a member has interrupted.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - I remember that points of order were also called during the minister's contribution.

Ms O'Connor - What is the standing order?

Mr TUCKER - It is 45.

Mr Barnett - Taking offence. He is taking personal offence.

Ms O'Connor - No, it is not. That is relevance. For future reference, it is 144.

Mr TUCKER - Okay, 144. I take offence to the comment that farmers are given crop protection permits like confetti. That is not true.

Time expired.